Espionage in British Fiction and Film Since 1900: The Changing Enemy 1498504825, 9781498504829

Espionage in British Fiction and Film Since 1900 traces the history and development of the British spy novel from its em

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Espionage in British Fiction and Film Since 1900: The Changing Enemy
 1498504825, 9781498504829

Table of contents :
Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction
PART I: FROM EMPIRE TO WORLD WARS, 1900–1945
1 The Changing Enemy
2 The Accidental Spy
3 The Spy Who Knew Too Much
PART II: THE COLD WAR ERA, 1945–1990
4 Licensing the Professional Spy: James Bond
5 The Post-Bond Cold Warriors
6 The Double Agent in Fact and Fiction
7 The Spy Villain
8 The Spymaster
PART III: AFTER THE COLD WAR, 1990 TO THE PRESENT
9 Reinventing the Spy Story After the Cold War
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index
About the Author

Citation preview

Espionage in British Fiction and Film since 1900

Espionage in British Fiction and Film since 1900 The Changing Enemy

Oliver S. Buckton

LEXINGTON BOOKS

Lanham • Boulder • New York • London

Published by Lexington Books An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowman.com Unit A, Whitacre Mews, 26–34 Stannary Street, London SE11 4AB Copyright © 2015 by Lexington Books All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Control Number: 2015949339 ISBN: 978-1-4985-0482-9 (cloth : alk. paper) eISBN: 978-1-4985-0484-3 ™ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992. Printed in the United States of America

Contents

Acknowledgmentsvii Introductionxi PART I: FROM EMPIRE TO WORLD WARS, 1900–1945

1

1 The Changing Enemy

3

2 The Accidental Spy

31

3 The Spy Who Knew Too Much

75

PART II: THE COLD WAR ERA, 1945–1990

115

4 Licensing the Professional Spy: James Bond

117

5 The Post-Bond Cold Warriors 

149

6 The Double Agent in Fact and Fiction

183

7 The Spy Villain

227

8 The Spymaster

257

PART III: AFTER THE COLD WAR, 1990 TO THE PRESENT

289

9 Reinventing the Spy Story After the Cold War

291

Conclusion321 Bibliography325 Index339 About the Author

351 v

Acknowledgments

Over the course of researching and writing this book, I have been fortunate enough to benefit from the support and encouragement of numerous institutions and individuals. One of the pleasures of seeing this project into publication is being able to thank those who have supported and encouraged me along the way. My apologies go to anyone whom I may have inadvertently omitted to thank. I am grateful to my home institution, Florida Atlantic University, for awarding me a sabbatical semester in the Fall of 2010. A significant portion of the research for this book was completed during this semester. A College Faculty Advisory Board travel grant, from the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at FAU, allowed me to undertake travel to conferences that were most helpful in enabling me to complete this project. I am grateful to the Master and Fellows of Churchill College, Cambridge, for electing me as a By-Fellow in Michaelmas term 2010. The College was most hospitable in providing a friendly environment and granting access to the College and University libraries. The stimulation of the College’s intellectual and social activities provided an ideal setting in which to work on this book project. In particular, I wish to thank Tim Cribb for sponsoring me for the fellowship; and Andrew Taylor, Fellow and Director of Studies in English at Churchill, for his encouragement of my research. I am also grateful to Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archive Center, and his staff for their friendliness and exemplary knowledge of the collections in the archive center. I am grateful to Christopher Andrew, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, for meeting with me during my term in Cambridge, and for inviting me to participate in his Intelligence Seminar at the College in Michaelmas term vii

viii Acknowledgments

2010. This seminar allowed me to participate in cutting-edge research and discussions about intelligence matters. I offer thanks to the Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence for awarding me a research grant that enabled me to travel to Churchill Archive Center, Cambridge, UK, for additional research on this project. I wish to thank the Lifelong Learning Society at Florida Atlantic University, for providing a research grant allowing me to conduct further research in the UK. I thank the Lifelong Learning Society, FAU, Boca Raton, for recognizing my research with the Lifelong Learning Society Professor in Arts and Humanities award for 2015-16. Also, thanks to Lifelong Learning for inviting me to give lectures about James Bond and spy fiction to a group of motivated and intelligent lifelong learners. At Florida Atlantic University, I am grateful to Eric Berlatsky and Andy Furman, each of whom served a term as Chair of my department while I worked on this project. Their willingness to support my research by scheduling courses that relate to the field was much appreciated. My thanks also to Adam Bradford, associate chair of the English department, for his tireless work scheduling teaching assignments, and for inviting me to deliver a talk on Graham Greene and John le Carré at the FAU English department’s brown-bag colloquium. I thank my colleagues in the English department at Florida Atlantic University for creating a productive and stimulating environment in which to teach, research, and write. Also at FAU, I am grateful to Richard Shusterman and John Golden for inviting me to present a talk on Len Deighton and Graham Greene as part of the Center for Body, Mind, and Culture coffee colloquium series. Their feedback was most helpful as I refined the argument of my book. I am grateful to Ann Evans of Jonathan Clowes literary agency in the UK for arranging my (electronic) access to Len Deighton, and to Len Deighton for graciously answering my questions about his spy fiction and offering feedback on my discussion of his work. Thanks to Jay Parini for generously inviting me to write essays on Len Deighton and Frederick Forsyth for his British Writers series, published by Gale/Cengage. My work on these essays further stimulated my research for this project. His interest in this project has encouraged me along the way. I wish to thank the members of my graduate seminar on the postwar spy thriller at FAU. Their enthusiasm for spy fiction and their insights into the genre helped me refine my argument in several places. Thanks to Mark David Kaufman for his feedback on an essay on Graham Greene’s The Human Factor, which helped me to refine aspects of my argument. And thanks to Lee Edelman of Tufts University for introducing us via email. I thank Lisa Kumar at Gale/Cengage for her meticulous editorial attention to my work on Frederick Forsyth. Parts of chapters 4 and 9 of the present

Acknowledgments

ix

study previously appeared in my essay on Frederick Forsyth, in the British Writers Supplement 22, edited by Jay Parini and published by Gale/Cengage. My thanks go to Gale/Cengage for permission to reprint this material. On a more personal note, I am grateful to my friends Mark Scroggins and Steve Engle, fellow Drööd band-members, who have provided such good company and pleasurable diversion through music, over the last couple of years. I am grateful to Dennis Weiss for his interest in my project and for expert advice about the publishing business. I wish to thank my editor at Lexington Books, Lindsey Porambo, and her assistant, Marilyn Ehm, for shepherding the project through publication. Their active involvement in this project, including answering my questions with such exemplary thoroughness and promptness, has been gratefully appreciated. I am also grateful to the anonymous reader for the press who made numerous constructive suggestions for improving the manuscript. Special thanks go to my parents, Chris and David Buckton, who have remained interested and involved in this project throughout its long development, and have provided useful feedback on various parts of the manuscript. My brothers, Ben and Seb Buckton, have inspired me with their talents, and encouraged me with their interest in my work, and by continuing to ask me how the book was progressing. Finally, I dedicate this book to my wife, Laurice Campbell Buckton. She has lived with this project for as long as I have, and supported me in ways too numerous to mention. While pursuing her own busy career as a musician and teacher, she has always found time to talk with me about my work. I am immensely grateful for her love, faith, and encouragement in every step of the journey.

Introduction

Spies are everywhere in contemporary culture: controversy over the reliability of intelligence about biological and nuclear weapons programs in Syria and Iran; recent leaks of classified information about the extent of NSA surveillance of American citizens; and related public anxieties in Britain about GCHQ’s involvement in this program; intelligence operations against ISIS and the Russian buildup of troops on the border with Ukraine, all attest to the continuing topicality and relevance of espionage in our lives today. In the realm of fiction, a glance at the fiction bestseller list will reveal the continuing appeal of novelists such as John le Carré, Frederick Forsyth, Charles Cumming, Stella Rimington, Daniel Silva, Alex Berenson, Christopher Reich—to name but a few—and illustrates the continued fascination with the spy novel into the twenty-first century, decades after the end of the Cold War. There is also a burgeoning critical interest in spy fiction, with a number of significant new studies appearing in recent years. A genre that many believed would falter and disappear after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Empire has shown, if anything, increased signs of vitality. Fifty years after the death of Ian Fleming, who created the most famous spy of all—007, James Bond—Bond novels continue to be authored by other writers, most recently William Boyd, and consumed by a wide readership. Even more so on the big screen, the longevity and global appeal of James Bond shows no signs of waning, with the recent Skyfall marking the half-century of the film franchise to widespread acclaim, and becoming the most successful film in the history of the franchise. And Bond is only the most famous of screen spies: the adventures of Jason Bourne of Bourne series and Ethan Hunt of Mission Impossible have also continued to thrill us. Clearly, then, the spy story shows no signs of losing its grip on the imaginations of readers and viewers. xi

xii Introduction

Yet the spy story has deeper and more complex roots than most readers or viewers are aware of, and it has long served as a significant barometer of the political attitudes and, at times, contradictory cultural assumptions in Britain and, indeed, many other parts of the world. The purpose of this book is to explore the origins, history and development of the British spy novel and film into the twenty-first century, focusing on the various political, literary, and cultural influences that have shaped major landmarks of espionage literature and cinema. While the chief focus of the book is the spy literature and film produced by British authors and filmmakers, the influential productions of other nations and literatures are also considered, particularly where they relate closely to their British counterparts. The spy novel emerged at a period of international crisis in early twentiethcentury Europe, during the buildup to World War I, and has continued to reflect the shifting allegiances and conflicts of international relations. Its early pioneers, such as Rudyard Kipling, William Le Queux, Erskine Childers, and John Buchan, were deeply concerned with growing rivals such as Russia and Germany, and aware of the vulnerability of the British Empire—and indeed Britain itself—to invasion. A crucial aspect of the overall argument of this book is that spy fiction—a term I use to include both literature and film narratives—has consistently played a role in imagining, describing, elaborating, and indeed defining the identity of the “other”—the foremost “enemy” and national rival—that, in any given period, is perceived as the greatest threat to the national security of Britain and its allies. With this in mind, the study will assert that our political, “real life” understandings of conflicts between nations, ideologies, and populations are to some extent fictional—that is produced by discourses and fantasies within imaginative literature and film. There has always been a connection between imaginative fiction and historical and political fact in the spy novel, to the extent that the boundary between fact and fiction is not always easy to discern. More recently, the term “faction” has been used to denote this blend of truth and fiction in the spy novel. However, from the pioneering (and now largely forgotten) work of William Le Queux, it was not easy for readers to classify the narratives they read as simply fictional. Indeed, the spy novel, from its origins in the late Victorian and Edwardian period, has exploited public anxiety and paranoia about threats of foreign invasion and international conspiracy, while frequently drawing on details of actual intelligence operations in order to achieve a sense of authenticity and contemporary realism. One significant consequence of up-to-the minute (or in some cases, ahead of the minute) realism of the spy novel is that it has been avidly consumed by those with responsibility for guiding the course of international affairs. President John F. Kennedy’s selection, at the height of the Cold War and shortly before the Cuban Missile crisis, of Ian Fleming’s From Russia with Love (FRWL) as one of his 10 favorite books is only the most

Introduction

xiii

celebrated example of the influence of spy fiction on political affairs. More recently, former President Bill Clinton’s praise of Daniel Silva shows that popular spy novelists continue to be read in the corridors of power. My argument reveals how the spy novel and film interweave sometimes far-fetched plots together with contemporary political realities to create compelling stories and dynamic protagonists, such that the reader cannot always discern what has been invented and what taken from the headlines. The realism of the spy novel has also been bolstered by the fact that many of the successful practitioners of the genre have themselves served in the intelligence division. Whether using fiction to disguise the personal nature of the experiences recounted, or to avoid prosecution under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), former spies have frequently contributed to the expansion of spy fiction, from John Buchan, Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, John le Carré, to Stella Rimington. This professional background may provide a sense of authenticity to the narratives, though it cannot of course substitute for the ability to weave a thrilling tale. This book does not delve substantially into the biographical backgrounds of spies-turned-writers, but it does consider the fictionalizing of espionage experience as another important context for the blurring of actuality and fantasy in the spy novel. As the subtitle of this book proclaims, a central concern is the way in which the definition and identity of the “enemy”—the (usually foreign, though sometimes domestic) threat in response to which the fictional spy, as much as the real one, is brought into being—has evolved and adapted since the early twentieth century. An important part of the spy story’s ability to adapt to changing historical conditions while remaining current and compelling, is this power to reflect the prevailing anxieties and even obsessions about the threat from without (perhaps especially when that threat has already penetrated the host society). The argument tracks the major transitions from Russia (perceived as the greatest threat to the British Raj in India) to Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm and then the Nazis (prior to World War I and up to the end of World War II). If Britain’s wars with Germany dominated fictional as well as military hostilities for the first half of the twentieth century, the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc would displace the Nazis as the bête noire of spy fiction during the Cold War. Of course, there is no precise correlation between the alignments and enmities of international relations and the representation of the enemy in spy fiction. One intriguing effect of the imaginative power of the enemy in spy fiction is that, having been represented in sometimes monstrous detail, the imaginative enemies do not go away. A classic case is the Nazi villain who has remained a staple of the spy novel long after the end of World War II.1 In the period following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War—an era that I examine in my final chapter—the enemy as imagined by

xiv Introduction

spy novelists and filmmakers has again mutated, no longer being identified with a specific nation-state or geographical “center,” but as cells of international terrorists, in particular al-Qaeda and other organizations of Islamic extremist terrorism. Following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the international hunt for Osama bin Laden (until his death in May 2011) has preoccupied novelists as well as Western political and military leaders. Not only did bin Laden, prior to his assassination, appear as a character in spy fictions (such as Alex Berenson’s The Faithful Spy) but the spy novel constructed elaborate plots to anticipate and thwart new plans of terrorist action. In some cases, the complexities of the “War on Terror” have prompted expressions of nostalgia for the Cold War with its more clearly defined enemy. Throughout these seismic shifts in geopolitical landscapes and allegiances since 1900, however, this book identifies recurring patterns of narrative, types of hero, and archetypes of villains, that have remained consistent in spy fiction throughout the changing historical eras. With this in mind, this book has a strong historical argument, asserting that the developments in the spy novel and film have shadowed changes and expansions of intelligence operations since the beginning of the twentieth century. The book is divided into three sections, the first covering the early years of spy fiction up until the end of World War II; the second covering the Cold War period, from 1945–1990; and the third tracing the reanimation of the spy story following the end of the Cold War, defying predictions of its demise. Individual chapters, while linked to historical periods, explore the specific types of fictional spy that came into prominence during a specific period and shaped the atmosphere and texture of the spy novel of each generation. However, the chapters are not rigidly limited to this specific historical period, but may look back to antecedents and foreshadow future developments in the genre. In the first chapter, I outline my argument concerning the shifting definitions of the enemy in spy fiction, and explore some of the political and ideological purposes served by these narrative strategies. In chapter 2, I explore the category of the “accidental spy,” which mirrors the origins of the spy novel in Victorian adventure fiction. Like the gentlemen-amateur explorers of Rider Haggard and R.L. Stevenson, the early spy protagonists have no special training or preparation for their espionage, and stumble upon international intrigue by accident. However, these protagonists are often lacking in purpose or direction at the beginning of the story, and willingly embrace the possibilities of adventure and patriotic service offered by the espionage plot. In some respects, the accidental spy is the most unencumbered type of protagonist for—while lacking the government support and technological resources of later professional spies—he or she is unaccountable to any official authority.2

Introduction

xv

Chapter 3, focusing on a category I term “the spy who knew too much,” explores a somewhat more specialized, but nonetheless influential, category of fictional spies that—while they are also generally amateurs—lack the innocence of the “accidental spy” and are marked in some way by a character flaw or moral stigma. Typified by the anti heroes of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene, this type of spy may be unwittingly involved in espionage, but he typically has a tainted past or possesses guilty knowledge that incriminate him. Rather than acting from a love of adventure or patriotism, the spy who knew too much is primarily concerned with his own survival. Chapter 4, “Licensing the Professional Spy,” gives center stage to the most famous fictional spy of the Cold War era, Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Bond is conspicuous by his absence from some recent studies of the spy novel, but he is an essential figure if we are to understand how the genre moved from the sidelines to the mainstream of popular culture. The risk of treating Bond as a special case is that we overlook the influences that shaped him; to avoid such misconceptions, the chapter includes significant discussion of earlier professional spies that helped shape the modern spy novel, such as Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden. Chapter 5, on the “Post-Bond Cold Warrior”, explores the reaction against Fleming (as well as the screen Bond) in spy novels and films from the 1960s, addressing the perceived lack of realism in Fleming’s novels and the films based (in some cases very loosely) on them. Authors such as John le Carré, Len Deighton, Frederick Forsyth, and Brian Freemantle, I argue, made their reputations as authors of “anti-Bond” spy novels, yet such writers benefited from the popular taste for spy fiction that Fleming and Bond had helped to create. This paradox, I argue, is apparent in an at times uneasy coexistence of conventions from the popular thriller alongside a more bleak, Conradian perception of moral ambiguity. Chapter 6 explores a figure of increasing importance in postwar spy fiction: the double agent. In the aftermath of the British spy scandals of the 1950s and 60s—especially the “Cambridge Five” (Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt, and Cairncross) and George Blake—the spy novel strove to absorb the devastating blows these scandals had administered to the British Secret Service organizations and, indeed, Britain’s international prestige as a leader in intelligence affairs. In particular, the figure of Kim Philby appears with uncanny frequency in the pages of postwar spy fiction, haunting the genre with intimations of betrayal and duplicity. Chapter 7 examines the role of the villain in spy fiction, distinguishing this figure from the double (or traitor within) and discussing how the more abstract “enemy” (a hostile nation-state or spy/terrorist organization) is condensed and embodied in a specific individual, often marked by a physical deformity or oddity as well as moral corruption. While some spy villains are based, with varying degrees of obviousness, on actual historical characters, this is an area where the spy novelist has used creative

xvi Introduction

license to forge memorable and disturbing malefactors without being subject to realist conventions. Chapter 8 seeks to shed light on one of the most shadowy figures of spy literature; the spymaster, whose greatest assets are often anonymity and secrecy (registered in the fact that both real spymasters such as “C.” of SIS, and fictional ones such as “R” of Ashenden or “M” of the Bond novels, are identified by a single letter. The spymaster, though he can be traced back to the works of Buchan and Maugham, is predominantly a product of the professional intelligence bureau, with its hierarchies and interdepartmental rivalries. An essential function of the spymaster’s role is to justify the work of his or her department, and mediate between field agents and politicians. Despite being eclipsed by the spy hero in terms of visibility, action, and glamor, the spymaster is a key figure in the representation of espionage in fiction. S/he may be considered the puppeteer who holds the strings to the hero, has power of life and death over the individual agent, and authorizes his or her missions. Equally, the spymaster is the embodiment of the official, bureaucratic background of espionage, in this regard telling us a great deal about the values, intentions, and limitations of spy agencies. The final chapter is devoted to the changes in direction that have occurred since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Empire. In an age where attacks on the enemy are made by remotely controlled drones, and much intelligence is gathered via surveillance of satellite communications, the individual human spy—and the HUMINT he or she provides—may seem in danger of becoming obsolete. However, in this chapter, while recognizing the profound changes that technologies have brought to the field of espionage, I argue that the human agent remains the focus of spy fiction, and that many of the techniques of tradecraft and characteristics of an earlier era remain in place despite the altered political and geographical environment. The advantage of this book’s combined historical and thematic approach is that it allows the individual chapters to showcase the development of a particular type of fictional spy in the work of a number of different authors and filmmakers, tracing the evolution of these types in different contexts. At the same time, my book brings a significant historical dimension to the subject, as some of these types discussed flourished during specific eras. As this study traces the expanding professionalization of espionage and the influence this has on spy fiction, it is important to keep in mind the parallels between the work of espionage and the work of authorship. This goes beyond recognizing the profound impact that former spies have had on the development of spy fiction. It may be that novelists seemed to possess a particular skillset—including powers of observation, insight into character and motivation, communication and language skills, and even ability to fade into the background—that made them attractive as recruits to the Secret

Introduction

xvii

Service. While some writer-spies were already published authors when their espionage work began—such as Maugham and Greene—in other cases the writing career began after professional involvement in espionage ended (or was close to ending). It seems clear, in such cases, that the secret world of espionage provided materials and inspiration that would not otherwise have been available to these writers. Their decision to write about their espionage activities, even in disguised form, risked prosecution under the OSA, his escape from which Fleming ascribed (in a famous passage from You Only Live Twice) to the “high-flown and romanticized caricatures”(202) that he penned about Bond. In other words, the ambivalent relationship of spy fiction with realism— which has contributed to the genre’s frequent assignment to a lower tier of literature—is only partly a matter of aesthetic choice. On the one hand, the incorporation of technical detail and other types of verisimilitude, brings a sense of authenticity. On the other, the more realistic the novel, the more it may seem to infringe on the culture of secrecy that surrounds the intelligence services (particularly Britain’s SIS which, until 1994, had no official existence despite the fame brought to SIS by James Bond and other fictional spies). The spy novel, more than other popular genres, straddles the divide between secrecy and disclosure: between the need for the Secret Service to guard its covert operations, and the desire of the public to know what takes place in the shadows. Such transgressions create the excitement for the reader of gaining (imaginary) access to secret information and clandestine operations, provides part of the “thrill” that the thriller—like the sensation novel before it—promises to provide. It seems important to address the scope of this study, in terms of media. A key component of my argument is that the global popularity of spy fiction has been enhanced by the power of cinema as a force of cultural representation and dissemination. Film has installed key images of spy heroes in the popular imagination, from the 007 logo and gun barrel to the self-destructing mission assignments of “Mission Impossible.” But well before Bond, Bourne, or Hunt, the spy thriller was pivotal to the early success of groundbreaking film directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Carol Reed, and Fritz Lang. In the Cold War era notable spy heroes successfully made the transition from page to the big screen—Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, for example—and it is intriguing to examine the revisions and inventions that occur in adapting spy novels for the cinema. Beyond the spy film as adaptation, however, the book includes discussion of original spy films [such as The Third Man and North by Northwest (NNW)] that have helped to shape the modern audiences and conventions of espionage fiction.3 On the one hand, it is important to recognize the specific formal and cultural differences of literature and film. Even a film adaptation that seems to

xviii Introduction

be “faithful” to its source text, is operating in a different medium and using distinct conventions. Citing Virginia Woolf’s view of cinema as “a ‘parasite’ and literature its ‘prey’ and ‘victim,’” (3), Linda Hutcheon argues “the idea of fidelity should not frame any theorizing of adaptation today” (Theory of Adaptation, 7). No less significant, despite the popularity of auteur theory in cinema studies, it remains clear that the collaborative nature of film mitigates tracing the work back the imagination of a single creator. If secrets are disclosed in a spy film, who is responsible for their disclosure? At the same time, a commercially successful film reaches an audience that exceeds the wildest dreams of even the bestselling novelist. Widely read as Fleming’s Bond novels were (and are), they have been eclipsed by the popularity and commercial success of the films. In order to avoid the impression that spy novels and films are continuous and interchangeable, I have tried to distinguish between discussions of each medium. However, in the case of adaptations, I combine discussion of seminal spy novels such as Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greene’s The Ministry of Fear with analysis of their influential film adaptations (in these cases, Hitchcock’s and Lang’s), even when these depart radically from the source text. While the spy has also been a frequent star of television, this study does not devote significant attention to television as medium (though there are exceptions, as with my discussion in chapter 3 of Patrick McGoohan’s TV series The Prisoner). There remains the question of terminology: some critics prefer the term “secret agent” to the word “spy,” arguing that the latter should be limited exclusively to acts of intelligence-gathering rather than other deeds of adventure and violence. Dame Stella Rimington, formerly head of MI5 and now a successful spy novelist herself, has argued that even James Bond—the most famous fictional agent of all—“is no spy… . He is no more than a licensed killer with no mission but to destroy” (“Introduction,” xii). Yet the term “spy” has, for better or worse, retained its appeal and currency, and has also shed many of the negative associations the term had at the beginning of the twentieth century. Despite the use of “secret agent” in seminal works by Conrad and Hitchcock, I use the term “spy” to embrace a range of covert activity even when the chief purpose may be other than pure intelligence-gathering and extend to counterespionage, counterterrorism, and even assassination. Of keen interest to my study is a paradox in the identity and function of the spy. The professional spy is thoroughly trained by and directed by a government organization, an agent of the state, yet due to the deniability of covert work, the spy, if caught, is “out in the cold,” with no recourse to official protection: a harsh fact recognized as early as Kipling’s Kim. While on a mission, the spy is cut off from familial and domestic support by the absolute secrecy necessary for her or him to function successfully. The spy’s career, exploits, and adventures may often be romanticized, even glorified, by

Introduction

xix

the novels and films discussed in this study. Yet aside from this glamorous portrayal in popular culture, the spy’s fraught relationship to the establishment s/he serves and sense of personal expendability may function as an often dystopian mirror of the individual in modern and postmodern society. NOTES 1. Some of the examples of the postwar Nazi villain discussed in subsequent chapters are Sir Hugo Drax, in Fleming’s Moonraker, and Eduard Roschmann in Frederick Forsyth’s The Odessa File. There is perhaps a distinction to be made between the former Nazi soldier, and the “war criminal” who oversaw the mass-murder of concentration camp prisoners. However, this distinction is too fine for many of the novels in question. 2. There may be a paradox in that both Childers and Buchan—two founders of the modern spy novel—refer to the “service” their protagonists offer, and yet they are not “serving” in an official capacity. The difference is registered in the title of Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which the term “service” brings with it the imprimatur of an official sanction, and a “licence to kill.” 3. Though neither of these key films can be considered “adaptations” in a conventional sense, both have clear links to works of fiction. Reed’s The Third Man was based on a treatment by Graham Greene—who also wrote the screenplay—which Greene subsequently published as a novella under the same title, while noting that “The Third Man was never written to be read but only to be seen” (“Preface” 7). Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, though based on an original screenplay by Ernest Lehman, is in some respects a remake of his earlier film The 39 Steps, based on John Buchan’s novel.

