All posts by joshua.ryall12

Josh studies Creative Writing and Publishing at Bath Spa University and writes for http://techspark.co. Also has an uncanny ability for identifying flags of the world.

Mapping James Bond: Commentary

In his account of James Bond’s cultural impact, Jeremy black writes, “Like his wife’s friend Evelyn Waugh, the author of three travel books, and his own older brother Robert, [Ian] Fleming could have been a successful travel writer.”[1] Fleming drew on his background as a naval intelligence officer, then Foreign Manager for a newspaper group, to feature settings from across the world in his novels. Though Diamonds Are Forever received mixed reviews upon publication in 1956, chiefly for a “…loose-jointed and weakly resolved”[2] narrative, Fleming was praised for his “…fine eye for places”.[3]

Geography plays a key role in Diamonds­ Are Forever. A plot revolving around a diamond smuggling pipeline was the primary justification for a map-based adaptation of the text, though the fact that the text was the first of several of Fleming’s to be adapted as an internationally syndicated comic strip[4] and later a film starring Sean Connery in the lead role[5] initially drew my attention to the idea.

It was my intention when creating http://www.007maps.com to explore the contemporary geopolitics in Diamonds Are Forever through the physical geography Bond traverses. As Franco Moretti notes, ‘quantitative data are useful because they are independent of interpretation; then, that they are interesting because they demand an interpretation’.[6] Plotting the raw data from Bond’s travels – a rendezvous point ‘[in] French Guinea but only about ten miles north of the northernmost tip of Liberia and five miles east of the frontier of Sierra Leone’[7], for instance – on a map, consequently bringing raw data to life in a visual and interactive format, is designed to provide a companion to the text which enables readers to appreciate the context of declining British Imperial power by seeing the locations Bond travels to.

Fleming was born at a time when the British Empire was at the height of its powers, but, according to William Cook, ‘Bond was born just as its power began to wane’.[8] As readers jump from place to place –either by hyperlinks on a mapbox visualisation, or through a chapter-by-chapter analysis in the form of separate WordPress posts – I hope that my approach to adapting Diamonds Are Forever will create a mode of exploring the text which ‘entails changes both in the story and even in the importance of story itself’[9], empowering readers with a new frame of reference which will allow them to read Diamonds Are Forever not only as an entertaining thriller but also an important cultural artefact of Imperial Britain.

 

 

[1] Black, Jeremy The Politics of James Bond: From Fleming’s Novels to the Big Screen. Nebraska: Bison, 2005, p. 25.
[2] Boucher, Anthony ‘Report on Criminals at Large’. The New York Times Book Review, 28 October 1956, p. 263.
[3] Symons, Julian ‘Contemporary Pictures’. The Times Literary Supplement, 27 April 1956, p. 251.
[4] Gammidge, Henry and McLusky, John ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. Daily Express, 12 April 1956.
[5] Diamonds Are Forever. Film. Directed by Guy Hamilton. London: Eon Productions, 1971.
[6] Moretti, Franco Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. New York: Verso, 2007, p.91.
[7] Fleming, Ian Diamonds Are Forever. London: Jonathan Cape, 1956, p.3.
[8] Cook, William ‘Novel Man’. New Statesman, June 2004. [Online] Available from: http://www.newstatesman.com/node/148305 [Accessed 07/05/2015]
[9] Hutcheon, Linda A Theory of Adaptation [Online]. London: Routledge, 2006. Available from: https://www.dawsonera.com/readonline/9780203095010# [Accessed 08/05/2015]