Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler in conversation

In conversations with fellow Bond fans, especially those of the literary 007, we have observed that most of us have an appreciation for the “Philip Marlowe” stories of American mystery writer Raymond Chandler. As did Chandler and Ian Fleming for each other — Chandler was one of the first Americans to praise Fleming’s Casino Royale; Fleming mentioned in his novels that Bond (and his boss, ‘M’), were regular readers of the hard-boiled novelist.

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler

The Five Dials website (organ of the Hamish Hamilton publishing company,) has provided us a true boon: a transcription of a taped conversation between the creators of these two immortal characters. Working from old, crackling audio tapes, the transcriber frequently became so lost in the conversation that she had to repeatedly play bits over to get all the details correct. She also mentioned that Chandler’s state of inebriation during the chat made things more difficult, as well.

It’s an interesting conversation, as you’ll soon read. Fleming is quite deferential to the American master, and talks at some length at how difficult it is to come up with a good villain. He also has less-than-kind things to say about his own creation:

I never intended my leading character, James Bond, to be a hero. I intended him to be a sort of blunt instrument wielded by a government department who would get into bizarre and fantastic situations and more or less shoot his way out of them, or get out of them one way or another. But of course he’s always referred to as my hero. I don’t see him as a hero myself. On the whole I think he’s a rather unattractive man . . .

The entire interview, IN CONVERSATION: Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler is in a PDF format, so you’ll need Adobe Reader to read it. It’s on page 30 of the Five Dials webzine.

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