Part I

FROM EMPIRE TO WORLD WARS, 1900–1945

Chapter 1

The Changing Enemy

The starting point of this project may be summarized in three deceptively simple questions. Firstly, where did the modern spy story come from? That is, what are its literary and cultural origins, sources, and literary influences? Secondly, what are the causes, and significance, of the spy novel’s emergence as a specific popular literary genre in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? Thirdly, what is the connection between the spy novel’s enduring appeal through numerous changes in the world order, and the dramatic shifts in the definition of the “enemy” that threatens to spy on “us,” that have occurred since the beginning of the twentieth century. As Cawelti and Rosenberg observe, “the spy story has become one of the major popular genres of our time. The secret agent protagonist is now one of our favorite mythical heroes” (Spy Story, 3). But this “mythical” status of the spy hero did not emerge all at once. What were the historical conditions and influences that led to this particular type of hero becoming so widely influential, despite the fact that spying and spies were viewed with distaste for much of the century, with espionage being considered (unlike military service, for example) as unworthy of a gentleman? This study proposes to answer these questions by tracing the spy novel back to its antecedents in such Victorian genres as the imperial romance and urban detective story. The imperial romances penned by popular authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, H. Rider Haggard, and Rudyard Kipling, were deeply indebted to the historical romance, pioneered by Sir Walter Scott with Waverley (1814) at the century’s beginning and imitated by almost every significant Victorian novelist.1 One should note that Stevenson’s conception of “romance” (articulated in several key essays of the 1880s) owed a great to deal to Scott, of whom he wrote (in “A Gossip on Romance”), “as his books are play to the reader, so were they play to him. He conjured up the romantic 3

4

Chapter 1

with delight, but he had hardly patience to describe it” (Lantern Bearers 182). Stevenson and his peers would add the “patience to describe” location and action to the romantic energy of Scott, and thus create a new lease of life for the romance. The key point, however, is that the blend of authentic description and romantic incident that characterized the imperial romance, would become a defining characteristic of the spy story. Critics such as Nigel West have characterized “faction”—the merger of fact and fiction—as a key element of espionage literature, and this may be traced back to the Victorian adventure story.2 West argues that in spy literature “even what is purported to be copper-bottomed fact, from an ostensibly reliable source, can fall into the realms of fiction, or a potentially confusing mixture of the two, faction” (“Fiction, Faction,” 276) and this “confusing mixture” can be traced back to the nineteenth-century historical romance. The romantic adventure narratives of Stevenson, Haggard, and Kipling also used actual historical events and imperial settings for the context of individual adventure. David Balfour’s relationship with Alan Breck in Kidnapped plunges him into the aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 while, during his “flight in the heather,” David witnesses the poverty, forced emigration, and other harmful effects of the suppression of the Highland clans. In Kipling’s Kim, the youthful protagonist carries out his part of the “Great Game,” or Secret Service, in the context of the threat posed by Russia to British India’s northeast border. Haggard’s African novels are replete with references to actual battles and explorations. Hence historical actuality is a vital component of the “romance,” even though adventure is experienced as a “game” by the juvenile protagonists.3 As part of its use of “faction,” the spy novel, as it develops in the twentieth century, does on occasion use real historical characters. Some notable examples include Ian McEwan’s The Innocent which features George Blake, the Soviet double agent, and William Harvey, head of the CIA in Berlin, in its cast of characters; and Frederick Forsyth’s The Fourth Protocol which has British SIS officer and Soviet double agent Kim Philby as one of the central characters.4 More frequently, though, the spy novel uses fictional characters based on a combination of historical personages to explore the connection between the individual and the wider currents of political and historical action. This is an example of the “confusing mixture” of fact and fiction in spy stories: there has been much speculation, for example, about the “actual” characters that provided the model(s) for Fleming’s James Bond.5 Yet whether the protagonist is an “accidental spy” who stumbles inadvertently into an international intrigue, or a trained (and salaried) professional employed to spy on an enemy of the state or a hostile organization, the spy novel is rooted in the real-life conflicts that have dominated the news headlines, and shaped the currents of political history. As David Stafford



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points out, “[S]py novels are a twentieth-century phenomenon, set in the ‘real world’ of contemporary international intrigue, violence, and espionage. The world they portray is one of danger, complexity, unpredictability, and— increasingly—imminent catastrophe and annihilation” (Silent Game, 2–3). The realism of the spy novel—its topicality, technical detail, and political contexts—reflects the extent of its engagement in modern history. The central argument of this study is that spy novel and film have played a crucial role in identifying, giving imaginative life to, and shaping the “enemy” that is understood as posing the greatest threat to Britain and, in many cases, its allies. By “threat,” I mean not only the prospect of military invasion of British territory, but also the capture of secret information, classified documents, violation of intelligence protocols, and (in the early twentieth century) challenges to Britain’s imperial dominance overseas. Whereas the imperial adventure story had imagined Britain as endlessly expanding its empire, conquering new territories and assimilating untold riches (as exemplified, for example by Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines), the early spy novel takes a more inward-looking and defensive approach to Britain’s role in the world. Indeed, some of the early spy novels assume an imminent threat of foreign invasion, or hypothesize the presence in Britain of foreign spy networks.6 Questioning the imperial confidence and aggressive expansion of the Victorian age, the early spy novel imagines (and represents) a Britain whose empire is in decline and whose shrinking territory is under growing threat from rivals such as Russia and Germany. Rudyard Kipling was a key figure in the transition from the Victorian imperial romance to the modern spy story, for his stories of empire include strong notes of caution and an awareness of the cost of empire. His powerful story “The Man Who Would Be King,” for example, dramatizes the rise and tragic fall of two unauthorized empire builders—Peachy Carnehan and Daniel Dravot—whose grandiose ambitions end in martyrdom and death. More directly relevant to the spy story, Kipling’s novel Kim has been called “the finest of all spy novels” by intelligence historian Christopher Andrew: though Andrew adds, “it transcends the world of espionage” (Defence, 4). This idea of “transcendence” helps to explain why Kim is often not classified or recognized as a spy novel: it can equally be described as an imperial adventure story, a coming of age story, or a narrative of spiritual quest.7 Yet it is clear from Kipling’s narrative that the empire is under serious threat. Edward Said notes in an introductory essay to Kim that “the Russian agents … stir up insurrection against Britain” (15), and mentions that “as early as sixteen years of age Kipling proposed at a school debate the motion that ‘the advance of Russia in Central Asia is hostile to British power” (“Introduction,” 29–30). Like the adolescent Kipling the youthful Kim is soon schooled in the realities of maintaining an empire: he overhears Colonel

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Creighton raging against the native Kings’ plan to aid the Russians by rebelling, “this is a case where one is justified in assuming that we take action at once… . This comes of not smashing them thoroughly the first time” (85). Kim’s entire participation in the “Great Game” is thus overshadowed by the threats to Britain’s imperial rule of India. The influence of Kim on later spies and spy novelists is profound: Harold Philby’s familiar name of “Kim” was derived from Kipling’s story, and Kim’s Game—in which the young agent is trained in observation and memory by Lurgan Sahib—became a foundational part of the training of spies.8 Kim is a seminal example of how the Victorian adventure story may be adapted into the more political, topical spy novel. Kim contains echoes of Stevenson–with its juvenile protagonist whose love of adventure and and “the game for its own sake” (Kim, 51) contrasts with adult worldliness–and of Haggard, with its exotic settings and indigenous characters. Yet despite this partial resemblance to Victorian precursors, the reader senses that we are encountering something quite new in Kim. In the first place, Kim does not seem, from the offset, to have the vulnerability or insecurity that one associates with the orphaned child. Like Stevenson’s David Balfour, Kim is given a collection of tokens of his identity and prospects, in this case “parchment, paper, and birth certificate” which are sown by a local woman into a leather amulet-case (Kim, 50). These documents include a prophecy of Kim’s future, a “Red Bull on a green field, and the Colonel riding on his tall horse” (50). Yet early in the narrative, Kim seems more preoccupied with his current adventures than his family history. He has a local reputation, and is wholly lacking in the innocence prized in the Victorian child: indeed, Kim “had known all evil since he could speak” (51). Rather than more traditionally childlike pastimes and games, Kim is engrossed by what Kipling calls “intrigue” (51). In his role as “Little Friend of all the World” Kim “executed commissions by night on the crowded housetops for sleek and shiny young men of fashion” (51). Some of Kim’s “intrigues” are implicitly of a sexual nature, as is suggested by the description of his activities: “what he loved was the game for its own sake—the stealthy prowl through the dark gullies and lanes, the crawl up a water-pipe, the sights and sounds of the women’s world on the flat roofs, and the headlong flight from housetop to housetop under cover of the hot dark” (51). The eroticism of Kipling’s language is palpable here, and seems to immerse Kim in a thoroughly adult world of sexual adventure, danger, pleasure, and voyeurism. These experiences would all become staples of the modern spy novel. The paradox of Kim’s boyish “game” being played for high political outcomes has informed the spy novel for much of its history. It recurs in Buchan’s work, where, as Allan Hepburn remarks, Hannay “constantly imagines his quandary in terms of games or theater, as if … the repertory



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of images for describing interpellation derives from infantile and representational sources” (Intrigue, 42). As David Stafford argues in The Silent Game, the associations of spying and playing games are interwoven through the history of the spy novel: “Like Kipling, Baden-Powell saw espionage as a game—‘the sport of spying,’ he enthusiastically dubbed it. And for the English gentleman sport was by definition amateur” (Silent, 11). The association continues in more recent work, often surfacing in le Carré’s novels, as when George Smiley, in his search for the mole in the Circus, contemplates “a whole history of courtship, recruitment, clandestine meetings, money, and motive… . It’s got to be thorough. It’s got to be convincing; I’d say it was a very big issue in the game” (Tinker, 330). Later, Smiley will reflect on the motives that led the traitor to betray his country, imagining a man “brought up to rule, divide and conquer, whose visions and vanities all were fixed … upon the world’s game; for whom the reality was a poor island with scarcely a voice that would carry across the water” (Tinker, 354). Le Carré’s traitor, Bill Haydon, is clearly based on another “Kim,” Harold “Kim” Philby whose defection to the Soviet Union was the final move in a long history of treachery. The movement from Kipling’s Kim—full of confidence in the expansiveness of empire—to le Carré’s Philby surrogate, disillusioned by Britain’s waning imperial role, tells a version of the story of the spy novel emerging from the ruins of Britain’s world power. Part of the “innocence” of Leonard Markham, the protagonist of Ian McEwan’s novel The Innocent, is his reluctance or refusal to recognize the decline of his own nation, and the corresponding rise of its “ally,” the US. Another aspect of this story is the transformation of the romanticized homoerotic bonds of Kipling’s novel into something more ominous and duplicitous in later spy fiction. Colonel Creighton’s interest in Kim, for example, is not merely that of a spymaster to his agent, but a man’s attraction to a boy: using indirect discourse, the narrator informs us of Creighton’s thoughts about Kim: “It was absurd that a man of his position should take an interest in a little country-bred vagabond; but the Colonel remembered the conversation in the train, and often in the past few months had caught himself thinking of the queer, silent, self-possessed boy” (176). It is Kim’s “queerness”—linked to “the Asiatic side of the boy’s character” (161)—that forms a significant part of his appeal for Creighton and others. But might not this “queerness” threaten the very imperial future that Kim, as boy spy, is “pressed into service” to represent. For, as Lee Edelman argues, the “queer, in the order of the social, is called forth to figure the negativity opposed to every form of social viability” (Edelman, No Future, 9). By the time of le Carré and his contemporaries, such queerness had come to seem more than suspicious: it threatened to undermine the fabric of the British state. As Allan Hepburn writes, “the queer spy compounds the

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ideological quandaries of the Cold War by his alleged susceptibility to leaking. Put otherwise, he dribbles vital information to enemies. One prototype for such leakiness is a woman, Mata Hari, wrongfully accused of spying because she slept with men of several ideological persuasions during World War I” (188). Thus the instability of the “queer” becomes linked to the susceptibility of the female agent towards “leaking,” a scenario that forms the basis of Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale. If Kipling is a crucial figure in his setting the spy story in an embattled, apparently declining empire, his contemporary Conrad is significant for bringing the spy story into the metropolitan setting of London. Conrad’s London is at once the imperial metropole—the center of the British empire— and a seedy underworld populated by anarchists, malcontents, and spies. This aspect is narrated from the Assistant Commissioner’s point of view, as he walks through the city: His descent into the street was like the descent into a slimy aquarium from which the water had been run off. A murky, gloomy dampness enveloped him. The walls of the houses were wet, the mud of the roadway glistened with an effect of phosphorescence, and when he emerged into the Strand out of a narrow street by the side of Charing Cross Station the genius of the locality assimilated him. He might have been but one more of the queer foreign fish that can be seen of an evening about there flitting round the dark corners. (Secret Agent, 117)

Conrad’s language assigns a subhuman status to the “foreign” elements within London, making the word “assimilated” appear heavily ironic. The foreigners are not in fact “assimilated” into Britain but are plotting acts of terrorism and sabotage against the host nation. Chief among these, of course, is Adolf Verloc—the Secret Agent of the title—who is recruited by Vladmir (First Secretary of a Foreign Embassy, implicitly that of Russia) to organize a “bomb outrage.” Yet the passage also implies that the Assistant Commissioner himself is becoming “assimilated” into the environment of these “foreign fish.” Arriving later in Westminster to meet with “a great Presence,” the Assistant Commissioner “got out at the very centre of the Empire on which the sun never sets” (169), yet he himself is viewed as alien by the minister’s secretary: “‘What a queer, foreign-looking chap he is’” (169). The ethnic, national, and moral boundaries separating friend from enemy, “us” from “them,” tend to break down in Conrad’s blurred political landscape. Ethical questions are, indeed, central to Conrad’s The Secret Agent. This does not mean that Conrad’s spies and saboteurs are themselves concerned with ethics, but that the context induces the reader to approach espionage from an ethical perspective. If Kipling is the forerunner of the romantic spy story, Conrad is the precursor of the morally ambivalent and politically



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complex spy fiction of Ambler, Greene, and le Carré. Conrad’s chief spy in The Secret Agent, Adolf Verloc, is a shady, even seedy character lacking in any of the patriotism or “gentlemanly” traits that usually appear in the romantic spy. He is, moreover, a mercenary, working for hire—at the beginning of the novel he is in the employ of a foreign power, apparently Russia, shortly before the Bolshevik revolution. His boss, Vladimir—the First Secretary at the Embassy—applies pressure on Verloc chiefly by reminding him of his economic dependency.9 As he states unsympathetically, “In the time of Baron Stott-Wartenheim we had a lot of soft-headed people running this Embassy. They caused fellows of your sort to form a false conception of the nature of a secret service fund. It is my business to correct this misapprehension by telling you what the secret service is not. It is not a philanthropic institution” (Secret, 18). Vladimir’s dismissal of “philanthropy” suggests the more pragmatic and overtly political purposes of his own “fund.” As Vladimir’s remarks make clear, Russia has an official system set up for the recruitment and paying of spies, but he expects more product out of Verloc for his money. In effect, Vladimir insists on Verloc making the transition from amateur to professional status, defining him by his mercenary calling. Requiring a “series of outrages” (24) to provoke a strong reaction in Britain, Vladimir insists that Verloc will not be paid until he achieves this goal (24). This ultimatum reminds Verloc of his dependency on the largesse of the foreign power.10 Not only is Verloc’s employment explicitly based on an economic relationship, but he is unscrupulous in recruiting his brother-in-law Stevie to actually carry the bomb that explodes prematurely, blowing Stevie to pieces. Conrad thus strips the spy of any glamor or gentlemanly honor, and shows that even kinship is no bar to espionage. Verloc is also apparently incompetent, having been caught stealing “the design of the improved breech-block of [France’s] new field gun” (16) and sentenced to “[f]ive years’ rigorous confinement in a fortress” (16). Further, as Vladimir makes clear, Verloc has been the victim of a honey-trap: Verloc, in excusing his failures, alludes to “a fatal infatuation for an unworthy—” and Vladimir fills in the details: “Ah, yes. The unlucky attachment—of your youth. She got hold of the money, and then sold you to the police—eh?” (17). Verloc’s lack of professional skill is compounded by his poor judgment in sexual matters, compounding the weakness of the spy. As the novel begins, he is married to Winnie, who foolishly trusts him with the protection of both her and her brother. Again Conrad ascribes mercenary (or at least self-interested) motives to Winnie’s acceptance of Verloc as a lover and husband: Winnie’s mother assumed “her girl might have naturally hoped to find somebody of a more suitable age” but her previous “romance came to an abrupt end,” at which point Verloc appeared: “It was clearly providential” (Secret Agent, 32–3). Just as Verloc’s arrival brings “an abrupt end”

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to Winnie’s romantic life, so his arrival as a protagonist brings an end to the romantic adventure story. Having begun his career writing imperial romances à la Stevenson and Haggard, Conrad in the twentieth century turned inward to explore the political corruption and moral darkness of the metropolitan center. His spy novel establishes the atmosphere of moral uncertainty, concerning the identities of allies and enemies, that later novelists would imitate.11 Verloc lacks any of the attractive physical attributes of the romantic spy hero: Conrad’s narrator refers to him as “[u]ndemonstrative and burly in a fat-pig style” and he has the air “common to men who live on the vices, the follies, or the baser fears of mankind” (11). His lack of physical fitness is commented on by Vladimir, who calls him “very corpulent” (15). Oddly, the narrator states “[t]his observation [was] really of a psychological nature” (15), forming a connection between Verloc’s physical condition and his mental sluggishness.12 The narrative’s attention to Verloc’s poor physique and lack of fitness, is a means of breaking the connection between twentiethcentury spy protagonist and the romantic adventure hero, such as Haggard’s Sir Henry Curtis. Yet it also reflects the unglamorous image of the spy in early twentieth-century culture. The significance of Conrad’s novel in terms of the “changing enemy” is that The Secret Agent identifies the threat present within British society (specifically, London), rather than located in a geographically remote foreign power. Vladimir represents a foreign power, but he is based in the heart of Britain’s own empire. This is in contrast to Kipling’s Kim, which shows the vulnerability of the Indian empire to native insurrection far distant from Britain’s shores. In Conrad, there is an awareness that the invasion of England feared by many has already occurred: echoing Le Queux, Vladimir advises, “There is a proverb in this country which says prevention is better than cure … It is stupid in a general way … Don’t you be too English. And in this particular instance, don’t be absurd. The evil is already here. We don’t want prevention—we want cure” (Secret, 21). Ever the reactionary, Vladimir insists “England must be brought into line” (24). He views England as a site of insurrection, apparently echoing Creighton’s view of the rebellious native kings: “I thought it was coming. It’s punishment—not war” (Kipling, 85). The “great Personage” of Conrad’s novel, Sir Ethelred, is far from confident in the ability of his own security service to handle this foreign menace: suspecting “the beginning of another dynamite campaign” (108), he objects to the Assistant Commissioner that “your idea of assurances over there … seems to consist mainly in making the Secretary of State look a fool” (108). Anticipating the conflicts between M and Cabinet ministers in the Bond films decades later, Sir Ethelred voices a fear that Britain remains vulnerable to terrorism from “queer foreign fish.” He protests against the un-English,



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unchristian behavior of the foreign secret agents, accusing them of undermining the fabric of British society: “These people are too impossible. What do they mean by importing their methods of Crim-Tartary here? A Turk would have more decency” (110). Far more than Kipling’s narrative, Conrad’s novel is preoccupied with the dubious ethics of espionage and the presence of dissident foreign elements within Britain itself. In a statement of pragmatism that anticipates acts of fraudulence in Greene and le Carré’s novels, the Assistant Commissioner (AC)—Inspector Heat’s boss—indemnifies the entire class of spies, informing Sir Ethelred that “the existence of secret agents should not be tolerated, as tending to augment the positive dangers of the evil against which they are used. That the spy will fabricate his information is a mere commonplace. But in the sphere of political and revolutionary action, relying partly on violence, the professional spy has every facility to fabricate the very facts themselves” (Conrad, 110).13 Yet, while the authenticity and value of secret intelligence may be suspect, the AC nonetheless decides this matter “should be dealt with with special secrecy” (111) and also notes the difficulty of tracking and controlling the foreign agents (such as Verloc) working for “foreign governments”: “A spy of that sort can afford to be more reckless than the most reckless of conspirators. His occupation is free from all restraint” (111). Both the dubious status of intelligence reports and the “freedom” of the foreign spy, the AC believes, “destroys in a measure the efficiency of our supervision” (111). Published only two years before the founding of the Secret Service Bureau in 1909—though set in the 1890s, a decade that witnessed several dynamite campaigns in London—The Secret Agent anticipates in an uncanny way the displacement of a distant yet knowable foreign enemy by a terrorist threat buried within English society.14 The early fictional spy hero is a not a professional specialist, but a representative of the “everyman,” the ordinary British subject. As David Trotter notes, “Edwardian thriller-writers assumed that a political awakening to the reality of the German menace, on the part of government, would have to be accompanied, or preceded, by some kind of moral awakening or regeneration on the part of individual citizens” (“Introduction,” xiv). This idea will be discussed at greater length in the next chapter, focusing on the “accidental spy” such as Davies and Carruthers in Riddle of the Sands. Yet before moving on one should note here the utter absence of such “moral awakening or regeneration” in Conrad’s Edwardian spy novel. While the enemy may be Russian-sponsored terrorism rather than “the German menace,” the crucial factor in Conrad, compared to Childers and Buchan, is not the national identity of the enemy but the compromised attitude of the protagonist. Verloc, unlike Hannay, is devoid of personal honor or patriotic motives; he is concerned only with his own survival and enrichment, willing to sacrifice his own brother-in-law rather than risk his life. In Verloc’s case, rather than

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“regeneration,” one can point to the moral degeneration of the characters, exemplified by the Darwinistic and Lombrosian ideas of Comrade Ossipon. Though Ossipon views Stevie, Winnie’s brother, as a “very good type … of that sort of degenerate” (37), the idea of degeneracy applies even more to the anarchists themselves. Actuated by no idealistic principle, they have an ideal representative in Verloc, the corrupt spy who serves only the god of money. Riddle of the Sands, as we shall see in the following chapter, marks a significant shift in the ethical attitude towards spying, compared to the Victorian adventure story. Not only are the protagonists grown men rather than boys, but they are troubled by ethical questions of espionage that are alien to Jim Hawkins and his fellow juvenile adventure protagonists. The stigma attached to the act of spying per se, was an important barrier to the emergence of the spy hero in fiction. Indeed, the term “spy hero” would have seemed oxymoronic prior to the twentieth century, as espionage was perceived as innately unheroic. In the late Victorian age, as David Stafford notes, military surveillance operations “were never called espionage … the gathering of knowledge by clandestine means was repulsive to the feelings of an English gentleman” (Silent Game, 10). As Donald McCormick points out, “[s]pying was regarded as something despicable and no spy could be considered as a hero” (Who’s Who, 3). According to Robert Lance Snyder, this ethical prejudice against espionage has persisted in preventing the spy novel from receiving its due share of critical attention: one “way of accounting for espionage fiction’s relative lack of attention by the scholarly community derives from the fact that the spy is often perceived as an unsavory, antiheroic, morally compromised trickster or picaresque figure whose exploits warrant disapprobation” (Art of Indirection, 3). The negativity associated with the spy, according to these judgments, may be seen most clearly in Conrad’s novel of metropolitan malaise.15 Yet in order for the spy novel to flourish as a popular genre, some elements of the Victorian romance had to be reanimated and introduced into the (apparently) seedy world of espionage. John Buchan is a crucial figure in this transition from Victorian romance to modern spy novel, for his roots are found in the Scottish romances of his literary idol, Robert Louis Stevenson. As Ian Duncan observes, “the crucial link here is the 1915 … novel by John Buchan, who elected Stevenson as his master in The Thirty-Nine Steps and a chain of ‘shockers,’ the most memorable sequences of which feature deadly games of hide-and-seek across rugged terrain. After Kidnapped, through Buchan and Hitchcock, the cross-country chase becomes a staple of modern thriller, from Geoffrey Household to Ian Fleming” (“Introduction,” xxii–xxiii). Hannay’s adventures are crucial in the evolution of the spy novel for another reason. The Victorian adventure story tended to feature exploits in



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remote, exotic locations such as Africa, India, the South Seas, or Malaysia. The spy novel involved a significant shift in the horizon of the reader’s expectations, in which adventures were to be seized in a more familiar, mundane setting. Hannay’s adventures, in the first novel, take place wholly within the confines of the British Isles: the furthest distance he travels is to the Highlands of Scotland, “some wild district where my veldcraft would be of some use” (29). This domestic journey is chosen by Hannay as a practical necessity; however, it is an aesthetic choice by Buchan. As a disciple of Stevenson—Buchan notes in his memoir that “Stevenson at that time was a most potent influence over young men” (Pilgrim, 32–3)—Buchan chooses to follow Kidnapped in sending his hero on a “flight in the heather.” It also reflects a contemporary awareness that the greatest challenge to Britain was no longer the building of empire, but defending the nation against a foreign threat to its shores. The “enemy” is not located in some distant plain or jungle, but embedded within the bourgeois society of England; however, unlike in Conrad, some romantic appeal has to be attached to uncovering this menace. On his journey through Scotland, Hannay encounters a “Literary Innkeeper” who is bent on imitating the great writers of Victorian adventure fiction and complains about the tedium of his life as a landlord. As he tells Hannay, “I want to see life, to travel the world, and write things like Kipling and Conrad” (Buchan, Thirty-Nine, 41), to which Hannay responds, “D’you think that adventure is found only in the tropics or among gentry in red shirts? Maybe you’re rubbing shoulders with it at this moment” (41).16 In persuading the innkeeper that adventure is accessible in his local environment, Hannay is also addressing the reader, trying to demonstrate to him or her that the spy novel is a worthy successor of the high Victorian adventure story. In Trotter’s words, “H[annay’s] awakening … is literary as well as physical. It tells him what kind of novel he is in” (“Politics,” 51). Buchan here gives theoretical expression to a point that is already implicit in Stevenson: the evil is already present in the familiar, local world, “the devils are after me” (41) and therefore adventure is close to hand: the uncle to whose house one is sent for refuge (as David is sent to Ebenezer in Kidnapped) is as likely to prove a villain as the blatantly foreign agent. Having heard Hannay’s story, the innkeeper is a convert to his philosophy: “I believe everything out of the common. The only thing to distrust is the normal” (The Thirty-Nine Steps 42). In identifying the innkeeper as “the man for my money” (42), Hannay implicitly recruits him as a reader of his spy adventure. Yet the story also suggests that Britain’s imperial rivalry with Germany is the hidden cause behind the plot. The spy novel, in other words, emerges on the literary scene at the point where Britain’s confidence in its supreme imperial dominance has been profoundly shaken. John Kucich identifies the defeats inflicted on British soldiers by the uncultivated Boers during the Boer

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War as a severe blow to Britain’s imperial confidence: such “failures touched deep British anxieties in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The most dramatic instance of such anxiety, perhaps, emerged in jingoist support for the South African War (1899–1902), which reveled in stereotypes of the Boers as an intractably vulgar class—stereotypes that displaced British anxieties about the degeneration of their own class structure onto colonial otherness” (Imperial, 111). John Buchan was himself disillusioned on his return from South Africa: “The historic etiquette was breaking down; in every walk money seemed to count for more; there was a vulgar display of wealth, and a … craze for luxury. I began to have an ugly fear that the Empire might decay at the heart” (Pilgrim, 127). The “othernesss” of imperial subjects as well as of the lower classes, would eventually be displaced onto new foreign enemies, Germany, and the Soviet Union. To grasp the difficulty of convincing the British public that Germany was its chief enemy, one must recall there were close national ties between Britain and Germany, whose emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was the grandson of Queen Victoria. After Victoria’s death in 1901, however, Wilhelm’s popularity in Britain plummeted, culminating in the disastrous interview he gave in 1908 with the Daily Telegraph in which he accused Britain of paranoia regarding German military preparations. One can detect an admiration for the Kaiser’s Germany in Riddle, particularly through the voice of Davies who shows Carruthers a map of Europe, and describes Germany as “the greatest military power in Europe … what I’m concerned with is their sea power. It’s a new thing with them, but it’s going strong, and that Emperor of theirs is running it for all it’s worth. He’s a splendid chap, and anyone can see he’s right” (Riddle, 74).17 From the early examples of spy fiction discussed here, up until the present, there has been a consistently close relationship between spy fiction and developments in real espionage. This dovetailing of fact and fiction is nowhere more apparent than in the career and influence of William Le Queux, whose impact cannot be accounted for exclusively in terms of literary merit. This is not because Le Queux worked in the secret service, but because his novels were instrumental in founding it. For Major James Edmonds, who took over MO5—the precursor of MI5—in 1907, Germany (rather than France or Russia) was the leading threat to Britain’s empire. According to Christopher Andrew, Edmonds recognized “The main threat to British security now came from the expanding German High Seas Fleet” (Defence, 8). The growing menace of this fleet fed the imagination of Le Queux, who stirred up public anxieties that Germany was planning an imminent invasion of Britain. As Andrew writes, “His best-seller The Invasion of 1910, published in 1906, described how German spies were already hard at work in England, preparing the way for the invaders” (Defence, 8).



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Le Queux was taken seriously by those with responsibility for Britain’s national security. William Melville—recruited to the Secret Service from the Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police—“gave Le Queux much of the credit for ‘waking up the public’” (Defence, 8). Le Queux published other novels, such as Spies of the Kaiser (1909), which documented the alleged widespread activity of German spies working to undermine Britain’s security and economy, in preparation for an invasion. As Le Queux’s biographers attest, “Spies, the enemy in our midst, and a constant in Le Queux fiction of the period, were again thrust centre stage. The invasion of Britain would not have been possible without careful and extensive preparation by the invaders” (Patrick and Baister, 63). As evidence of the blurring between fact and fiction, Patrick and Baister argue that Le Queux began to imagine himself as one of his fictional protagonists: “it was at about this time that Le Queux began to assume the persona of the secret agent which he had created in his novels… . Time and again, Le Queux claims that he worked as a voluntary (unpaid) spy” (Patrick and Baister, 64). Despite the fact that some members of the British government were well aware that Le Queux’s accounts of German spies in Spies of the Kaiser were far-fetched, and that protagonists such as Ray Raymond were wholly fictional, these novels had a dramatic effect on public opinion and hence on government policy. The so-called “spy mania” of the early twentieth century was largely due to the work of Le Queux, and the letters he received from numerous readers claiming knowledge of actual German espionage. Edmonds informed the Committee of Imperial Defence (CID)—newly formed in March 1909—that the numbers of cases of German espionage had dramatically increased since 1907. Ultimately, a subcommittee of the CID recommended the establishment of the Secret Service Bureau, the precursor of the Secret Intelligence Service (Andrew, 20). Hence, the early spy novel does not merely reflect but helped to shape the atmosphere of distrust of Germany and “spy mania” that led to the formation of the first government Secret Service in Britain. Le Queux’s works mirror the changing identity of Britain’s enemies: As Alan Hepburn notes, “Le Queux varies the enemy according to shifting alliances and animosities now French, now German” (Intrigue, 11). There is a paradox evident in this period of spy mania that has continued to affect the development of spy fiction since the early twentieth century. By definition, the Secret Service is a clandestine organization, much of whose activity must remain shrouded from public knowledge. As Andrew states of the formation of this organization: “The report approved by the subcommittee on the establishment of the Secret Service Bureau was considered ‘of so secret a nature’ that only a single copy was made and handed over for safekeeping to the Director of Military Operations. Once established, the Bureau remained so secret that its existence was known only to a small

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group of senior Whitehall officials and ministers who never mentioned it to the uninitiated” (Andrew, 20). Mansfield Cumming, the first head of Britain’s Secret Service, objected to “War Office Interference” with his Bureau citing the importance “of maintaining the Secrecy which is an essential of its success or even its continuance” (Jeffery, 144). Cumming further objected to government interference with his organization as “‘utterly unworkable from the points of view of Efficiency and Economy and most important of all— Secrecy’” (Jeffery, 148, original emphasis). Yet for all Cumming’s obsessive preoccupation with secrecy, on the other hand the spy novels of Le Queux, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Childers, and their contemporaries, were widely read bestsellers that attracted much publicity and sparked animated public discussion about the role of secret intelligence in international relations. Even the subtitle of Childers’s novel, “A Record of Secret Service,” foregrounded the role of the secret service in early popular spy narrative, and highlighted the apparent contradiction between publication and secrecy. Espionage was a matter of great popular interest, the subject of bestselling fiction—as Le Queux’s biographers note of Invasion of 1910, “the book sold over a million copies and was translated into twenty-seven languages. Ironically, the book sold well in Germany too” (Patrick and Baister, 62)—and yet the actual establishment of a Secret Service, as well as its operations, was hidden from public knowledge. As Nigel West observes, “The idea that a modern liberal democracy with an effective parliament should tolerate or even endorse a clandestine body that is not accountable to the electorate is an aberration yet, until the enactment of the Intelligence Services Bill in 1994, that was precisely the position held by SIS and its successive Chiefs” (West, At Her Majesty’s, 15). West goes onto to note the anomaly that such covert activities and culture of secrecy have generated so much popular literature and film: “the paradox at the heart of the British system is that, thanks to a succession of novelists … the ubiquitous British Secret Service is the best known intelligence agency in the world, with half the globe’s population having watched a James Bond movie” (West, At Her Majesty’s, 16–17). Indeed, the mass readership and audience numbers of spy fiction is testament to the ongoing fascination with the culture of secrecy that surrounds the real intelligence operations of Britain’s and other governments. This culture of secrecy was formally established in Britain by the OSA of 1911, only two years after the formation of the Secret Service bureau. As Ann Rogers argues, this Act marked a watershed in the history of the British state, and officially recognized the vulnerability of Britain to foreign invasion and attack: The 1911 Official Secrets Act was passed during the Agadir Crisis, with German gunboats threatening British spheres of influence and Lloyd George



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warning of impending war. In such an atmosphere, parliament, the press and the public acquiesced to legislation that had been previously opposed… . The state legitimated the changes by invoking the national security threat. (Rogers, 13)18

Rogers uses the phrase “the bureaucratization of secrecy” to convey how state power exploited the OSA to control the flow of information, not just to potential foreign enemies but within the domestic population as well. Where Childers had urged the need for greater public vigilance, the OSA institutionalized a demand for greater government secrecy. As Rogers notes, “the contemporary justification for the new national security regime stressed the state’s need for legislation to combat espionage, but the effect was to maintain strict control of official information, to prevent its falling into hostile hands—hands that could belong to its own electorate as easily as a foreign power” (Rogers, 23–4). Rogers’s wider point is that the OSA served as a repressive mechanism of state power, as “National security thus became the rationale for a totalizing strategy of state control over information” (Rogers, 26). Rogers notes “[t]he contribution of fiction writers to the origins of modern British intelligence” (21) and the importance of spy fiction in the process by which “the British public was transformed into a nation of would-be spy-catchers who were constantly reporting sightseeing continental tourists and ‘suspicious’ foreigners to the authorities” (Rogers, 21). On the other hand, the OSA sought to suppress discourse—including fiction—that might reveal details of covert operations and intelligence gathering to the public. In a culture in which “all official information was defined as being subject to the control of the state” (Rogers, 30), those who had worked in the Secret Service were subject to strict regulations about the disclosure of their “official” knowledge in written form. These restrictions were widened in the 1920 Amendment, which made it possible “to bring a case under a lesser section 2 (unauthorized disclosure) charge if there was insufficient evidence for an espionage prosecution” (Rogers, 30). This could be used to prosecute writers who revealed details of their intelligence work—in a memoir, for example. Such was the case with Compton Mackenzie, who had worked in British intelligence during World War I; Mackenzie’s memoir Greek Memories (1932) brought him into trouble with the authorities due to information he revealed about specific missions (McCormick, 127). Mackenzie was prosecuted under the OSA, brought to trial and eventually fined £100. One of the more absurd charges against him was that “he had ‘revealed the mysterious consonant by which the Chief of the Secret Service was known’” (McCormick, 128). Mackenzie went on to gain revenge by writing a novel spoofing the British Secret Service, aptly titled Water on the Brain (McCormick, 128).

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As this case illustrates, fiction-writers who had served in the Secret Service were generally immune to prosecution under the OSA: hence, those former intelligence agents who wished to write about their experiences in published form, inevitably gravitated towards spy fiction. Of course, novelists could be reprimanded by those in power—as “Dick White upbraided Graham Greene over a convivial lunch after the release of The Human Factor” and “Maurice Oldfield … strongly disapproved of the handiwork of David Cornwell/John Le Carré” (West, At Her Majesty’s, 17)—but they were generally exempt from legal retribution. An intriguing commentary on this exemption of “romantic” fiction from censorship appears in Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice (YOLT) (1964), in which M (Fleming’s equivalent of “C”) has to write an obituary for James Bond: in a striking metafictional reference, M comments that “a series of popular books came to be written around him by a personal friend and former colleague of James Bond. If the quality of these books, or their degree of veracity, had been any higher, the author would certainly have been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act” (YOLT, 202).19 Fleming here inserts himself into the fiction, claiming the implied status of Bond’s “personal friend,” even while he disparages the quality of his own work. Fleming’s published stories about Bond are exempt from prosecution because they are viewed as “high flown and romantic caricatures” (202) rather than realistic fiction. Fleming, using the guise of Bond’s obituary, here reveals his choice of romantic spy fiction as a necessary defense against prosecution under the OSA. As Fleming makes clear, it was only because the Bond novels lacked a “degree of veracity” that they were spared prosecution.20 However, as Nigel West has pointed out, there were in fact numerous memoirs published that dealt with experiences of intelligence agents: “The evidence suggests that much has been written about the famous British Secret Services from within, in both fictional and non-fictional terms” (“Faction,” 286). West notes a category of nonfiction by former spies that “is a recognizable genre of personal memoir mixed with disclosure which is to some extent anomalous because of the atmosphere of secrecy which is supposed to prevail” (“Faction,” 285). In other words, the rigid distinction between memoir—which can be prosecuted under the OSA—and fiction (which cannot), does not always hold up in practice. Herself the author of a controversial memoir, Open Secret, Stella Rimington—the former Director General of MI5 turned spy novelist—makes a distinction between the “realistic” and the “romantic” traditions of spy stories, identifying Le Queux as an early proponent of the latter tradition (“Introduction,” xiv).21 In the postwar era, the romantic school of spy fiction, led by Fleming, had a distinct advantage vis-à-vis the OSA. Fleming’s novels became increasingly successful—especially following JFK’s announcement that FRWL was one of his top ten books—but their success was eclipsed by



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that of the film franchise that brought global recognition to the British Secret Service: Colin McColl, who held the position of “C” between 1988–1994, stated in 2002 that “James Bond is the best recruiting sergeant in the world” (West, At Her Majesty’s, 214). By contrast, the most famous proponent of realistic spy fiction, John le Carré, wrote under an assumed name. McCormick describes John le Carré’s fiction as “a salutary antidote to previous spy fiction, a much more accurate interpretation of the complex intrigues of the rival Secret Services during the Cold War” (Who’s Who, 110).22 Le Carré’s realism, then, serves as a useful benchmark for defining a distinction between “romantic” spy fiction and the “realistic” tradition that attempts a more authentic account of the twilight world of espionage. Unlike the inner workings of the Secret Service, the identity and location of the chief enemy facing Britain’s security services might be assumed to be a matter of public knowledge. As reflected by the works of John Buchan, in particular, Germany would remain the chief enemy as imagined in the spy novel through the end of World War I, although the specific source of menace would grow somewhat murkier in Greenmantle, in which Hannay’s team seeks to thwart a rising Islamic prophet who can aid the German war effort. During the interwar period and World War II, the enemy shifts from Bolshevik Russia to Nazi Germany, yet in the spy novels of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene there is a lack of clarity about the specific nationality of the enemy. Greene’s The Ministry of Fear (1943) features an international conspiracy orchestrated in Britain by two Austrian refugees, the Hilfes, but the most sinister villain is arguably Dr. John, the Englishman in whose sanitarium Rowe is held. Greene’s The Confidential Agent (1939), features “D,” who is a secret agent for a Latin government that seems based on the Spanish Republican government. In England on a vital mission to obtain coal for his own government, “D” represents the shifting allegiances and loyalties of the interwar period. Similarly, the work of Ambler focuses on international intrigues, involving espionage as well as financial conspiracies that cross over national boundaries. There is no clearly defined “enemy state” in novels such as Cause for Alarm (1938), Epitaph for a Spy (1938), or A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939). Indeed, the mysterious villain of the latter novel is sinister in part because of his ability to move easily between national identities. Greene would also exploit this rootless aspect of the villain in The Third Man (1950), in which Harry Lime’s national allegiance is portable, as he occupies different sectors of postwar Vienna.23 To some degree the detachment of the enemy from any specific nation in Ambler and Greene, reflects their left-leaning politics. David Stafford, noting that Joseph Vadassy from Epitaph represents “the classic Ambler character: the stateless person with no clear national identity, who probably carries several passports—or no passport at all” (Silent Game)—links this to

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the fact that his novels “are strongly marked by left-wing idealism. Ambler was the first spy writer to attack capitalism” (133). Renouncing the more reactionary identification of evil exclusively with a foreign power—such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union—Greene and Ambler at once show the evil impulses present in “us” as well as “them,” and identify political corruption within the excesses of capitalist society. In many ways, they are the precursors of postwar spy novelists such as Len Deighton, who explore the hypocrisy and corruption of Britain’s own establishment from an explicitly working-class perspective, rather than focusing on foreign malefactors. As McCormick notes, “Deighton gave [his protagonist] the right kind of anonymity for the public mood, that of a working-class boy from Burnley suddenly precipitated into a strange new world of intrigue among people out of his class whom he does not trust” (Who’s Who, 62). The enemy could be as readily found in the upper-class British controller as in the obviously foreign (and sinister) agent. Just as James Bond marked a significant turning point in the evolution of British spy fiction, the reaction against him in postwar spy novelists such as Deighton and le Carré has proved decisive. Whereas Fleming’s Bond— despite his occasional feuds with M and disobedience of orders—was very much an establishment figure, protagonists such as Deighton’s Harry Palmer were oppositional and insubordinate figures. As Cawelti and Rosenberg point out, “the major change in the spy story in the 1950s was the emergence of a highly successful new version of the heroic spy story. Ian Fleming was the leading figure in this ‘renaissance.’…James Bond became the Cold War’s favorite agent, the spy whom the public loved” (Spy Story, 50). For Bond, the enemy remains inscrutably foreign, despite the shifts in his national identity. Hence, the James Bond novels dramatize a gradual transition from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union as the chief enemy of Britain and its allies. In writing his fiction, Fleming drew heavily on his experiences in Naval Intelligence during World War II, and this background is reflected in the strong traces of Britain’s enmity with Germany in the novels. Although the Soviet Union—Britain’s ally in the war against Nazi Germany—had emerged as the main threat to NATO by the time Fleming penned Casino Royale (1953), it is clear that Fleming’s imagination continued to use the Nazis as ready-made villains. As Wesley Britton argues, “Fleming intuitively realized that it had become time to move away from the straightforward moralizing aspects of cold war anti-Communist G-men and return to the gentlemen heroes of Buchan, Ambler, and Sax Rohmer that had fascinated him during his own childhood reading” (Beyond, 94). Certainly one can note parallels between Bond, Richard Hannay, and Bulldog Drummond. In villains such as Dr. No— the titular antagonist of the sixth Bond novel, published in 1958—the reader clearly recognizes the influence of Sax Rohmer’s masterful creation,



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Fu Manchu, who embodied the “Yellow Peril” threatening Western society in Rohmer’s melodramatic imagination. Fleming, arguably, has it both ways: his Asian villain is of mixed German and Chinese parentage (163), and defined (physically) by anomalous features such as his pincers (instead of hand) and “completely bald skull down to a sharp chin” (Dr No, 156). He also works for the Russians, in plotting to sabotage American rocket launches from Cape Canaveral.24 Yet Bond is a consummate professional, and his universe is shaped by lingering fears of a Nazi revival. In the second Bond novel, Moonraker (1954) the Nazi menace is more explicit, as the plot features a former Nazi’s ambition to design and build a rocket that will launch an atomic warhead on London. This plan is the brainchild of a Nazi, Hugo von der Drache, who is masquerading as a British philanthropist millionaire Sir Hugo Drax. There are echoes of Buchan’s Hannay and E. Phillips Oppenheim—especially The Great Impersonation (1920) in which a German aristocrat apparently poses as a British landed gentleman, Sir Everard Dominey. However, Fleming’s second novel reveals the powerful imaginative force that World War II still possessed, and the merger of the Nazis and Soviet Russia as an enemy force. Drache is clearly in the service of the Soviet Union—it is a Soviet submarine, for example, that arrives off the coast of England to whisk Drache and his associates away before the nuclear explosion. But the imaginative thrust of the story resides in Drache’s long-harbored plot of revenge against Britain for its defeat of Nazi Germany. His plan to send a nuclear rocket into the heart of London is a symbolic return to, and attempt to reverse the outcome of, World War II. One could cite Fleming’s early novels as evidence that the spy novel invariably lags behind the realities of geopolitical allegiances and enmities. Even in the midst of the Cold War, Fleming is still using Nazi villains to test Bond’s mettle. Yet despite the imaginative force of using German villains, Fleming was clearly apprised of the changing role of Britain in postwar society. In later novels, Fleming would identify the Soviet Union—embodied in SMERSH, the Soviet spy agency—as the main enemy of Britain and the nemesis of James Bond. By the time FRWL appears in 1957—the same year in which the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first artificial space satellite—SMERSH has definitively taken on the role of the enemy, planning a konspiratsia (death sentence) against Bond before 007 even appears in the pages of the novel.25 Reflecting Fleming’s influence, as well as the political conditions of the 1950s and after, the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc would occupy this role of enemy-in-chief in spy fiction throughout the Cold War. Despite the fame of Fleming’s SMERSH, it is significant that East German intelligence plays an equally significant role to that of the Soviet Union in the novels of John le

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Carré and Len Deighton. Le Carré’s landmark spy novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) focused on a British double agent working within East German intelligence, and the novel’s protagonist, Alec Leamas, fabricates his defection to this country. Berlin, as the symbol of politically divided Europe, was of course a popular setting for spy fiction, especially after the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, which provided a physical barrier reflecting the abstract “Iron Curtain” separating Eastern from Western Europe. Berlin was a ready-made location for spy fiction, with its history as Germany’s capital in World War II (Hitler of course committed suicide in Berlin) and, especially following the wall’s construction, as a physical symbol of divided Europe during the Cold War. Deighton’s third novel, Funeral in Berlin, uses the city as the site of a Western plot to extract a Russian scientist who wishes to defect.26 One of the major achievements of postwar spy fiction, Len Deighton’s Bernard Samson series of novels, establishes Berlin as the center of the enemy’s intelligence operations. When Bernard’s wife Fiona—who is also a highly placed British intelligence officer—defects to the other side, it is to East Germany. Ian McEwan uses the divided city of Berlin as the setting for his spy novel The Innocent (1990), in which the main presence of the “enemy” is the East German Vopos (Volkspolizi). The alternation between Nazi Germany, Russia, and East Germany as the site of the enemy is arguably less significant, however, than the change of focus to corruption within Western intelligence organizations themselves. Just as the early spy novelists such as Le Queux had dramatized the presence of the “enemy within,” the postwar spy novel—as readers of le Carré and Deighton will know—found the greatest threat to national security already present within Britain. Whereas Le Queux maintained that the “foreign” spies in Britain could—with greater public vigilance—be identified, policed, and eliminated, the postwar “enemy within” is far more sinister, being a British-born traitor buried within Britain’s own intelligence organization, rather than an external figure based in a hostile nation. We can see this trend emphasizing the traitor within emerging even in Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in which Vesper Lynd—Bond’s beautiful female colleague—is revealed as a Soviet double agent. In postFleming spy fiction, the higher echelons of the Secret Service are exposed as the source of the greatest treachery. One could attribute this new focus to the shockwaves that ran through British society following the Burgess and Maclean spy defection in 1951, compounded by the conviction of Soviet double agent George Blake (a key figure in McEwan’s The Innocent) in 1961, and by Kim Philby’s defection to Moscow in 1963. Because Philby was under suspicion throughout the 1950s, and accused of being the “Third Man,” there was an anxiety that there were highly placed traitors still at large in the Secret Service and MI5. Keith Jeffery points to the irony that



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Philby’s father, St. John, was suspected by Valentine Vivian (head of Section V) of being a Russian spy; the same man, Vivian, went on to foster the career of Kim Philby, thus “the Service’s anti-Communist expert” took “under his avuncular wing the Service’s worst Communist traitor” (Secret History, 208). The lingering effects of the Cambridge spy scandal can be recognized in FRWL, in which James Bond is assigned to a committee “dealing with the delicate intricacies of the Burgess and Maclean case, and with the lessons that could be learned from it” (FRWL,100). Bond sees this as a futile assignment, which he gladly abandons for a new mission in the field. In general, then, the notion that the most dangerous enemy is the highly placed official or agent in one’s own secret intelligence organization comes to the forefront in the post-Fleming spy novel. Following Deighton, the chief exponent of the “traitor within” theme of spy fiction is John le Carré. In The Spy Who, Leamas is used betrayed by Control—the head of his own Service—in order to protect Hans Dieter Mundt who is “London’s man,” a highly placed double agent in the East German intelligence organization. Le Carré’s novel institutes a pattern in which the field agent is willingly sacrificed to protect larger interests. In Tinker, Tailor (1974) the tables are turned, as George Smiley is brought back into the fold to root out the Soviet mole that has buried deep inside “The Circus” (le Carré’s term for SIS). The focus of this novel is on Smiley’s task of identifying which member of the inner circle of the Circus has been giving away Britain’s (and the United States’) most classified secrets. The notion that the most lethal enemy is a member of one’s own power elite had taken root by the early 1960s, making the identification of a foreign enemy seem comparatively banal and predictable. The foreign enemy’s “invasion” of Britain is carried out by its double agents and moles, rather than by its armed forces. The realization that the enemy might be a double agent buried within the host nation, created instability in the binary opposition of “us” and “them,” friend and enemy. Rather than being marked as a racial or ethnic “other,” the double agent functions to confuse the notion of national identity itself. As Hepburn claims, “Espionage, as a narrative genre, promises to conquer otherness” (35); and yet there are strong obstacles to identifying the “other” in question: “the aesthetic problem of the spy thriller is that ideological difference cannot be seen in the body” (Hepburn, 36). As Robert J. Corber argues of Hitchcock’s films of the 1950s, the “paranoia about Communist infiltration” (57) is enhanced by the invisibility of the “other.” Corber links this to contemporary anxieties about sexual difference, which he terms “Cold War fears that ‘the homosexual’ was indistinguishable from ‘the heterosexual’ and had infiltrated all levels of … Society” (Corber, 61). In other words, the “thrills” activated and exploited by spy fiction derive partly from the reader’s

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uncertainty as to whether the narrative will be able to keep its promise of exposing and conquering the “other.” Hence there arises, in the Cold War era, a profound skepticism about the ability of the government to protect its citizens, and a distrust of the status quo, including the right of the political elite to govern the nation. In Britain, this skepticism followed the revelations of treachery in the upper echelons of SIS and the Foreign Office, while in the US it may be attributed to popular opposition to the Vietnam War and the political corruptions revealed during the Watergate scandal. A striking feature of spy fiction from the 1960s on is that the establishment—embodied in the government and the controllers of the Secret Service—is the enemy of the agent. Indeed, this is an understatement, for most agents in spy novels are ambivalent about their own national allegiance. An extreme example is Brian Freemantle’s protagonist, Charlie Muffin, who betrays his own organization to the Soviets in Charlie M (1977). Charlie defends this betrayal—which led to the resignation of Cuthbertson, his chief—by claiming “I rid the service of a man who was bound to lead it to disaster” (181). After the Cold War, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the landscape of spy fiction was dramatically transformed. Even though the focus had increasingly been on the “enemy within”—the mole or double agent—the Soviet Union could no longer be rolled out in the background as the monolithic “enemy,” sponsoring the various killings, seductions, and betrayals of the secret agent. Every Cold War spy had, in a sense, to come in from the cold. Of course, much of the spy fiction of the Cold War era was more complex and sophisticated than this implies. Allan Hepburn notes the emergence of narratives in which “the underhanded machinations of the state” are the greatest threat to the protagonist. (Intrigue, 3–4). Yet without the archetypal opposition of East and West generated by the Cold War, there were predictions that the spy novel would become obsolete.27 Yet new enemies have obviously emerged, in the political world and in fiction, to take the place of the Soviet bloc. As I discuss in my final chapter, particularly since 9/11, Islamic-extremist terrorism has become the focus of much spy fiction, featured in works by le Carré, Frederick Forsyth, Daniel Silva, Alex Berenson, and Stella Rimington. Significantly, the new generation of spy novelists includes various American authors, challenging the traditional dominance of the spy thriller by British writers. Following the detailed and controversial treatment of the Middle Eastern conflict by le Carré, other writers have found material in the ongoing struggle between Israel and the Arab world, in particular Daniel Silva. Rimington, formerly head of MI5, has addressed the domestic terrorist threat of the IRA as well as more contemporary perils presented by al-Qaeda in her fiction, using the idea of a “sleeper” IRA mole in the British Secret Service in her novel Secret



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Asset (2006). More recently Rimington has exploited another legacy of the Cold War, the fraught division between capitalist South Korea and Communist North Korea, as the basis for an espionage plot against UK and US drone technology (The Geneva Trap). Though American-based, Daniel Silva sets many of his novels in post-Cold War Europe, including Britain. His English Girl, for example, develops a plot in which Gabriel Allon (Silva’s Mossad agent) seeks to recover the kidnapped mistress of the British Prime Minister, and uncovers a Russian-originated conspiracy to blackmail the premier and capture Britain’s North Sea oil. Even after the Cold War, Russia remains a prime candidate for the enemy in spy fiction. Moreover, while the Cold War may be superseded as a political reality, it has not disappeared as a subject for contemporary spy fiction. John Banville’s The Untouchable (1997) reopens the history of the Cambridge Five, as his protagonist, the exposed traitor Victor Maskell, is closely based on Anthony Blunt whose identity as the “fifth man” was publicly revealed by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Charles Cumming’s The Trinity Six (2011) also returns to the “Cambridge Five” spy scandal, inventing the idea of another traitor, a “Sixth Man,” still hidden within the British establishment. Films such as The Debt and Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, return the viewer to the height of the Cold War era, revealing that the period still exerts fascination for film audiences.28 The relationship between spy stories and historical events is a vexed one. Allan Hepburn, in Intrigue, has raised the significant question “whether identities associated with spying—recruits, moles, femmes fatales, double agents, leaks—come into being as historical phenomena or whether they exist prior to history and merely find expression within a culture of espionage” (Intrigue, xiii). Hence to identify a particular type of spy with a fixed period or national identity would be an interpretive mistake. This book, however, poses a significantly different question: given this historical contingency of identity and narrative, how do the recurring types or categories of spy influence the form and plot of specific spy narratives? How does the “professional spy,” for example, function differently in the work of a “romantic” spy novelist such as Fleming, as compared to the novels of a realist such as le Carré? While I am interested in whether these espionage identities and roles exist within or outside specific historical frameworks, no less important to this study is how they function as narrative forms, supporting specific types of plots, conflicts, and resolutions. However, there remain distinct periods in the evolution of spy fiction that are a central concern of this book. For example, the transition from the amateur to the professional spy is a crucial development in spy fiction that is explored in several chapters of this study. While any assertion of an absolute distinction between the “amateur” and “professional” spy in fiction would simplistic,

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the shift in emphasis from the accidental spy to the trained operative after World War II is discernible and significant. One of the earliest examples of the British professional agent in fiction, W. Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden: Or the British Agent (1928), is published in the same decade as E. Philips Oppenheim’s The Great Impersonation (1920), which features the consummate gentleman-amateur spy, Sir Everard Dominey. Maugham’s novel is a watershed in more ways than one for, as Donald McCormick observes, “it was not only based on first-hand experience of the world of espionage, but it was the first exposure of what espionage really meant—not romantic melodrama, but long periods of boredom, fear, human weakness, callousness and deceit” (Who’s Who, 138). The novel—or rather, set of stories featuring Ashendon’s various missions—offers a challenge to the romantic idealism of earlier spy fiction, and the agent’s relationship with his controller, R—though it anticipates Bond’s exchanges with M—has none of their friendly repartee. On recruiting Ashenden, R has some grim news for his new agent: “There’s just one thing I think you ought to know before you take on this job. And don’t forget it. If you do well you’ll get no thanks and if you get into trouble you’ll get no help” (19). Accepting these grim terms, Ashenden is launched on his career as a professional spy. The warning echoes that of E23, Kim’s fellow spy in Kipling’s novel: he advises Kim, “to the east is beyond the Queen’s law, and east again lie Jaipur and Gwalior. Neither love spies, and there is no justice” (Kim, 248). When asked by Kim, naively, “But cannot the Government protect?” E23 offers a chilling answer that surely spells the end of carefree boyhood: “We of the Game are beyond protection. If we die, we die. Our names are blotted from the book. That is all” (248). The reality that the spy is outside official society, beyond Government protection, and ultimately disavowable, is a consistent message in the spy novel. It illustrates the point made by Cawelti and Rosenberg, that the spy novel as a genre reflects “the alienation of the individual from the large organizations—corporations, bureaucracies, professions—which dominate our lives… . [I]t is this sense of alienation and the deep feeling of conflict between individual self and social role which it engenders that makes the figure of the spy so compelling as a contemporary everyman hero” (32). This “sense of alienation” produced by confrontation with an unpleasant political reality is a powerful theme in spy fiction from its earliest appearance to the present day. Yet there are archetypal patterns of conflict between hero and villain that transcend the specific political realities of the spy novel. An equally important function of the spy novel is to scrutinize the personal relationships and conflicts that make up the world of espionage, and subject them to an ethical critique. Trust and betrayal, friend and enemy, “us” and “them” begin to merge in the grey world of the espionage novel. The pragmatic notion of alliances summed up in the proverb, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,”



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is an apt description of the provisional nature of loyalty and partnership in the spy novel, from its inception to the present. Of course, for many readers and viewers, the spy novel and film are chiefly appealing as a source of entertainment, even a form of escapism. The genre is often referred to as the “spy thriller,” and the emphasis on “thrills” in part explains the popularity of spy novels and films. Paul Zweig has explored the “moments of abrupt intensity, when our lives seemed paralyzed by risk: a ball clicking around a roulette wheel; a car sliding across an icy road” at which moments “the cat’s paw of chance hovers tantalizingly and suddenly the simplest outcome seems unpredictable” (The Adventurer, 4). Zweig’s point is that “adventure stories transpose our dalliance with risk into a sustained vision. That is why they are often accused of being ‘escapist.’ They remove us radically from ourselves, happening ‘out of this world,’ if this world is taken to mean the circle of relationships and responsibilities that we know” (4). It is the productive tension between the realism of spy fiction—its engagement with pressing conflicts and crises in national politics and international relations—and the “thrills” of the individual hero facing danger and combating lethal enemies that both links the modern spy novel with its Victorian antecedents, and forms the center of interest in this study.

NOTES 1. To list only some of the most significant followers of Scott: Bulwer Lytton’s Rienzi (1835), Thackeray’s Henry Esmond (1852), Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Eliot’s Romola (1863), Hardy’s The Trumpet Major (1880), Pater’s Marius the Epicurean (1885), and Stevenson’s Kidnapped (1886) reveal the longevity of the historical romance. 2. Stevenson anticipated this blurring of the distinction between faction and fiction in “A Humble Remonstrance,” in which he preferred the term “narrative” to “fiction,” arguing that “the art of narrative, in fact, is the same, whether it is applied to the selection and illustration of real series of events or of an imaginary series” (Lantern 193). Stevenson’s historical adventure narrative, Kidnapped, is a fine illustration of this blending of historical fact and imaginative incident, actual and fictional characters. 3. Allan Quatermain, Haggard’s narrator in King Solomon’s Mines, is by no means a juvenile, being “fifty-five last birthday” (7). However his dedication of the novel “to all the big and little boys who read it” (1) indicates his continuing boyhood. By including maps of the territory covered in their adventure novels, Stevenson and Haggard cement the idea that their narratives are grounded in physical and temporal actuality. Even when the action takes place in an imaginary location—such as Treasure Island—the map gives the story “a spine of its own behind the words” (Stevenson, “My First Book” 283).

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4. A slightly different case is where a fictional character is a thinly disguised version of a historical character, but under a different name. For example, John Banville’s protagonist in The Untouchable, Victor Maskell, is a portrait of Anthony Blunt, and Graham Greene was concerned that Maurice Castle, his protagonist in The Human Factor, would be taken as a fictional version of Philby. 5. For an entertaining and informative survey of these possible sources for Bond’s character, see Ben Macintyre, “Who Was James Bond?” (chapter 3 of his For Your Eyes Only). One possible fictional source for Bond not mentioned by Macintyre is Haggard’s character Captain John Good, in King Solomon’s Mines. Haggard’s narrator, Allan Quatermain, identifies him as “a naval officer” (12), a status he equates with being “a gentleman” (12). Notably, John Good—whose name anticipates the blunt Englishness of James Bond—was pensioned off from the navy “with the barren honour of a commander’s rank” (12)—the same rank in the Navy obtained by Ian Fleming and James Bond. Quatermain’s commentary portrays Good as a kind of weapon waiting to be deployed, being “shot out into the cold world to find a living just as they are beginning to really understand their work” (12). 6. See in particular Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands, and Le Queux’s The Invasion of 1910 (discussed below). 7. Andrew’s judgment, however, reflects a perception about the marginal status of the spy novel in relation to “serious” literature. The unstated assumption is that, for a novel to be considered “great” (like Kim, or The Secret Agent), it must “transcend” a popular genre such as the spy novel, even if it shares many of its salient features. 8. There is an interesting fictional example of the use of Kim’s game in spy training, in William Boyd’s Restless: in which the Russian-turned-British-spy Eva Delectorskya is trained by her handler Lucas by using this method. 9. It would be unthinkable for Sir Walter Bullivant, for example, to appeal to mercenary motives in recruiting the service of Richard Hannay. Even James Bond, though not averse to making money during his operations (such as his gambling winnings in casinos), is not controlled by economic means. 10. Added to this Verloc, although he is paid, does not expect to do anything for his money. As Vladimir complains, “As far as I can judge from your record kept here, you have done nothing to earn your money for the last three years” (20). Verloc views his employment by the “secret service fund” as something akin to a private income requiring no labour. His involvement in the plot of an “outrage” at Greenwich is thus accidental, for he is pushed into it by his meeting with Vladimir, the new administrator. 11. Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation of The Secret Agent, Sabotage (1936), attempts to create a romantic story by placing Mrs Verloc at the center of the narrative, and giving her a secondary love interest in the figure of Ted, the policeman. However, as Hitchcock realized, the explosion of the public bus on which Stevie (in the film a normal boy rather than a mentally challenged adult) is carrying the bomb, caused a severe rift with his audience’s sympathies. See Truffaut, Hitchcock chapter 5, especially pp. 108–110. In the US, the film was titled The Woman Alone, reflecting the more prominent status of Mrs Verloc. 12. Vladimir soon uses a more direct insult, demanding of Verloc “what do you mean by getting out of condition like this? You haven’t got even the physique of your profession. You–a member of a starving proletariat—never!” (17).



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13. One of the most common problems for the heads of the Secret Service, especially in its early years, was that of verifying the authenticity and reliability of intelligence reports from paid agents. Keith Jeffery notes the repeated incidences of fraudulence by field agents, as well as political biases. He notes for example of Arthur Ransome (later famous as the author of Swallows and Amazons) who worked for SIS in Russia, “there is no evidence that he was able to supply much—or any—useful intelligence during this period” (Secret History, 174). The classic (fictional) account of a British Secret Service agent who fabricates his reports for official consumption remains Graham Greene’s Wormold in Our Man in Havana. 14. One should note that Verloc’s attempt at decisive action—a bomb placed at the Greenwich observatory, attacking what Vladimir terms the “sacrosanct fetish of today” (25)—is a disastrous failure. Persuading his simple brother-in-law Stevie to carry the bomb, Verloc evades responsibility for the “outrage.” However, Stevie stumbles and drops it, blowing himself to pieces: as the newspaper reports, “All round fragments of a man’s body blown to pieces. That’s all” (Secret, 57). Stevie’s act of terrorism is thus “accidental,” not intentional—in the double sense that he does not know what he is carrying, and that he trips and detonates the bomb prematurely. As Verloc’s “agent,” Stevie is clearly an innocent amateur, and Verloc’s own amateurism is apparent in the selection of his hapless surrogate. 15. Rimington, in tracing the modern spy story back to the “disturbed state of European politics after the 1878 Congress of Berlin and up to the First World War,” notes that spies “escaped celebrity status until they were outed by the storytellers” (“Introduction,” xiii). 16. Hannay’s response may well strike the reader as an authorial intrusion, in that it is “felt to engage the responsibility of the AUTHOR as opposed to that of the narrator” (Prince, Dictionary, 9). 17. Scudder advises Hannay of the growing power of Germany at the beginning of The Thirty-Nine Steps (17). The anti-German rhetoric of Buchan’s novel is overshadowed by the xenophobic obsessions of William Le Queux, one of the most widely read of early spy novelists. 18. Though Rogers does not explicitly note them, there are striking parallels with the US after 9/11, when the passage of the Patriots Act and the formation of Homeland Security—both of which threatened civil liberties—was ensured by the panic surrounding the ongoing threat of domestic terrorism. 19. The idea of M writing Bond’s obituary is returned to in the most recent Bond film, Skyfall (2012). After she has ordered Moneypenny to “take the shot” that hits Bond instead of the enemy agent, M writes an obituary that Bond later describes as “appalling.” On being reminded that she referred to him as “a testament to British fortitude,” Bond replies “that bit was alright.” 20. Despite the alleged immunity of fiction, in fact, the boundary between legitimate and illegitimate forms of discourse was quite unstable, as “seemingly trivial disclosures could be implied to be threatening to the state” (Rogers, 32). Rogers cites a 1921 case in which the state “took issue with a former civil servant’s book about the Supreme War Council,” a book that “utilized a number of official documents.” The government’s conclusion was that “all civil servants were required to seek explicit permission from the government for publishing works related to their

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service for the Crown” (Rogers, 34). The prosecution of Compton Mackenize over Greek Memories, compounded this impression of “arbitrary usage of arrest and prosecution which blurred the lines between legitimate, criminal and traitorous actions” (34). Even though fiction writers were generally protected from such prosecution, the shadow of the OSA has hovered over the spy novel since its inception. 21. In discussing Rimington’s own work as a spy novelist, Robert Lance Snyder uses Michael Denning’s useful distinction between “magical” and “existential” spy fiction. Snyder states, “if we apply these categories to Rimington, her contributions to the genre can be regarded as ‘magical’ rather than ‘existential’ thrillers” (Art of Indirection, 162). 22. According to Miles Copeland, John le Carré is “the favourite writer of British ‘spooks’: ‘They like the way he captures the mood of their world, its internal rivalries and the personal problems that get tangled up with their professional lives’” (McCormick, 111). 23. To add to the confusion, Lime is originally English in Greene’s novella, but is an American (played by Orson Welles) in Carol Reed’s film, for which Greene wrote the original screenplay. 24. In the film version of Dr No, the villain is working for SPECTRE, the international terror organization that invariably replaces SMERSH (or Soviet Secret Intelligence Service) as the primary enemy in the Bond films. At the beginning of the second film, From Russia with Love, Kronsteen—a SPECTRE agent—offers an inducement to “Number 1” that his plan would allow SPECTRE to gain revenge “for the death of our operative, Dr No, because the man the British will use on such a mission will be their agent, James Bond” (FRWL). Thus Kronsteen confirms that Dr. No was a SPECTRE agent. 25. Like the ending of the novel, in which Bond apparently meets his death through the poisoned shoe-blade of Rosa Klebb, the long-delayed entrance of Bond in the novel can be interpreted as a sign that Fleming was already growing weary of his hero, and planned to eliminate him. 26. In Guy Hamilton’s film version of Funeral, it is Colonel Stok himself who apparently wishes to defect to the West, and for whom the fake funeral is arranged. Hamilton, of course, had directed Goldfinger—the third Bond film—and went onto direct three others, indicating the significant overlap between Bond and his cinematic rivals in spy film. These parallels are discussed in chapter 5, below. 27. For a more in-depth discussion of the transition from Cold War spy fiction to post Cold War, see chapter 9 of the present study. 28. While le Carré has abandoned Cold War spy protagonists such as George Smiley, the culture of espionage remains at the center of his creative imagination. In the world of international politics, there has been no shortage of potential threats: as Britton remarks, “in the post-cold war era, the intelligence services of many nations monitored the manufacturing, sales, and purchases of advanced weaponry by countries such as Pakistan, Korea, Iran, and Iraq” (Beyond, 195). The historical developments that have shaped spy fiction since the beginning of the twentieth century did not, of course, cease with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Chapter 2

The Accidental Spy

One can hardly offer a definitive date for the origins of espionage, which probably go back to the ancient world. Espionage is often referred to as the world’s second oldest profession, as the title of Phillip Knightley 1986 study asserts, and it has long been associated with writing and literature. In Britain early modern writers such as Christopher Marlowe, Aphra Behn, and Daniel Defoe worked as spies. Wesley Britton reminds us of the ancient history of espionage, in recounting an anecdote in which film director Cecil B. DeMille introduced Major C.E. Russell of US Army Intelligence to a radio audience. In response to DeMille’s question about what made a good spy, “Russell replied that the requirements hadn’t changed since biblical times. Just like Moses, modern spymasters send out those trained in observation and memory, and gifted with descriptive skills” (Beyond Bond, 2). Yet while the writer-spy has a long tradition, the spy story as a distinctive narrative genre has a more recent origin, beginning to emerge as a recognizable form in the late nineteenth century. Though there are notable exceptions, such as James Fennimore Cooper’s The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground (1821), as John Sutherland notes “the emergence of spy novels as a distinct genre is a feature of the 1880s and 1890s” (Sutherland, Stanford Companion 599). In the early spy novels such as William Le Queux’s A Secret Service (1896), and E. Phillips Oppenheim’s The Mysterious Mr. Sabin (1898), we recognize the nascent signs of covert operations and deception that characterize the modern spy story. Kipling’s Kim, described by Christopher Andrew as “probably the finest of all spy novels,” (Defence, 4) reflects the interweaving of the imperial “romance,” the boys’ adventure story, and the emergent spy novel. In this novel, Kipling—as we have seen—dramatizes the recruitment and deployment of the boy spy, Kim, under the auspices of the British Ethnographic Survey (actually a cover for the Secret Service). In this respect, one might 31

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claim that Kim—despite his tender age—is the first professional secret agent in twentieth-century fiction. Yet this observation brings into sharper relief a paradox about the status and direction of the early spy novel. On the one hand, it had a direct influence on the establishment of a professional intelligence organization in Britain. The novels of Le Queux in particular had a decisive influence on Sir James Edmonds, the head of MO5—an earlier version of British military intelligence—who managed to convince R.B. Haldane, Secretary of State for War, to form a subcommittee of the Committee of Imperial Defence focusing on German espionage in Britain. Edmonds, according to Christopher Andrew, attributed his success in uncovering the vast scale of German espionage in Britain in part to “a flood of correspondence to William Le Queux from readers of his books and newspaper serials” (Defence, 13). It was the subcommittee’s belief in an “‘extensive system of German espionage’ which led to the foundation of the Secret Service Bureau” (Defence, 21). Keith Jeffery—official historian of the SIS (more widely known as MI6)—agrees that the imaginative fiction of Le Queux and his cohorts was instrumental in the formation of Britain’s Secret Service: “Sensational stories of German spies and underground organizations ready to spring into action in the event of a German attack … were fuelled by alarmist ‘invasion scare’ books such as William Le Queux’s bestsellers, The Invasion of 1910 (1906) and Spies of the Kaiser (1909), which reinforced widespread concerns about British vulnerability among public and government alike” (Secret History, 4). Yet, while Jeffery argues that high-ranking military intelligence officers such as General John Spencer Ewart, Colonel James Edmonds and Colonel George Macdonogh all believed that Germany was “actively targeting Britain” (4) with espionage, he also asserts that “the fears of German clandestine networks in Britain were wildly overblown—fantastic, even; there were no legions of German spies and saboteurs” (5). There is thus a discrepancy, from the birth of the spy novel, between the fictionalized presence of enemy spies—and the invention of stalwart heroes to defeat them—and the actuality of espionage both within and outside Britain. Yet the officials of state power are not always able to discriminate between the fantasies of the novelist and the realities of international politics, being subject to public opinion, which itself is informed (if not shaped) by works of fiction. Hence in early twentieth-century Britain, “such was the strength of public opinion that in March 1909 the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, responded to the spy fever by appointing a high-powered sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence … to consider ‘the question of foreign espionage in the United Kingdom” (Jeffery, 5). Thus we witness the merger of fact and fiction, as the CID responds to anxieties stirred up by fiction writers. Nigel West has explored the use of “faction”—a blending of fact and fiction—in the spy



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novel, as one of its characteristic narrative features. The blurring between imagined events and actual ones, then, is an intrinsic feature of the spy novel, and has been since its inception. Yet, while the early spy novelists contributed to the bureaucratization and professionalization of intelligence operations in Britain and elsewhere, the protagonists of these novels are, resolutely, amateurs. It is for this reason that I use the term “accidental spy” to denote the amateur protagonists of novels by Le Queux, Childers, Buchan, and Oppenheim: protagonists that possess no special training or even inclination for espionage and counterespionage, but who become caught up in international conspiracies against British security and respond to the challenge. I use the term “accidental” rather than “amateur” in this chapter, because it connotes not just the status of the fictional spy (amateur vs professional) but also the nature of the protagonist’s involvement in the espionage plot. The engagement with espionage is unwitting and even undesired—the protagonist is, to say the least, unprepared for the challenges that face him—but it produces significant changes in the protagonist’s life and identity. Before the formation of the Secret Service Bureau in 1909, espionage was associated with either “low” mercenaries (such as Adolf Verloc in Conrad’s The Secret Agent), sinister foreign agents such as the French master spy Chauvelin in Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905), or patriotic gentlemen (such as Davies and Carruthers in Childers’s Riddle of the Sands): spying could hardly be termed a professional career in the modern sense. Though intelligence historian Christopher Andrew has characterized one of Le Queux’s heroes, Duckworth Drew, as “an Edwardian prototype of James Bond” (Defence, 4), this cannot disguise the fact that the early spies of fiction have no professional training or official status, and lack the sophisticated equipment and technology that Bond and his fellow-professionals would enjoy. These early protagonists are not paid a salary for their intelligence work. Nor, however, are they accountable to any higher authority, which gives the early spy a sense of freedom and adventure that his professional successors might well envy.1 David Trotter argues that the early spy novel found its “hero in the amateur agent or accidental spy, the sleepy young Englishman whose lassitude and political complacency are shattered when he stumbles across some fiendish plot” (“Politics,” 40).2 Yet no less significant an obstacle for this hero is the stigma attached to espionage as a dubious activity. As well as combatting a foreign enemy, in other words, the accidental spy has to find a way of justifying his espionage activity in terms of a gentlemanly moral code. As one of the anonymous reviewers who assessed the SIS in the early 1920s observed, “the words ‘spy’ and ‘secret service’ have acquired a limited and unpleasant meaning through public misconception due to sensational literature’” (Jeffery,

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The Secret History of MI6, 163). In other words, the reviewer claims, the spy novel itself had helped to propagate a negative image of espionage. Yet early spy novelists were often anxious to challenge the degraded status of spying in the public imagination. In regard to this challenge, the pivotal text is Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands (1903). Neither Davies nor Carruthers has any professional training in espionage, and neither holds an official position in British intelligence or naval hierarchy. Although Carruthers is a minor official in the Foreign Office, which was often a cloak for espionage activity (as Keith Jeffery’s account of the early formative period of the Secret Service Bureau makes clear) there is no direct evidence that Carruthers has been involved in espionage prior to his joining Davies in the Baltic. Davies, we learn, had been rejected as a recruit for the Royal British Navy despite his expertise as a sailor. Both men, then, are firmly outside the official systems of military or state power. In Childers’s novel, the two gentlemen-amateurs become aware of suspicious activity by a group of Germans, led by Dollmann, who are cruising around the Frisian Islands, and decide to investigate. Posing as duck-hunters, they discover a plot that has profound implications for Britain’s national security and for its imperial future. By spying on Dollmann and his entourage, Davies and Carruthers learn that Germany is planning an invasion of Britain using a flotilla of small craft launched from the Frisians. The spy’s stumbling on a conspiracy by happenstance, rather than actively searching for it, is significant, for this chance encounter implies a kind of innocence with respect to espionage. Childers’s novel makes numerous references to Stevenson’s Treasure Island, invoking the romantic associations of the Victorian adventure narrative consumed by its (often juvenile) readers. For example, Davies’s enthusiasm for nautical adventure—“what you want is boats” (111)—echoes that of Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey in Treasure Island, especially when he announces, “what a splendid game to play!” (Riddle, 111). Moreover, the German spies use a treasure hunt—a search for a sunken Spanish galleon—as the cover for their invasion plot. Most explicitly, when Carruthers is hiding on board the German ship, he compares himself to the protagonist of Stevenson’s novel: “the conventional stowaway hides in the hold, but there was only a stokehold here, occupied moreover; nor was there an empty apple-barrel, such as Jim of Treasure Island found so useful” (Riddle, 243). Such references create a sense of play—of the game—around espionage, ridding it of some of the associations of corrupt, adult mercenary behavior. By suggesting that the gentleman may be involved in espionage without being tainted with duplicity, craft, cunning, and even treachery, Childers and his successors prepared the groundwork for the modern spy hero. The element of chance in the accidental spy’s encounter with intrigue also plays a key role in engaging the reader in the narrative. This type of spy has an “everyman” quality, implying that no special skills or training are



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necessary for the individual to play a role in international affairs and espionage. The reader will be able to fantasize about his or her own involvement in espionage, through identification with this everyman protagonist. Cawelti and Rosenberg have identified “the clandestine protagonist as a symbol of everyman in the twentieth century” (32). Whereas the professional spy will often possess an expertise and thorough training that excludes the ordinary reader, no such obstacle impedes identification with the accidental spy. The ordinariness of the spy protagonist in Childers’s novel, also plays an important part in the didactic purpose of Riddle: to alert the British public to the dangerous weaknesses in the nation’s coastal defenses and to instigate change in policy in order to protect the nation from foreign invasion. Given the government’s blindness or complacency to this threat, Childers is urging the public—as represented by the reader—to fill in the gaps in these defenses, by imitating the vigilance and voluntary service of Davies and Carruthers. As Childers explains this purpose in his Epilogue, “our primary purpose is to reach everyone; and there may be many who, in spite or able and authoritative warnings frequently uttered since these events occurred, are still prone to treat the German danger as an idle ‘bogey,’ and may be disposed, in this case, to imagine that a baseless romance has been foisted on them” (Riddle, 260). Childers’s selection of down-to-earth, ordinary men as his protagonist reflects his concern that his novel might be dismissed as frivolous entertainment. Of course, Davies is the true accidental spy, while Carruthers is recruited by Davies, who has already become suspicious of German nautical activity. Using the false pretense of a leisurely yachting cruise, Davies seduces Carruthers into helping him track the dubious activities of Dollmann and his ominously named boat the Medusa. Davies has been navigating the shallow waters of the Frisian Islands as an amateur—but highly skilled—yachtsman, for the purposes of recreation. His accidental encounter with Dollmann, however, leads him to believe that the German captain is trying to conceal his true reason for being in the North Sea. This is confirmed when Dollmann offers to guide Davies’s boat through a difficult passage of the islands, and tricks him into almost capsizing. As Carruthers will later observe, “On one of our fine days I saw the scene of Davies’s original adventure … I realized by ocular proof that no more fatal trap could have been devised for an innocent stranger” (Riddle, 109, emphasis added). Two points stand out in Carruthers’s comment: first is the importance of “ocular proof,” a vital part of the spy’s method, in that the spy is committed to observation and surveillance in order to discover the enemy’s intentions. While the spy may develop theories and hypotheses, he or she relies chiefly on empirical evidence. The spy, in other words, develops a “way of seeing” that—similar to that of the detective—is driven by a hermeneutic of suspicion and a desire for “evidence.” The second notable point is that the accidental spy—in this case Davies—is

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denominated an “innocent stranger.” Rather than looking for trouble, he becomes the unwitting victim of a conspiracy that he then has to protect himself against. Of course, Carruthers has already begun to suspect that Davies knows more than he is letting on, when he studies the Dulcibella’s log and finds “that a page had been torn out of the book just at this point. The frayed edge left had been pruned and picked into very small limits; but dissimulation was not Davies’s strong point, and a child could have seen that a leaf was missing” (48). Again, Davies’s lack of skill at dissimulation reinforces the idea of his innocence, suggesting that he is a novice drawn into the spy world reluctantly, and forced to behave contrary to his nature. Though Carruthers refers to Davies at one point as “a tiresome enigma” (53), he generally admires his friend’s courage and resourcefulness in tracking down the enemy spies. Despite their differences, the two men investigate the Medusa and the other German operatives together, in a display of teamwork at times reminiscent of Doyle’s Holmes and Watson (Carruthers’s role as narrator, who is usually one step behind his partner, places him in the Dr. Watson category). During one of the narrative highlights of the novel—Davies’s epic navigational and physical feat of rowing their boat to Memmert island—Carruthers praises Davies’s “supreme aptitude for the work” (109), noting that “He had … that intuition which is independent of acquired skill, and is at the root of all genius; which, to take cases analogous to his own, is the last quality of the perfect guide or scout” (109). Davies’s strength is “intuition” rather than training or “acquired skill,” and these are key qualities of the accidental spy. Once on Memmert, Carruthers (who is the landsman to Davies’s seaman) takes over and spies on the Germans in their lair where he discovers that the ostensible reason for their presence—trying to recover the treasure aboard a wrecked Spanish galleon sunk centuries earlier—is a mere cover, and that they are actually plotting a naval invasion against Britain. Significantly, Davies bases his entire theory of naval defense on a belief in the importance of the individual with no special training. Davies’s allusion to national defense as a “splendid game” recalls Kipling’s Kim, who longs to be a player in the “Great Game” of Britain’s imperial rivalry with Russia. In Childers’s case, the identity of the enemy has switched from Russia— threatening Britain’s northern Indian empire—to Germany, posing a danger to Britain’s own domestic security. Following the October Revolution of 1917, the Russians—specifically the Bolsheviks—would again be perceived as the main threat to Britain’s security. In the years prior to World War I, however, the Kaiser’s Germany is recognized as the chief menace, as well as being, paradoxically, an object of admiration. Regardless of the specific enemy, the idea of the “game” is again used to suggest the amateur’s love of adventure rather than the professional’s assigned missions.3



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Already in Childers, though, we have the sense that this language of the “game” is becoming obsolete, unable to wholly conceal the covert methods and often complex motives of espionage. A turning point in the novel occurs when Davies tells Carruthers his suspicions about Dollmann, and states: “You see, I had come to the conclusion that that chap was a spy” (68, original emphasis). Nothing has prepared either Carruthers or the reader for this sudden announcement, which accounts for Carruthers’s reaction of “profound amazement” (69). Having expressed this view there is no turning back, for the two men must now confront the reality that their activities are no longer part of an innocent schoolboy’s “game” but connected to a dangerous conspiracy. Moreover, the explicit reference to the “spy” raises the disturbing possibility that Carruthers and Davies are—or might become—spies themselves, implicated in the same dishonorable behavior as their foreign quarry: “‘It’s a delicate matter’ I mused, dubiously, ‘if your theory’s correct. Spying on a spy’” (79). Davies defends the freedom of the amateur gentleman spy to go where he pleases, yet, despite his apparent assent—“I don’t think you’re likely to do anything dishonourable” (79) he concedes—Carruthers remains uneasy about the risks of their association with espionage: “I only mean that developments are possible, which you don’t reckon on … mightn’t we come to be genuine spies ourselves?”’ (80). At stake here is not just the two men’s anxiety about doing something “dishonourable,” but the status of the spy novel itself as an emergent genre. With its roots in the Victorian adventure story, the spy novel must inevitably move beyond the exotic settings of romance, to introduce the (sometimes sordid) political realities of spying and map them onto their pursuit of a “perilous adventure.” Davies’s rejoinder seeks to justify the practice of spying by the two adventurers, in the name of national security: “‘If it comes to that, why shouldn’t we? I look at it like this. The man’s [Dollmann’s] an Englishman, and if he’s in with Germany he’s a traitor to us, and we as Englishmen have a right to expose him. If we can’t do it without spying we’ve a right to spy, at our own risk’” (80). The admission that spying is done at their “own risk” highlights the fact that the accidental spy has no reliance on official support or government sponsorship. Because he is risking his own life, the accidental spy has the right to pursue espionage and to use all the resources at his disposal. I use the term “accidental spy” to refer primarily to the agent’s method of pursuing espionage, rather than his or her actual status (or the lack thereof) within an intelligence organization. The protagonist’s transformation from an “everyman” into a secret agent is often sparked by desire for, or intrigue about, another mysterious person, rather than a conscious desire to engage in spying. The protagonist of E. Phillips Oppenheim’s influential novel Mysterious Mr. Sabin (1898)—a man-about-town named Wolfenden—happens to see a

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beautiful woman enter the restaurant where he is dining, accompanied by an older man. It is the woman’s enigmatic beauty that first appeals to him, and draws his attention, but her companion is also intriguing. This man proves to be the “Mysterious Mr. Sabin” of the title, who will draw Wolfenden into a plot involving a planned German invasion of Britain, and involve him in Sabin’s attempt to steal plans of Britain’s coastal defenses from Wolfenden’s father, Admiral Deringham. Even more spectacularly in The Secret, Oppenheim’s protagonist, Hardcross Courage, is relaxing in his hotel room when his apartment is suddenly invaded by a man who begs to hide in the room. This intruder is then pursued by several other men, who demand that Courage turn him over. The man, it transpires, is a spy whose cover name is Leslie Guest— his real identity being Wortley Foote the spy—and this chance encounter will lead Courage into a web of intrigue. Prior to this, Courage had been living a life of leisure, indifferent to everything save his own pleasure. As a result of meeting Guest—as well as Adele von Hoyt, a beautiful American woman connected with espionage—Courage will become an active spy and help to thwart a German invasion plot. These scenarios—in which the accidental spy becomes immersed in espionage through a chance encounter—establish espionage as a continuation of the life of the leisured gentleman. Thus they anticipate the role of the most influential accidental spy, John Buchan’s Richard Hannay. It is by accident that Hannay becomes involved in the plot of the Black Stone, in Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915). Though Hannay does not have the susceptibility to female beauty of his fictional predecessors, it is a chance encounter with a foreign male stranger—the American spy Franklin P. Scudder—that launches him into an international intrigue.4 Before moving to a more detailed discussion of Buchan’s fiction, however, it is important to acknowledge another influential source on the accidental spy: Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Doyle’s reputation, of course, rests largely on his founding of the modern detective story, beginning with 1887’s A Study in Scarlet. However, I will argue that Sherlock Holmes is another important influence on the evolution of the spy novel in the twentieth century. Structurally there are intriguing parallels between the pursuit of foreign spies lurking in Britain, and the detection of criminals hiding in the interstices of English society. I will argue that the genres merge together at certain points, and that Sherlock Holmes, the greatest of Victorian detectives, may also be placed in the category of the “accidental spy.” Of course, Holmes’s preparation, knowledge of forensic science, organization, discipline, appropriate use of technologies, and emotional detachment all seem to mark him as an expert devoid of amateurism. There is a contradiction, however, embedded in Holmes’s relationship to the professional police force. He is, technically, a private detective, who works



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outside—or parallel to—the official organizations of law and order and is— therefore—in a position to pursue only those cases that pique his interest. Yet, Holmes is far more advanced in his methods of detection, as well as his use of various technologies (including chemical analysis and the use of elaborate disguises) than his counterparts from Scotland Yard, such as Inspector Lestrade. Typically, Holmes enters a case when the police have reached a dead end, and goes on to expose the shortcomings and incompetence of the police force, while also generously providing them with clues towards the solution of a mystery. Holmes is not interested in receiving the credit for the solved case: another way of putting this is that he, like a successful spy, works best undercover. I would argue, moreover, that Holmes can be defined as an accidental spy because his involvement in espionage occurs largely by chance, as the unforeseen consequences of his involvement in a case that engages his interest for other reasons. He is also launched into matters of national security through encounters with others. In several cases, the outsider who prompts Holmes into engagement with spy craft is his older brother, Mycroft Holmes. A somewhat shadowy figure, Mycroft has brains to equal his distinguished younger sibling, but lacks Sherlock’s energy and drive. He leads Holmes into the case of the “Greek Interpreter,” published in 1893. More relevantly to this chapter, it is Mycroft who leads Holmes to the pursuit of foreign spies and government traitors in “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans,” first published in 1912, shortly before Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps. In this story, we learn more about Mycroft’s crucial but enigmatic role in the British government, as Holmes informs Watson that his brother does not merely work for the British government, “You would also be right in a sense if you said that occasionally he is the British Government” (“Bruce,” 99). Holmes thereby mystifies his brother’s role, refusing to disclose his official position. In response to Watson’s incredulity, Holmes asserts that his brother “remains the most indispensable man in the country … his position is unique” (99). Given the timing of the story, a few years after the formation of the Secret Service Bureau under Mansfield Cumming, it is at least possible that Mycroft is a fictional “C”—the head of a Secret Service—making Sherlock Holmes a special agent that it calls on in an emergency. Holmes does nothing to dismiss this enigmatic role, noting of Mycroft, “his speciality is omniscience” (“Bruce,” 101). Mycroft only calls on Sherlock when he has particular need of his brother’s unique abilities and tireless energy. Yet we should note that Holmes does not at first realize he is becoming involved in an espionage case in “Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans.” Rather, it seems to be a case of murder: a government employee, Arthur Cadogan West, has been found dead on the London Underground train line at Aldgate station. His head is badly crushed,

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and yet there is little blood at the scene. The mystery surrounding his death is compounded by the fact that Cadogan West has no train ticket on this person, and is in the possession of the plans for the top-secret Bruce-Partington Submarine, to which he had no official access. Mycroft describes these plans as “the most jealously guarded of all Government secrets” (104). Of the ten papers that were taken from the Arsenal at Woolwich, where they were held, only seven are found on West’s body, implying that he has sold or betrayed the contents of the three missing papers, which are the “the three most essential” (104), crucial to the construction of the submarine, and would be invaluable to a rival power (which implies, at this period, Germany). This plot anticipates the theft of Government military secrets in The Thirty-Nine Steps, in which the French minister admits, “I talked freely when that man was here. I told something of the military plans of my Government … that information would be worth many millions to our enemies” (Thirty-Nine, 106). As we have touched on above—particularly with reference to Childers’s novel—this was an era in which Britain’s maritime and naval supremacy—as celebrated in “Rule Britannia”—was coming under serious threat, especially from Germany. Childers, we have seen, envisaged a scenario in which Britain’s unprotected coastline would become a fatal weakness, allowing Germany to invade in a flotilla of small vessels. In Childers’s view “the naval progress and naval aspirations of Germany [are] the most interesting phenomena in the evolution of modern Europe” and “receive sincere and unstinted admiration” (Riddle, 2) in his novel. Doyle and Buchan are less admiring in their tone toward German imperial aspirations of naval supremacy: they share with Childers, however, a fear that the espionage plot against Britain is far advanced. The development of efficient and powerful submarines by the Navy was designed to strengthen Britain’s defenses, allowing the subs to patrol the coastline unseen. As Mycroft informs Holmes, “naval warfare becomes impossible within the radius of a Bruce-Partington operation” (“BrucePartington,” 104). Yet in Doyle’s story, this advanced naval technology, while giving Britain a distinct advantage over its rivals, can itself become a liability, as it attracts enemy attention and renders Britain vulnerable to espionage by foreign powers. As the case develops, Holmes turns his attention from the specific cause of Cadogan West’s death—realizing that he must have been killed somewhere else, and deposited at Aldgate Station—to the larger conspiracy threatening Britain’s security. On first hearing of the “technical papers” found on Cadogan West’s body, Holmes realizes the serious implications of the discovery: “There we have it at last, Watson! British Government—Woolwich Arsenal—Technical papers—Brother Mycroft, the chain is complete” (102). As he realizes that Britain’s national security is at risk, Holmes asks for “a complete list of all foreign spies or international agents known to be in England, with full address” (“Bruce-Partington,” 111).



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In addition to his concern for Britain’s national security, Holmes also represents the transformation of the English man of leisure, under the influence of work of high national importance, into a dedicated patriot. David Trotter has identified a “suspicion that the English gentleman was not all that he might be, an anxiety that the rot which had already destroyed the working classes might also be reaching the upper and middle classes” (“Politics,” 32). Trotter argues that the early spy novel plays an important role in figuring the regeneration of these upper classes, nothing that “the adventures of the secret agent, like those of any hero, do not simply confirm what he already is: they regenerate him, physically, morally, and, most important of all, politically” (“Politics,” 32). In similar fashion we see that Holmes, while involved in a spy plot, undergoes a transformation that leaves his ennui and lassitude behind: significantly Doyle, in the guise of Watson, uses the image of a “foxhound with hanging ears and drooping tail as it lolls about the kennels” (“Bruce,” 111) to emphasize “the change in Holmes since the morning. He was a different man to the limp and lounging figure in the mouse-coloured dressing-gown who had prowled so restlessly only a few hours before round the fog-girt room” (“Bruce,” 112). Holmes’s decadent side is best represented in his use of opium to combat the boredom that afflicts him when he lacks a challenging case: in such moods he seems to belong in the company of Dorian Gray rather than Richard Hannay. The imagery of lethargy and passivity only heightens the contrast with the newly masculinized Holmes as he, like the hound, “with gleaming eyes and straining muscles … runs upon a breast-high scent” (112). Unlike the professional agent, the accidental spy needs a sense of political urgency to spark his regeneration. Doyle’s politicizing of the detective genre—giving Holmes a role in matters of national security—is a significant step toward the emergence of the spy novel. Having cast his net of counterespionage widely, Holmes narrows the search down to one foreign spy: Hugo Olberstein, whose dwelling abuts an Underground railway line. Using this information, Holmes reconstructs the scene of the death, deducing that West must have been killed at Olberstein’s house, and his body placed on top of an underground train as it stood beneath the spy’s window. This also explains the mysterious “thud” that was heard by a female passenger on the train, as the body was jettisoned when the train switched at the points at Aldgate. Holmes’s detective work merges further with espionage when he notices a series of messages in the Daily Telegraph, placed under the name Pierrot. This is clearly the code name of the foreign spy, but Holmes’s objective is “to get at the man at the other end!” (128)— that is, to identify the traitor who has been selling the secret plans to the enemy. His method of doing so is a classic ruse of spy craft: he places a fake message in the paper, asking for a meeting “tonight. Same hour. Same place” (129), attempting to lure the traitor out of hiding. In a theme that will be

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explored more fully later in this study, the greatest threat to Britain’s military secrets and national security is not the known foreign spy, but the secret traitor within the British establishment. The suspicion that the English gentleman is “not all that he might be” (Trotter, 32)—or indeed all that he might seem—is already apparent in Doyle’s story, as Holmes begins to believe that Cadogan West’s superiors may be behind the betrayal of the Bruce-Partington plans. Sir James Walters, the “official guardian of the papers,” is described by Mycroft as “a gentleman, a favoured guest in the most exalted houses, and above all a man whose patriotism is beyond suspicion” (105). Yet he is not, for this reason, discounted as a suspect by Holmes, who asks of Sir James’s alibi, “Has the fact been verified?” (105). When they call on Sir James, Holmes and Watson are informed by the butler that Walters has died that morning. Sir James’s brother, Valentine, claims that he “could not survive such an affair. It broke his heart” (113).5 Despite Valentine’s apparent devastation by this tragedy, it eventually emerges that it is he—another English gentleman—who has betrayed the nation’s secrets, and who arrives at Oberstein’s house to make the rendezvous set by Holmes. The revelation is dramatic, yet Holmes admits “You can write me down as an ass this time, Watson… . This was not the bird that I was looking for” (“Bruce,” 131). Doyle’s scenario anticipates the much more elaborate denouement of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in which George Smiley—himself a highly skilled detective recruited to carry out the “mole-hunt” within the Circus—discovers that the traitor is a highly placed patrician member of the establishment, and sets a trap that will lure “Gerald,” the mole, into disclosing his identity. In Doyle’s story, Holmes’s contempt for Valentine is as much for his betrayal of his class as of his country: “How an English gentleman could behave in such a manner is beyond my comprehension” (131). Doyle’s story anticipates several key elements of later spy fiction by Fleming, le Carré, and Deighton.6 The initial suspect of treason is a lowly clerk, yet the true villain turns out to be a member of the establishment working in consort with a foreign spy. Doyle’s detective story is embedded in “the secret history of a nation which is often much more intimate and interesting than its public chronicles” (“Bruce,” 134). The period when it was published, prior to World War I, was an era of military escalation, international distrust and tension, which made the theft of military secrets a particularly sensitive issue and, as noted, the story’s focus on the theft of naval secrets is remarkably close to the plot of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Yet Doyle’s story is set in 1895, placing it in a Victorian context before the Anglo-German rivalry had reached its early twentieth-century crisis. Holmes remains the brilliant Victorian detective, able to root out a solution from the most complex of criminal cases. Yet he is also refashioned into the accidental spy, regenerated by a political



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involvement he had not desired or sought. Mycroft’s appeal to his brother is explicitly nationalistic: “Find an answer to all these questions, and you will have done good service for your country” (104). Doyle is clearly looking for ways to recruit Holmes, as it were, to the work of the Secret Service, and Watson is there to remind us of “the great national importance of the issue” (129). In fact, Holmes himself recognizes that his role has changed. No longer simply the private detective, he is working “for England, home and beauty— eh Watson? Martyrs on the altar of our country” (129). Holmes’s connections to his great fictional successor, James Bond, run deeper than it first seems.7 Yet Holmes’s role as a pioneering accidental spy has been occluded not only due to his reputation as a detective, but because he works with a partner: it is Watson, after all, who narrates Holmes’s cases and always plays a role in their solution. By contrast, one of the distinctive features of the spy is that he is a solo agent working without government authorization or recognition. We can see the influence of the Holmes-Watson team in the early spy partnership of Davies and Carruthers, but the spy novel would ultimately take a different course. In this respect, the definitive early example of the accidental spy is the invention of another Scottish adventure writer: John Buchan’s Richard Hannay. Hannay—who first appears in The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915)—introduces several seminal new characteristics to the type of agent we are considering as the “accidental spy.”8 In the first place, Hannay is a “colonial” subject, who has spent most of his life in South Africa (though he was born in Scotland), where he has made a fortune as a mining engineer. In this respect he resembles Kim, a white man who has grown used to life in a multi-racial colony. Kim, as we have seen, is given a “Sahib’s” education as part of his recruitment for the “Great Game,” yet retains his ties to the native culture. Kim will draw on his experience of the bazaar, as Hannay will utilize his knowledge of “veldtcraft.” However, unlike Kim, Hannay is not a fatherless boy but wealthy grown man with a private income, who has chosen to return to the “Old Country” from a sense of nostalgia. Despite his Scottish origin, Hannay’s colonial background gives him an outsider status in relation to British society. He describes himself at the beginning of the novel as “about settled to clear out and get back to the veld, for I was the best bored man in the United Kingdom” (14) and emphasizes his disillusionment with the “Old Country” (14). There are certain resemblances to Childers’s Carruthers, who is also sick of the social scene in London, bored with his work in the Foreign Office, and eager for the chance to escape so that Davies’s invitation to join him on the Dulcibella is enticing. Yet Hannay’s dissatisfaction with London life is specifically connected to his colonial identity: he is disillusioned with the reality of London, as “England was a sort of Arabian Nights to me” (13), and yet he is treated as a foreigner: “They would fling me a question

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or two about South Africa, and then get on their own affairs. A lot of Imperialist ladies asked me to tea to meet schoolmasters from New Zealand and editors from Vancouver, and that was the dismalest business of all” (13). Hannay objects to being lumped together with other “colonials” and treated an alien of little significance. Even his club seems of a lower status than the leading gentleman’s clubs, as he describes it as “rather a pot-house, which took in Colonial members” (14). Hannay’s South African identity is significant to his role as accidental spy in several ways. Firstly, it establishes him as an outsider in British society, who is able to observe and comment on the appearance, traits, and foibles of each class. Hannay will later describe his ambivalent relation to the class system in England: “a man of my sort, who has travelled about the world in rough places, gets on perfectly well with two classes, what you may call the upper and the lower. He understands them and they understand him… . But what fellows like me don’t understand is the great comfortable, satisfied middle-class world, the folk that live in villas and suburbs. He doesn’t know how they look at things, he doesn’t understand their conventions, and he is as shy of them as of a black mamba” (119). Rejecting the dominant middle-class, Hannay implicitly ousts them as the central audience for the story in which he appears. For where the domestic novel had garnered a predominantly bourgeois readership, the “imperial romance” sought its audience in the elite male ruling class. And it is this class whose complacency and blindness is the greatest threat to Britain’s security, according to Le Queux, Childers, and Buchan. It is less a question of whether Hannay can merge with the elite class, as whether—or how—he can transform their attitude. Secondly, Hannay’s expatriate background allows him a degree of social mobility lacking in the homegrown British subject, especially one belonging to the middle class. It gives Hannay the independent frame of mind required to disguise himself when necessary as a member of ‘low’ society, such as a milkman or a grimy road-mender. Moreover, it gives Hannay the critical distance and perceptiveness necessary to penetrate the facade or normality presented by the agents of the Black Stone. Likewise, Hannay’s dislike of the middle class makes him more prone to detect the German imposters who pose as “respectable people” (123). Yet this outsider status and social mobility are not in themselves sufficient to account for Hannay’s becoming an “accidental spy.” Thirdly, and most important, Hannay’s status as a colonial outsider to British society gives him an incentive to accept the mission presented by Scudder’s death. Scudder first approaches Hannay because he, like the American, is a foreigner in Britain— “You looked the kind of man who would understand. I’ve had you in my mind all this week when things got troublesome” (15). He detects signs of the hardy adventurer in Hannay, and so places confidence in him: “I reckon,



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too, you’re an honest man, and not afraid of playing a bold hand. I’m going to confide in you” (15). Scudder also invokes a class and racial bond with Hannay when he praises him: “Let me tell you that you’re a white man” (21). The significant bond of being a “white man” is only meaningful in a society where a significant part of the population is of color, and where the white man seeks to establish a distinctive code of behavior. When Scudder is murdered in Hannay’s flat, he feels a sense of obligation to the agent, and this is connected to the fact that both are risk-takers, outsiders in British society, and not part of the “great … middle-class world.” Hannay anticipates the reader’s skepticism about his willingness to take on such a dangerous assignment: “You may think this ridiculous for a man in danger of his life, but that was the way I looked at it. I am an ordinary sort of fellow, not braver than other people, but I hate to see a good man downed, and that long knife would not be the end of Scudder if I could play the game in his place” (27). The encounter with Scudder and the knife in his guest’s back are the “accidents” that plunge Hannay into a plot of international intrigue, but only because he is willing to step into the dead man’s shoes. Hannay is a dutiful volunteer, not a conscript, in the game of espionage. Given his antipathy to the dominant middle-class class of England and dislike of the social mores of London, the reader may wonder whether Hannay is interested in serving “his country,” or just acting out of loyalty to Scudder. One of the transformations occurring in Hannay is that he begins the novel as a “colonial” and ends up becoming a British subject, who strongly identifies with British interests and will end up joining the British army to fight Germany in World War I. One can read the novel in part as an allegory of the way that the able-bodied men of the colonies can be transformed into British subjects and prevailed on to contribute to Britain’s war effort. This is part of the “regeneration” of the spy hero: a shift from restless, leisured malaise to a self-sacrificing dedication to Britain’s national interests. Yet Hannay will eventually claim that “I had done my best service … before I put on khaki” (126)—in other words, it was his espionage work rather than his military service that defines his contribution to Britain’s security. One can recognize here Buchan’s attempt to ennoble the work of the spy, by emphasizing Hannay’s crucial role in thwarting the German enemy. Because Hannay has no special training as an espionage agent, he must adapt quickly to new challenges by drawing on his previously learned skills. Chief among these is his facility for disguise, which he has learned from the Boer scout Peter Pienaar in South Africa. Hannay’s “everyman” quality— being an outsider to the British class system—allows him to blend easily with the lower classes, and this is reflected in his choice of disguises. Following Scudder’s death, he first disguises himself as a milkman, in order to escape the building, before reverting to a Scotsman traveling in a “third—class smoker,

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occupied by a sailor and a stout woman with a child” (32). Hannay chooses Scotland as his refuge specifically for purposes of camouflage, “for my people were Scotch and I could pass anywhere as an ordinary Scotsman” (29). Like Kim, able to pass as a low-caste Hindu boy, Hannay can conceal himself in order to hide from the enemy: both the Black Stone, and the police. Hannay’s fugitive status is a crucial component of the “hunted man” narrative that The Thirty-Nine Steps deploys. Buchan borrows from Stevenson’s Kidnapped, whose protagonist—the first-person narrator David Balfour—is hunted by the British army as an accomplice to Alan Breck, charged with the Appin Murder. David and Alan’s “flight through the heather” is updated by Buchan to involve a dual pursuit of the protagonist by police and foreign spies. The flight for survival thus has democratic implications, as it pits the accidental spy against official authority and brings him into close contact with the lower classes, creating a deeper sympathy with the life of the unprivileged.9 While displaying upper-class traits, such as access to wealth (Hannay “had been worrying my brokers about my investments” [14] and “had drawn a good sum in gold from the bank two days before” [29]), Hannay also has democratic and populist impulses, which makes him more relatable as a hero of popular fiction. This blend of elitism and populism would be refashioned in the 1950s in the figure of James Bond, a Cambridge-educated “gentleman”—at times somewhat of a snob—who nonetheless appeals to a popular audience. However, Bond would possess the professional training and support that Hannay lacked. In adopting his various disguises, Hannay displays his versatility, his acting skills, and also shows his willingness to “muck in” with the lot of the workingman. The most elaborate disguise employed by Hannay is that of a road-mender, while on the run in Scotland, designed specifically to escape the notice of the spies for Black Stone. Hannay states, “I borrowed his spectacles and filthy old hat; stripped off coat, waistcoat, and collar, and gave him them to carry home; borrowed, too, the foul stump of a clay pipe as an extra property. He indicated my simple tasks, and without more ado set off… . Then I set off to work to dress for the part” (61). We detect the tone of an actor’s relish in the performance, as Hannay’s reference to the pipe as a “property” suggests; yet there is a symbolic function to his stripping away the trappings of the gentleman and adopting the garb of the menial laborer. Hannay, as Trotter reminds us, is “a frontiersman” (“Politics,” 52), able to function in a world where social privilege has no place. In order to survive in the world of espionage, Hannay has to be willing to rough it in adverse conditions. Significantly, Hannay’s disguise has a flaw: his boots are of too high quality for a roadman, a reminder of his former dandyism, “but by dint of kicking among the stones I reduced them to the granite-like surface which marks a roadman’s foot-gear. Then I bit and scraped my finger-nails till the edges were all cracked and



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uneven. The men I was matched against would miss no detail” (62). Though he is an amateur, his attention to detail bespeaks a professional in the making. Hannay knows he must perfect his disguise because he is pitted against professionals: this “against the odds” scenario is a common situation of the accidental spy, who is typically both outnumbered by the opposition and (at least initially) inferior in tradecraft. However, the accidental spy soon acquires the necessary vigilance for survival and victory. Sure enough, Hannay’s elegant footwear does attract the attention of one of the German spies, who notes “You’ve a fine taste in boots… . These were never made by a country shoemaker” (64). In response, Hannay displays another trait of the accidental spy—thinking on his feet—explaining: “They were made in London. I got them frae the gentleman that was here last year for the shootin’” (64). Quick thinking and adaptable, the accidental spy is able to keep one step ahead of his enemies. Lacking the training and official protocols of the professional, the accidental spy must draw on reserves of experience and existing sets of skills to compensate. Hannay illustrates this capacity as, when disguising himself, he “remember[s] an old scout in Rhodesia, who had done many queer things in his day, once telling me that the secret of playing a part was to think yourself into it. You could never keep it up, he said, unless you could manage to convince yourself that you were it” (62). Later, Hannay will draw on his professional skill set when trapped in the lair of his enemy—the Bald Archeologist, or the man who “could hood his eyes like a hawk” (73). Having tried unsuccessfully to bluff his way out of trouble, Hannay is locked in a storage room, where he finds “bottles and cases of queer-smelling stuffs, chemicals no doubt for experiments … there was a box of detonators, and a lot of cord for fuses” (78). Amongst the paraphernalia Hannay discovers “half a dozen little grey bricks, each a couple of inches square… . I hadn’t been a mining engineer for nothing, and I knew lentonite when I saw it” (78). With this fortuitous discovery and using his background as an engineer, Hannay is able to create a makeshift bomb and blast his way out of the storage room, creating “a chance, both for myself and for my country” (78). No training by the Secret Service bureau could have prepared Hannay better for this crisis. Notably, Hannay now identifies with England as “my country,” no longer expressing disdain for the “Old Country.”10 In this episode, we recognize another facet of the “accidental spy” story: not only is his involvement in espionage accidental, but there are a number of fortunate circumstances that aid him. It “just so happens” that there is lentonite in the storeroom—a fact that the enemy spies have apparently overlooked—and that Hannay is able to use this material. Hannay relies on “accidents” to get him out of trouble: even the car accident in which his car is wrecked in “an almighty smash” (50) proves fortuitous, in that it leads to

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his meeting with Sir Harry Bullivant and, then, to Sir Walter, who becomes the means of his access to the political system. The popular appeal of Hannay received a significant boost in the next generation when Alfred Hitchcock adapted Buchan’s novel in his film The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935): a film which helped to make Hannay one of the most popular spy heroes before James Bond. The accidental basis of Hannay’s introduction to espionage is maintained in Hitchcock’s film, but the circumstances are drastically changed in ways that reflect Hitchcock’s different approach to the spy hero. Buchan’s Hannay is very much a man’s man, pursuing adventures in a masculine world deriving from the imperial romance. Aside from the wife of the croft owner with whom Hannay stays, there are few female characters involved in the plot. Significantly, the references to various “romances” made by the “literary innkeeper” are all to precursors in the masculine adventure genre, such as Conrad, Kipling, and Doyle. There is no evidence of Hannay showing any interest in women.11 Hitchcock, however, seeks to broaden Hannay’s appeal and makes him more comfortable with femininity, if not something of a ladies’ man. From the outset of Hannay’s adventures, he is reliant on women for the launch of his mission, for assistance in difficult situations, and for insights that will help him defeat the foreign spy ring—which is named The Thirty-Nine Steps, rather than Black Stone, in the film version. Hannay’s encounter with espionage in Hitchcock’s film occurs through a chance meeting with a beautiful female spy, “Annabella Smith,” rather than an approach by a male American agent (Scudder, in the novel). Hannay encounters Annabella at the Music Hall, an entertainment that Buchan’s Hannay ironically disdains, as being populated by “capering girls and monkey faced men” (14). Having fired the shots that caused a mass exodus from the theatre, Annabella asks Hannay if she can go home with him, a risqué encounter that leads him to learn about the spy ring “The Thirty-Nine Steps.” Hitchcock’s Hannay is less independent, less resourceful, less prone to take the initiative than Buchan’s version, reflecting how the passivity of the “wrong man” comes in to play in many of his films. For example, following the death of Annabella (like Scudder, she is stabbed by the enemy spy while taking refuge in Hannay’s apartment), Hannay—rather than choosing to go to Scotland on his own initiative because of his background there—does so because he is given a map by Annabella Smith, as she dies. Stunned by the trauma of witnessing Annabella’s death, Hitchcock’s Hannay has a flashback of her telling him about a “man in Scotland,” and decides to follow the trail. Whereas Hannay is a solo agent in the novel, using his disguises as the need arises, the film’s Hannay is heavily dependent on others for his survival, particularly a series of women who conceal or protect him. The wife of



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the Scottish crofter with whom Hannay takes refuge—and whose husband betrays him to the police—assists him by giving him her husband’s coat as disguise, a garment that will save his life due to a hymnbook in the pocket that stops a bullet. The woman he meets on the train to Scotland—Pamela—is initially hostile, but after hearing two of the foreign spies discussing him, she comes to believe Hannay’s story and helps him break the enemy spy ring (Hitchcock The Thirty-Nine Steps).12 Hannay’s job of identifying and tracking down the members of the foreign spy ring is also made significantly easier in the film, reducing the level of memory, observational skill, and patience required of the accidental spy. The leader of the spy ring is identified by a joint missing from his finger, clearly easier to spot than a man hooding his eyes like a hawk. While Professor Jordan—the head of The Thirty-Nine Steps spy ring—has created a cover as a respectable citizen in Scotland, there is no nest of foreign spies posing as middle-class Englishmen “quietly absorbed into the landscape” (119)—and Jordan reveals his role directly to Hannay at the Highland lodge where he lives. The film’s Hannay is less cerebral, not having to decode a spy’s cipher or note the impersonation of a high-ranking Naval man by an enemy spy. Even his acts of memory are displaced by the introduction of a new character “Mr Memory,” who is tasked with retaining the details of Britain’s secret new rocket. Yet in his physical courage, quick thinking, and—above all—good fortune, the Hannay of Hitchcock’s film remains an important example of the accidental spy. After his move to Hollywood, Hitchcock would return to the theme of The Thirty-Nine Steps, reanimating the figure of the accidental spy in NNW, a highly successful film produced during the height of the Cold War in 1959. Despite being made in the era of James Bond, rather than Richard Hannay, Hitchcock’s film—which is a key influence on the Bond film franchise—demonstrates the longevity and adaptability of the accidental spy. The film is in many key respects a remake of The Thirty-Nine Steps on a much larger scale, with more famous stars, and with a Cold War emphasis (as the Professor—the head of the American Intelligence Agency— expresses it, “war is hell, Mr Thornhill, even when it’s a cold one” [Lehman 160]) . Like the earlier film, NNW pits the accidental spy against a ring of foreign spies headed by a shadowy villain. In this film, the accidental spy is Roger O. Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) who is far more reluctant than Hannay to become involved in espionage and only does so through kidnapping and coercion. Thornhill, an advertising executive, is having a drink with friends at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan when he is inadvertently mistaken for an American (CIA) agent, George Kaplan. Forced out of the hotel at gunpoint, Thornhill is taken to the headquarters outside the city, of the enemy spy—appropriately named Townsend—interrogated and, when

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he refuses to cooperate, force-fed with bourbon and then set behind the wheel of a car to drive over a cliff. Yet here we witness the resourcefulness and will to survive that characterize Thornhill as an accidental spy: despite being highly intoxicated, he pushes his captor out of the car and manages to drive it until he is caught by the police. Thornhill, having demonstrated his survival skills, becomes committed to uncovering the mystery of George Kaplan’s identity. The film is set against a background of professional espionage organizations, headed by the “Professor,” who informs Thornhill that “George Kaplan” is a fictional creation of this organization, designed to protect its own agent. The film’s screenplay, by Ernest Lehman, draws on a number of the deception plots used by Britain and its allies against Germany in World War II, such as the plot of “Operation Mincemeat,” told in the book The Man Who Never Was, by Ewen Montagu.13 Thornhill is perhaps the ultimate expression of Hitchcock’s “wrong man” theme—the innocent man wrongly accused of a crime—which preoccupied him from the beginning of his career. Early films such as The Lodger and Young and Innocent developed this theme in the context of murder mysteries, and The Thirty-Nine Steps blended this plot with the spy story. Yet NNW brings a new twist to the wrong man plot because not only is Thornhill wrongly mistaken for an American spy, but the man he is mistaken for doesn’t actually exist. George Kaplan is a work of fiction, invented by the American Intelligence Agency in order to deceive the enemy spies and prevent them from discovering the actual American agent, Eve Kendall. In a plan that echoes the elaborate deception plans used by the British in World War II to deceive the Nazis, the Americans fabricate elaborate travel arrangements and behavior patterns—including booking him into a series of high-end hotels—in order to convince Vandamm and his allies that Kaplan is a real agent. As the Professor expresses it, “our non-existent decoy, George Kaplan—created to divert suspicion from our own Number One—has fortuitously become a live decoy” (Lehman, 65–6). On being asked “how long do you think he’s going to stay live?” the Professor answers coldly, “that’s his problem” (Lehman, 66): reiterating the idea that the agent, when out in the field, has only himself to rely on.14 A turning point in the plot of NNW occurs when Thornhill, upset by the police’s lack of interest in the case, goes to investigate Kaplan’s room in the Plaza hotel, and finds himself addressed by hotel staff as “Mr. Kaplan.” Upon inquiry, it turns out that the staff have never seen Mr. Kaplan but just assume it is he, because he is in the room booked under this name. Thornhill will then answer the phone in Kaplan’s room, speaking to one of the henchmen who tried to assassinate him—while still denying that he is Kaplan. Though his initial identification as Kaplan is an accident, Hitchcock traces the process



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by which Thornhill accepts Kaplan’s identity, as a more exciting alternative to his own. When he goes to find Lester Townsend at the United Nations building—believing Townsend to be the man who held him captive at Glen Cove—he introduces himself to the receptionist as “George Kaplan,” signaling his acceptance of this role despite the fact that it has made him a wanted man. As The Thirty-Nine Steps showed the “regeneration” of the gentleman by involvement in espionage, NNW also dramatizes the influence of espionage on the modern middle-class male. According to Robert J. Corber, “in NNW Hitchcock demonstrated how the discourses of national security produced fantasies that brought the individual’s desire into alignment with the nation’s security interests” (In the Name, 16). Unlike The Thirty-Nine Steps, NNW does not initially feature a beautiful female spy luring the protagonist into the web of espionage. However, this figure will play a significant role later in the film. Reminiscent of Hannay in the film version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Thornhill will seek the aid of the glamorous Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) in the course of his adventures. Hitchcock adds a playful element of the spy’s flight from domestic life and female control, even though Thornhill is middle-aged and successful in business. As he flees from Kaplan’s hotel, pursued by the enemy spies, his mother’s last words (and the last we hear from her in the film) are “Roger, will you be home for dinner?”—which reminds us that Thornhill is still tied to his mother’s apron strings, though a senior executive.15 NNW is a prime example of how the risks and hardships that come with the status of accidental spy help to rejuvenate the jaded protagonist, instilling in him a new sense of purpose and an interest in serving the state. Of course, he himself benefits from this transformation, not least, in his relationship with a beautiful woman. However, his involvement in espionage itself brings little pleasure to Thornhill. In fact, whereas Hannay accepts the need to serve Britain’s national interests, Thornhill explicitly questions the value of patriotism. In a key scene, the Professor appeals to Thornhill’s sense of national duty, asking him to go on impersonating Kaplan for a while: Thornhill’s reply shows that his selfish interests have not been diminished by the espionage plot: “I’m an advertising man, not a red herring! I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders waiting or me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all and get myself killed by playing the man in the gray-flannel cloak-and-dagger. The answer is no!” (Lehman, 141). The only way that the Professor can persuade Thornhill to cooperate is by dangling the prospect of a relationship with Eve in front of him. This skillful coercion of Thornhill by the Professor is significant for another reason: it reveals that, having proved his survival skills, the accidental spy will be subject of attempted recruitment by official spy agencies. Perhaps he has become the victim of his own success: his ability to stay alive

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and thwart the enemy draws the attention of the secret service bureau. Yet the recruitment is a vital turning point, because afterwards the accidental spy is no longer free from official interference and control. In the case of Richard Hannay, the recruitment occurs not in The Thirty-Nine Steps but at the beginning of its sequel, Greenmantle (1916). Interestingly, Buchan prefaces this novel with a statement proclaiming his own amateurism as an author, noting “during the past year in the intervals of an active life, I have amused myself with constructing this tale. It has been scribbled in every kind of odd place and moment—in England and abroad, during long journeys, in half-hours between graver tasks; and it bears, I fear, the mark of its gipsy begetting” (Greenmantle, 3). While implying that he has more important matters at hand than writing spy fiction, Buchan avoids stating the fact that he was actually working as an Intelligence Officer during World War I. Contrasting the spy novel with the “graver tasks” of his professional life, Buchan neatly conceals the extent to which the “amusement” of spy fiction and actual intelligence work overlap. As Greenmantle opens, Hannay wishes for nothing more than to return to his battalion on the front of World War I. Yet Sir Walter Bullivant, the spymaster whom he worked with in The Thirty-Nine Steps, has other ideas. He is skillful in appealing to Hannay’s sense of patriotic duty: “I take it you are in this business to serve your country, Hannay?” (9). Bullivant refers to military service as “a great game, and you are the man for it” (10), echoing Kipling’s phrase for British intelligence at the height of empire. Yet in this case, by referring to military action as a “game,” Bullivant implies it is unworthy of Hannay’s powers: “How if there is a thing which you alone can do? … a thing compared to which your fight at Loos was a Sunday-school picnic … in this job you would not be fighting with an army around you, but alone. You are fond of tackling difficulties? Well, I can give you a task which will try all your powers” (10). The “thing” that Bullivant has in mind is intelligence work in the East—specifically, Turkey—where he must track down a new Islamic leader/prophet named Greenmantle. Acknowledging that it is a “crazy and impossible mission” (13), Bullivant advises Hannay that this new leader of an Islamic uprising against the West “is the card with which [the Germans] are going to astonish the world” (13). Bullivant has selected Hannay because “I believe that you have a nose for finding out what our enemies try to hide” (13–14). When Hannay agrees to the mission, he has in effect abandoned his role as amateur and entered the ranks of the professionals. Yet despite Bullivant’s attempt to inject a sense of duty and honor into the mission, Hannay seems unconvinced: “In about a fortnight, I calculated, I would be dead. Shot as a spy—a rotten sort of ending!” (18). In alluding to this “ending” Hannay refers both to his own death, and to the ending of the narrative, reflecting anxieties about the possibilities



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of satisfying closure in the emergent spy novel. As an editor’s note observes, “Far from being a glamorous profession, spying was regarded as faintly dishonourable for a gentleman, even during wartime” (Greenmantle, 277-8n18). I would only quibble with the word “faintly”—rather, spying was viewed as a disgraceful activity, lacking in manly valor. Greenmantle is notable not only for Hannay’s (reluctant) conversion to a professional spy, but because it features a cast of important secondary characters, or fellow agents. Unlike in The Thirty-Nine Steps, where Hannay worked alone against Black Stone, in Greenmantle he is part of a team that also includes Pieter Pienaar, John Blenkiron, and Sandy Arbuthnot. No longer a free agent, Hannay’s movements will be limited by his need to stay in touch with his colleagues. As part of his enhanced sociability, Hannay comes into closer contact with women, particularly the powerful female spy Hilda von Einem. Von Einem’s first appearance in the novel—in the fourteenth chapter “The Lady of the Mantilla”—is evocative of the mysterious, sensuous women in Oppenheim’s novels: Hannay narrates, “I found myself looking at the inside of a car upholstered in some soft dove-coloured fabric, and beautifully finished off in ivory and silver. The woman who sat in it had a mantilla of black lace over her head and shoulders, and with one slender jewelled hand she kept its fold over the greater part of her face” (Greenmantle, 169–70). Von Einem conveys the mysterious allure of and exotic femininity, making the surroundings of the car complement her elegance, yet Hannay has already been warned by Blenkiron, “That’s the most dangerous woman on earth” (163). If the requirement to work as part of a team represents a new challenge to the accidental spy, the fact that the enemy is a powerful woman tests Hannay’s composure far more than had Black Stone. Von Einem’s ease and assurance are in marked contrast to Hannay’s boyish awkwardness, and it is clear that Buchan has chosen to give his protagonist a new kind of challenge, involving sexual attraction. Hannay links Hilda’s femininity with luxury and sensuous experience, a context in which Hannay seems embarrassingly gauche and untutored.16 In a later scene, Hilda disrobes in front of Hannay, “slipping the long robe of fur from her slim body” (177) causing him consternation as she asks suggestively, “We are alone? … We will not be disturbed?” (177). The danger posed by von Einem is, most obviously, her threat to the mission of Hannay, Blenkiron, Sandy Arbuthnot, and Pienaar, who seek to disrupt the German plan of using an Islamic prophet—Greenmantle—to provoke anti-British uprising in the Middle East.17 In the presence of von Einem, Hannay struggles to remember the importance of the “Allied cause” (179). Rather, he spouts a reactionary discourse about the erosion of masculinity in modern times: “Men had forgotten their manhood in soft speech, and imagined that the rules of their smug civilization were the laws of the universe… . We had forgotten

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the greater virtues, and we were becoming emasculated humbugs whose gods were our own weaknesses” (179). Presenting, or embodying, the threat of emasculation, von Einem is a threat to Hannay’s very identity, in ways that evoke both a desire and a fear of his female counterpart: he notes, “She was sizing me up as a man. I cannot describe that calm appraising look. There was no sex in it, nothing even of that implicit sympathy with which one human being explores the existence of another” (171). The idea of the “sexless” foreign female spy, may anticipate the portrayal of the “neuter” Rosa Klebb in Fleming’s FRWL: “much of her success was due to the peculiar nature of her next most important instinct, the sex instinct. For Rosa Klebb undoubtedly belonged to the rarest of all sexual types. She was a neuter… . For her, sex was nothing more than an itch” (FRWL, 63). Yet von Einem’s case is actually different: owing more to the femme fatale of the Victorian sensation novel than to Mata Hari, Hilda is mesmerizingly beautiful and exercises a powerful fascination over men. Yet she is “infinitely removed from intimacy” (172) and it is this unattainability that stops Hannay in his tracks. Unused to the company of women, he has never entertained the possibility that he might desire one: “every man has in his bones a consciousness of sex,” he states, admitting: “I was horribly fascinated. This slim woman, poised exquisitely like some statue between the pillared lights, with her fair cloud of hair, her long delicate face, and her pale bright eyes, had the glamour of a wild dream” (172). The description has echoes of the account of the portrait of Lady Audley in Braddon’s novel, which similarly combines physical beauty with a strong sense of menace: “No one but a preRaphaelite would have painted, hair by hair, those feathery masses of ringlets with every glimmer of gold, and every shadow of pale brown. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have so exaggerated every attribute of that delicate face as to give a lurid lightness to the blonde complexion, and a strange sinister light to the deep blue eyes” (Braddon, 70). Like Lady Audley, with her “aspect of a beautiful fiend” (Braddon, 71), Hilda both attracts and unmans those who admire her.18 Hannay reveals his response to Hilda: “I hated her instinctively, hated her intensely, but I longed to arouse her interest. To be valued coldly by those eyes was an offence to my manhood, and I felt antagonism rising within me” (172). There is also a hint of supernatural influence, as “I began to realize that this woman was trying to cast some spell over me. The eyes grew large and luminous, and I was conscious for just an instant of some will battling to subject mine” (172). Inverting the Victorian gender hierarchy—still very much in place in the early twentieth-century spy novel—in which man is the dominant sex, and women the dependent one, Hilda’s power is directly linked to her sexuality. Unlike the male villain—whose power resides in a combination of physical force, economic riches, and intellectual supremacy—the female villain uses



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her mystical sexual power as her chief weapon to subdue her opponents. With his fascination for Hilda von Einem, Hannay enters a field more familiar to the heroes of E. Philips Oppenheim. As we have seen, Oppenheim’s accidental spies become engrossed in espionage due to fascination with a beautiful, mysterious woman. This becomes a key influence on the twentieth-century spy novel, as sexual power over men remains a key weapon of the female spy figure throughout the century. The accidental spy figure emerged during the build-up to World War I. However this type of spy found new life in the spy novels of the 1930s. Michael Denning has argued that a significant shift takes place in the spy thriller with the work of Graham Greene and Eric Ambler in the 1930s, writers who he claims sought to develop the “serious thriller” which was more realistic, attempted moral seriousness, and adopted a left-wing (anti-fascist) political perspective (Cover Stories, 61). Denning traces a change in the kind of amateur spy featuring in these novels, noting of Ambler’s typical protagonist, “He is an amateur spy, but not the sort of enthusiastic and willing amateur that Hannay is; rather he is an incompetent and inexperienced amateur in a world of professionals” (67). Implicitly, then, the amateurism of Ambler’s heroes has become a flaw and liability, rather than their chief asset. However, in Ambler’s novels the reader recognizes distinct echoes of the earlier accidental spies such as Davies, Carruthers, and Hannay. While updated to reflect the political and economic uncertainties of the interwar years, protagonists such as Kenton, Nicky Marlow, and Winston Graham are defined by dilemmas and characteristics that reflect their early twentieth-century precursors. The Dark Frontier—Ambler’s first novel—gives an original twist to the accidental spy theme, by parodying the earlier examples of the genre. The basic scenario anticipates Ambler’s later, darker novels: a brilliant physicist, Henry Barstow, is sought out by Simon Groom a representative of an armaments firm, to serve as a “technical aid” to his company and help them secure the secret of the atomic bomb (which in the novel has been developed by the scientist Kassen in the fictional nation of Ixonia). Professor Barstow vehemently rejects the proposal, yet then suffers a blackout in the hotel where he is lunching on his way to a holiday in Cornwall. It is in this somewhat stupefied state that Barstow notices a novel open on the table and begins reading. The story is a melodramatic spy novel, titled Conway Carruthers of Department Y, clearly belonging to the Buchan/Sapper/Oppenheim school of romantic spy fiction (and conspicuously borrowing the name of one of Childers’s protagonists from The Riddle of the Sands). In the brief excerpt quoted, Carruthers draws on various improbable skills and good fortune to foil an enemy agent pursuing him up a fire escape. Yet when the book is reclaimed by its owner, something happens to Barstow: he suddenly imagines himself to be Carruthers, and goes off in pursuit of Groom towards Zovgorod,

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the Ixanian capital, on the pretext that he has decided to accept the offer. Now checking into hotels under the name of Barstow, Carruthers is convinced that he must somehow intervene and prevent the armaments firm from gaining possession of atomic secrets. Barstow is an accidental spy, but the “accident” of his immersion in intrigue is produced by his chance act of reading a romantic spy thriller, rather than by the offer from Groom. Ambler’s use of the identity-switch illustrates Trotter’s argument that involvement in espionage proves rejuvenating for the amateur gentleman spy. But this renewal begins explicitly as a fantasy on Barstow’s part, based on his escapist reading: “If only Conway Carruthers were real. In the resource, the competence of that fantastic character, there was something curiously satisfying. Carruthers would have dealt with Kassen and his bomb. Carruthers would have handled Groom” (30). Carruthers functions as an idealized self for Barstow, who is struggling to handle the crisis of his situation: “Above all Carruthers would have known what he should do now” (30). In using the name of Childers’s hero, Ambler both gives a nod to the early spy thriller, while also satirizing the idealized fictionality of this romantic type of spy, able to “handle” every challenge without breaking a sweat. In becoming an alter ego for the timid Barstow, invokes a more assertive brand of masculinity: “But now it was the voice of Conway Carruthers, a stronger, more compelling voice that seemed to overwhelm the other” (32). Like Hannay, who crashes the car he steals in The Thirty-Nine Steps, Barstow has a car wreck, but from it he emerges as a new man, announcing “we are to save civilization” (33). For the remainder of the novel, Ambler strives (with mixed success) to create a double awareness in the reader: on the one hand, we participate vicariously in the adventures of Carruthers in his attempt to thwart the plot to create an atom bomb. On the other, we are aware that to others—such as Groom—the man remains Barstow the physics professor, whose function is to provide technical expertise. Ambler comments knowingly on the escapist function of spy fiction, allowing the “ordinary” person (i.e. the reader) to fantasize about a life of romantic adventure far removed from his (or her) mundane reality. The reader of Ambler’s own novel is of course implicated in this escapist impulse, for our pleasure in reading about Carruthers’s adventures in intrigue—even though we know them to be fantasy—requires a suspension of disbelief. The setting of the train (to Zovgorod) introduces the claustrophobic, sinister milieu that Ambler would perfect in later works (the Hotel Reserve in Epitaph, the steamship in Journey into Fear). The train locale also mirrors the 1930s films of Alfred Hitchcock (especially The Thirty-Nine Steps, The Lady Vanishes) as a setting for intriguing encounters and nefarious plots. During the final stage of Carruthers’s train journey, approaching Ixania at night, a man is murdered. In an instant, the luxury and romance of the train journey



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are transformed into a scene of horror: “There, sprawling half on the seat and half on the floor, was the body of a man with blood welling from a large wound on the forehead” (75). This man, Rovzidski, the Ixanian envoy to London, has been seen by Carruthers in the company of Groom. His death, then, seems connected to the plan to obtain the Kassen bomb secret. The murder brings a chilling sense of reality to the romantic spy adventure. Even the dauntless Carruthers, we are told, “for the first time … felt afraid” (78). A somewhat confusing shift in perspective occurs in the middle of the novel, when the third-person narrator is replaced by Casey, the American journalist for the New York Tribune. Ambler perhaps adopts this change of narrative voice to reflect the limitations of Carruthers’s/Barstow’s knowledge of events. However, it somewhat diminishes the role of the “accidental spy” as the central focus of the novel and proves disruptive for the reader. In the second half Carruthers is one of many actors in the plot surrounding the Kassen bomb secret, rather than its central protagonist. As Casey states of Carruthers, “It was only in moments of crisis that he became an individual. At such moments he was immense” (120). By switching narrators Ambler also risks confusing the reader who is already having to absorb the dual personalities of Barstow/Carruthers. However, the use of Casey reminds us of the vital role of the news and journalists in international politics of the interwar years. While Casey himself cannot be considered an “accidental spy,” he has become involved with something more complex and dangerous than he realized. Sent by his newspaper “to write a series about the Balkan powder keg” (110), Casey’s investigations lead him to the same secret factory as Carruthers, and cause him to be shot at. He reflects on the improbability of his story: “Atomic bombs! Secret papers! Secret agents—the blush deepened until I was glowing with self-contempt” (126). A key background of the accidental spy story is the incompetence of the government and failure of official authorities to deal with the threats to international security. Like Riddle of the Sands and The Thirty-Nine Steps, The Dark Frontier is based on the assumption that the courageous and ingenious amateur is needed to rectify the shortcomings of those vested with the authority of the state. When Casey proposes that he and Carruthers inform their respective legations about the Kassen secret, for example, Carruthers points out that it is unlikely the ministers would believe them. He also argues that if their story were believed, the result would be to put Ixanian plotters on their guard and lead to other countries attempting to gain the secret atomic weapon for themselves (139–40). Hence it emerges that the only men capable of thwarting the Countess, Kassen, and Groom, is the accidental spy and his newsman ally. As in earlier examples of this type of spy story, the villains are at once unmistakably foreign and marked by a specific physical signature. Perhaps the most sinister villain is Colonel Marrassin, the Countess’s aide-de-camp.

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Anticipating the no less sinister Captain Mailler from Background to Danger—their military titles are a less a sign of courage for Ambler than of fascistic tendencies—Marrassin’s visage is recognizable by the “two deep dueling scars” above his right eye (162). When Carruthers is banished from Ixania by the Countess, he immediately realized that the actual intention is for Marrassin to kill him on the train—the fate that had befallen Rovzidski. Marrassin was also behind the brutal assassination of Andrassin—the leader of the Young Peasants rebel party—and Carruthers recognizes the man cannot be trusted. Yet henchmen such as Marrassin are the instruments of a larger evil in Ambler’s fiction. The true villains in Ambler’s world are either capitalists or anti-democratic leaders and militia, the embodiments of a corrupt state power. Allied against this power elite are the gifted amateurs and their assistants—men such as Casey and Zaleshoff (who features in two subsequent novels). Carruthers is an exaggerated version of Hannay, possessing the right equipment and skills for every emergency: he is able to pick a lock using a hotel’s fork, and succeeds in entering a room in the Hotel Europa by stealing the master key (183). In Carruthers’s company, Casey himself emboldened to action, noting “the transition from newspaper man to desperado is a more arduous process than some people would have you believe” (183). The duality of Barstow/Carruthers is mirrored in the dual structure of the novel itself: the first part, “The Man Who Changed His Mind,” narrates the story in the third person up to the point where Carruthers encounters Casey also spying on the secret Kassen laboratory near Zovgorod. At that point, Casey takes over the story and makes clear his lack of interest in Carruthers’s more mundane prior identity: “Carruthers I shall call him. Whoever he was before he came to Zovgorod, whoever he is now, has no bearing upon my picture of him. It is as Carruthers that I think of him” (119). Yet Casey’s reference to Carruthers’s “strange patchwork of a personality” (120) suggests his recognition, perhaps unconscious, of the protagonist’s fragmented identity.19 The cause of this fragmentation is not fully explored in Ambler’s novel. The transformation of Barstow into Carruthers is somewhat mysterious, as a sudden “terrible numbness enveloped his brain, a numbness that shut out everything but the thudding of his heart” (23) as Groom leaves. It is possible that Groom has drugged Barstow’s liqueur or coffee, in the hopes of coercing him to accept the position of his technical advisor. The catalyst for the specific transformation to Carruthers is, of course, the novel he begins to read in the Launceton hotel. The point of his return to the persona of Barstow is more clearcut, the result of a blow to the head, when he is attacked on the Bâle-Paris express train (246). Yet none of these events satisfactorily explains Barstow’s need to become Carruthers. Michael Denning has linked the imaginary metamorphosis to



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Barstow’s involvement in the armaments industry: noting the central importance of the English armaments firm, Cator & Bliss, to several of Ambler’s novels, Denning explores “the dilemma that Barstow was able to repress only by magically transforming himself into a storybook hero, the recognition of one’s own complicity, the recognition that the professors, engineers, and commercial travellers that populate the Ambler world are themselves hired guns” (74). Barstow, as a physicist, is thus not an “innocent” but an essential component of the military-industrial complex. My reading of Barstow’s transformation is somewhat different from Denning’s, however: I read it as Ambler’s self-reflexive acknowledgement, in his first novel, of the escapist allure of espionage literature, allowing the modern subject to vicariously participate in adventures that transport him or her out of the tedious routine into a more exciting and exotic world. It is perhaps the reader’s complicity with the forces of capitalism that Ambler points a finger at. Denning’s reading overlooks that Barstow (as himself) rejects Groom’s offer of a lucrative position with the armaments firm, in doing so he explicitly refuses to serve the interests of “the shareholders of Messrs Cator & Bliss” (22). It is only as Carruthers that he becomes involved in the Kassen secret, and his motives in doing so are not mercenary but rather “to save civilization” (33). The transformation is thus an extreme version of the immersion of the reader in the fantasy world of espionage fiction. It is Ambler’s most tongue-in-cheek admission that the accidental spy is actually a surrogate for the reader. Another variation of the accidental spy in Ambler’s work can be found in his 1937 novel Background to Danger. The protagonist of this novel, Desmond Kenton, is not an engineer but a journalist by profession who becomes embroiled in an international intrigue due to his gambling habit. Having lost all his money at cards in Nuremberg, Kenton takes flight for Vienna where he hopes to borrow money from an old friend. On the train however he encounters a stranger, Herr Sachs, who offers to pay him if he will carry an envelope of securities across the border into Austria. Kenton agrees, needing the money, but is surprised when Sachs then offers him additional payment if he will deliver the securities to his room at the Hotel Josef in Linz. Kenton again agrees but when he arrives at the hotel, he finds that Sachs has been murdered in his room: echoing the death of Scudder in The Thirty-Nine Steps, “the hands were clasped tightly on the handle of the knife that had been driven hard into the right side just below the rib case” (46). Kenton holds on to the envelope, realizing that it is more important than Sachs had led him to believe. In fact Kenton has stumbled into a European conspiracy involving the Pan-Eurasian Oil Company (PEOC), an organization seeking the renegotiation of oil concessions in Rumania, allowing it to claim the lion’s share of trade with Italy. Kenton eventually realizes that the envelope contains secret photographs that, if disclosed, would be used to

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support a planned fascist coup in Rumania and so advance the proposed concession revision. Thus the PEOC is supportive of fascism because it serves its economic interests. Kenton is therefore pursued by Stefan Saridza—introduced in the novel’s Prologue under his alias “Colonel Robinson,”—who has been hired by the Pan American Co for his propaganda skills: that is, to make sure the oil concessions are revised in PEOC’s favor. Captured by Saridza and his sinister henchman Captain Mailler, Kenton is tortured but refuses to disclose the whereabouts of the photographs. In desperate straits, Kenton forms an alliance with Andreas Zaleshoff—a Soviet spy who wants to obtain the photographs from the traitor Sachs—and his attractive sister Tamara. The man Kenton knew as Sachs is actually Borovansky, a Soviet agent who “has turned traitor” (27) and absconded with vital photographs of B2 mobilization units (as Zaleshoff notes, “someone wanted the B2 stuff and Borovansky is being paid to get it” (29). Having sent a Spaniard, Ortega, to obtain the photographs, Zaleshoff is horrified to learn that his agent has killed the traitor while failing to recapture the photographs. Zaleshoff is an ambivalent figure: Kenton sometimes groups him with Saridza and Mailler as among the most sinister people he knows, and yet it is Zaleshoff who helps Kenton escape his captors and eventually return to his normal life. Michael Denning argues “In a formal sense Zaleshoff serves as what Vladimir Propp … called a ‘donor’, that crucial function that gives the hero the means to accomplish its goal or win its contest” (Cover, 88). Yet he becomes—like Alan Breck in Stevenson’s Kidnapped—actually a rival protagonist of the narrative. In a later novel, Cause for Alarm, this role of Zaleshoff as dual protagonist will be enhanced. While Kenton doesn’t entirely trust Zaleshoff, he depends upon him for his survival and the two men form an effective team against the enemy. A key figure in their alliance is Tamara: Kenton first sees her after he has fled the hotel in Vienna, where Borovansky has been killed: she flashes a torch at him in the alleyway, mistaking him for her brother (56) and Kenton is attracted by the brief glimpse he has of her. The two are later thrown together and there are romantic possibilities between them that differentiate this novel from the Buchanesque masculine spy story. The Zaleshoffs in certain respects anticipate the Hilfes—Austrian brother and sister from Greene’s The Ministry of Fear—as sibling spies of dubious morality and uncertain political allegiance. Yet where the Hilfes are allied with the villains, Ambler’s sibling couple is ultimately on the side of the protagonist. Kenton fits the model of the accidental spy as an innocent abroad who unwittingly stumbles into espionage and is pursued for a murder—that of Borovanksy, the traitor—that he didn’t commit. Although he has a background as a journalist—giving him a level of worldly and political knowledge



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lacking in other Ambler protagonists—he is completely unprepared for the twists and turns of the espionage plot. One might view his gambling habit as a character flaw, but it is more of a peccadillo than a serious moral failing or cause for guilt, such as Rowe’s killing of his wife in The Ministry of Fear or McKenna’s refusal to cooperate with the police in Man Who Knew Too Much. Kenton’s naiveté is apparent in his willingness to carry the package across the border—without knowing either the true contents or anything about the man who recruits him. Conversely, Kenton also displays the survival skills and resourcefulness of the accidental spy—notably when he escapes from the Hotel Josef where Borovanksy was murdered, and again when he escapes from Mailler’s torture chamber. His survival is down to luck as much as any background knowledge or skills. His escape from Mailler is due to Zaleshoff’s timely intervention (102). Like Hitchcock’s Hannay (though not Buchan’s), Kenton also benefits from the assistance of women (Tamara and also another woman who befriends him). He also receives help from strangers—such as the commercial traveler he meets on the bus into the mountains. Kenton at first thinks this man knows nothing of him, but during one of their private excursions—away from the main group—the traveler reveals his knowledge of Kenton’s fugitive status. Rather than turn him in, the traveler helps him to escape, because of their shared Britishness and his dislike of the continent. Joseph Vadassy, the protagonist of Epitaph for a Spy (1936) is one of the chief exemplars of this more cynical version of the accidental spy. Ambler’s spy novels certainly have their share of Hitchcockian twists, often featuring an unwary protagonist who stumbles accidentally into a world of international intrigue. Yet while Hitchcock creates a romantic adventure plot from these materials, Ambler’s world is lacking in the turns of good fortune and benign assistants that Hitchcock’s spy heroes usually enjoy.20 Unlike Richard Hannay, who is independently wealthy, Vadassy is a poorly paid schoolteacher from Paris who is enjoying a rare holiday on the French Riviera. Where Hannay is a colonial immigrant who comes to identify as British, Vadassy’s nationality is still more ambiguous: he is, in fact, a stateless person, living in Paris on an insecure basis, while travelling on a forged Rumanian passport. Vadassy’s involvement in espionage begins, like Thornhill’s, due to a case of mistaken identity. Having dropped off a film from his camera at the chemist near his Hotel de la Réserve, he is arrested by the police when he returns to pick it up, due to the fact that the developed films include photographs of sensitive military installations and fortifications on the French coast. A keen amateur photographer, Vadassy pleads his innocence of having taken these pictures, but cannot explain how they came to be in his camera. Ambler’s plot is in some ways a combination of Hitchcock and Kafka—we are reminded of the arrest of Joseph K. at the beginning of The Trial, and his futile efforts to discover the charges against him or prove his innocence.

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In another Hitchcockian twist, Vadassy discovers that his own Contax camera has been exchanged for another identical one, containing the illicit film. Under the instruction of Beghin, the French agent who had arrested him, Vadassy realizes he has “to inspect my fellow guests one at a time” (45) and so makes a list of the guests at the Hotel de la Réserve, and their respective cameras, concluding: “One of twelve persons had my camera. I had an identical camera belonging to that same one person. Beghin had pointed out that when and if that person discovered the loss of his or her photographs, he or she would be anxious to recover them” (73). Vadassy summarizes his involvement in espionage succinctly: One of those … was a spy. One of them had been paid to make his or her way secretly into military zones, to take photographs of reinforced concrete and guns so that some day warships out at sea might safely and accurately fire shells to smash to pieces the concrete and the guns and the men who served them. And I had two days in which to identify that person (38).

As with Buchan’s Hannay, Ambler’s use of the first-person narrator serves to involve the reader more intimately in Vadassy’s dilemma, as he leaves his “new” camera—the one exchanged by the spy—in a public place, and waits to spot who tries to switch them back. Vadassy shares some of Hannay’s sense of urgency in his mission—noting the deadline of “two days”—however its object is primarily to save his own skin rather than assist France’s national security. Whereas Hannay is blessed with good luck, Vadassy is plagued by mishaps, as when he finds he has been locked in the room where he planned to spy on the spy, and when he finally escapes finds that the camera he planted has gone missing. This notion of the accidental spy being caught in his own trap is particularly typical of Ambler’s work, in that the harder the spy tries to escape his dilemma the more deeply he becomes embedded in the snare. In some respects the scenario resembles a detective story or “whodunit” as much as a spy story, again demonstrating the influential role of Doyle on the evolution of the spy novel. The limited scope and setting of the action, and restricted cast of characters, raise questions about the identities and integrity of the central characters. More importantly, they contribute to the atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia with which Ambler infuses his espionage novels. Ambler places his accidental spy in a highly confined situation, in which his freedom has already been lost. Sacrificing the sense of adventure and wideopen spaces deployed by Buchan and Hitchcock, Ambler instead gains a brooding atmosphere of paranoia in which suspicion is the standard mode, and from which there is no escape. The best Vadassy can hope for, in Epitaph for a Spy, is a return to his previous unromantic existence as an underpaid



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schoolteacher and precarious national identity. The kind of regeneration outlined by Trotter, as necessary for the accidental spy to become more morally and politically aware, is not possible in Ambler’s world of espionage. There is no prospect of a romantic epiphany, nor any sense that he is sacrificing personal security for the sake of national interests. The accidental spy in Ambler’s world remains “the Wrong Man,” whose life is permanently marred by the misfortune of being implicated in espionage. There are moreover some striking parallels between Vadassy and Kenton in Background to Danger. Both men run into trouble at a hotel in Europe, due to their naiveté in falling into a trap. Both men become implicated in espionage due to their possession of incriminating photographs of military areas, and both came into this possession accidentally. Both men are accused by the authorities of a crime they didn’t commit (espionage in Vadassy’s case, murder in Kenton’s). Both men are trying to prove their innocence under extreme pressure of time and both also have a complex national status. Vadassy is already compromised due to his forged papers, and he lacks a stable national identity. Kenton “looked more like an American than an Englishman and was actually neither. His father had come from Belfast, his mother from a Breton family living in Lille” (Background, 13–14). This mixed heritage places Kenton outside the English identity of later protagonists such as Graham and Marlow. An important difference between Vadassy and Kenton, however, is that the former is confined to a limited space—the Hotel Réserve on the Riviera—and he must identify the actual spy from a fixed group of hotel guests. Kenton by contrast has greater freedom of movement, illustrated by his journey from Nuremberg to Austria, and has the ability to speak a foreign language correctly (14). However, the Pan-Eurasian Oil Co has its base in London, thus demonstrating that Britain—while officially opposed to Fascism—is in fact harboring fascists within the capitalist system (as PEOC seeks to use the fascist coup in Romania to advance its own interests). Kenton is treated as British by Saridza, and described by Zaleshoff as an English reporter (135).21 Perhaps the most significant distinction between Vadassy and Kenton, however, is Vadassy’s isolation as opposed to Kenton’s assistance from others. Vadassy seems alienated from the other guests and to suffer from a paranoia—perhaps justified—about their motives. He trusts nobody, and is therefore unable to form an alliance. Kenton, despite being betrayed by Borovansky, does not lose his ability to trust. Hence he can forge an alliance with the Zaleshoffs. The key role of PEOC in Background to Danger highlights another key to Ambler’s world of espionage: that it directly implicates banks and large corporations in the international intrigue. If the protagonists of his novels are accidental spies—innocent men wrongly implicated in crimes and plots—his villains are usually capitalists or those willing to exploit the unstable political situation to advance their own interests. Michael Denning argues, concerning

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the role of the company Cator & Bliss in Ambler’s novels: “if one were to look at the moments when capitalism has become figurable and at the shapes that it has assumed, the figure of the armaments manufacturer in the 1930s emerges as one of the clearest and most intense” (Cover Stories, 74). The use of the capitalist businessman testifies, for Denning, to “the thriller’s formal requirement of a convincing and unified villain” (74). Yet equally, Ambler foregrounds the economic necessity of the protagonist, that may lead him into the web of international intrigue. Like Kenton, Nicky Marlow—the protagonist of Cause for Alarm (1938)—becomes involved in espionage due to economic desperation. Marlow is fired from his job as an engineer and, despite his excellent qualifications, finds himself unable to obtain another post. Marlow—who also narrates the story—links his adventures to his financial need from the very opening, where he states: “One thing is certain. I would not have even considered the job if I had not been desperate” (Cause, 7). The “job” in question is with Spartacus Machine tools company, a firm based in Wolverhampton but the position he accepts is in Italy. Marlow links his own need for a job to the wider economic climate and widespread unemployment: “‘Trade recession’ they called it in the newspapers. As far as I could see there wasn’t a great deal of difference between a trade recession and a good old-fashioned slump” (9). This point is important, because it makes Marlow a representative figure, a victim of economic conditions that are also affecting many others. As such, he is an “everyman” of a different stripe to Hannay, who had his own “pile” acquired in South Africa. If Hannay represents the prosperous gentlemanamateur, Marlow embodies the everyman of the interwar years and nothing could be more unexceptional in the 1930s than being made redundant. It is ultimately through this need for a job that Marlow becomes involved in espionage. He learns from Zaleshoff—the American-born Soviet agent who also featured in Background to Danger—that his predecessor in the Spartacus job, Ferning, did not die accidentally but was deliberately run over by agents of Ovra, the Italian Secret Police. Ferning had been recruited by the sinister Colonel Vagas—a German secret agent—to spy on the Italian armament firms whom he provided with shell manufacturing machines. Even though Germany and Italy are allies—since the Rome-Berlin Axis agreement—neither nation fully trusts the other. Marlow, like his predecessor, is also approached by Vagas and offered money to provide information about the armaments firms. Although he intends to refuse, Zaleshoff convinces him to go along with Vagas’s request so that Zaleshoff can drive a wedge between Italy and Germany. Two significant points emerge about Marlow’s involvement in espionage. Firstly, he is technically a double agent, for he is receiving money from Vagas for the industrial and military information he provides, while actually serving



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the interests of Zaleshoff. Secondly, Marlow’s involvement is accidental in the sense that it is only through his normal profession—an engineer—that he happens to be necessary to the scheme to sow dissension between the Axis powers. Zaleshoff uses the analogy of a bunch of keys, only one of which can fit the lock: “There’s just one key that fits… . And you’re the key” (164). As Zaleshoff elaborates, “For some crack-brained reason you, Marlow, are in a position to turn their suspicions into downright distrust.” (164). This “crackbrained reason” is the accident that makes Marlow necessary as a spy. In a revealing passage, Marlow reveals his bewilderment on stumbling into an unfamiliar world: “It all seemed unreal, part of another world, it did not touch your own everyday life at any point. Yet this world of spies and counter-spies did exist. Spies had to live somewhere. They had their work to do like anyone else” (97). The sense of alienation from his “everyday life” at first proves exciting, but Marlow soon realizes he is out of his depth. Expanding on this point, Ambler’s accidental spy has—as the title of one of the chapters in Cause for Alarm states—“No choice” in the matter of whether to become a spy. He is, in effect, trapped in an espionage plot that threatens not just his prosperity but his very life. This compulsory aspect of espionage is apparent in a conversation between Marlow and Vagas, in which Vagas attempts to gain more information than they initially agreed. In order to justify the extra payments, Vagas demands that Marlow include not just Spartacus’s information but that of the factories he visits on business (183). Marlow objects, “But that … would make me a spy” (184), to which Vargas replies contemptuously: “My dear Mr Marlow … you already are a spy” (184). This idea of having become a spy without realizing it, and having been implicated in intrigue against his conscious intention, is an apt expression of the situation of Ambler’s protagonists. The use of Zaleshoff as a key character in two of Ambler’s interwar novels is itself significant. Zaleshoff embodies the ambiguity of the modern agent in Ambler’s fiction. He has a professional cover—in this case a shell company whose offices are located on the floor below Spartacus’s—as well as a domestic cover in his sister Tamara. The two siblings work together, most notably in Cause for Alarm when Tamara provides the necessary distraction at the Fascist procession in Milan, allowing Marlow to escape his followers (172). Yet Zaleshoff’s allegiances are unclear. He refers to himself as American, yet Vagas has informed Marlow that Zaleshoff is a Soviet agent. When Marlow confronts him with this charge, “His jaw dropped. Then he looked at the girl. Her expression was utterly non-committal. He looked back at me again” (165). Zaleshoff’s reaction neither confirms nor denies Marlow’s suspicion that he is a Soviet spy, although Zaleshoff’s appearance as a Soviet spy in Background to Danger renders his role less ambiguous. Marlow does not feel any particular allegiance to or animosity to a specific nation.

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When he considers the implications of working for Vagas (a German agent) versus helping Zaleshoff (whom he assumes is a Soviet spy), Marlow states “I had no particular feelings about either of their countries. I knew neither of them” (213). Marlow is fighting for his own survival, not for any political or national cause. Ultimately Marlow will become a key example of the hunted man that figures in many of the accidental spy narratives. Marlow is intercepted at Milan station—having returned from a business trip to Rome—by Zaleshoff who warns him that he is wanted by the police. While the official charge Marlow faces is bribing Government officials (193), Zaleshoff advises him that he will actually be charged with espionage and that his own (British) consulate will not assist a spy (204). Now pursued by the police as well as Ovra, Marlow has no choice but to entrust his fate to the enigmatic Zaleshoff, who convinces Marlow to remain on the train, rather than disembark at Milan where he would be arrested. Zaleshoff’s reminder to him—“Without me to help you, you’ll be sunk” (209)—emphasizes that whereas Hannay is selfreliant, Marlow does depend on someone else for his survival. When they are on the run, walking towards the Yugoslavian border, it is Zaleshoff who takes precautions to disguise Marlow: “That hat of yours is very natty but it shrieks English to high Heaven. There’s nothing like a new hat for making you look different” (217). Zaleshoff also represents the “superior powers of endurance” (222) that Marlow lacks. The severest challenge confronted by Marlow is not an individual villain— by the end of the novel in fact Vagas seems somewhat innocuous—but the harsh adversities of the climate and landscape. The culminating chapters of Cause for Alarm, in which Zaleshoff and Marlow—whose pictures have both been printed in the newspapers—attempt to reach the Italo-Yugoslav border, returns the accidental spy novel to the physical feats of Carruthers and Davies and Richard Hannay. In a direct echo of the scene in The Thirty-Nine Steps where Hannay hides on the roof of an outbuilding at the lair of the Bald Archeologist, Marlow and Zaleshoff take refuge on the top of a wagon at an Italian train depot, trying to evade the police. Their relationship recalls an earlier pair of fugitives, David Balfour and Alan Breck in Stevenson’s Kidnapped, in which the latter helps the former survive the trials of a “flight across the heather.” Just as David and Alan quarrel—after which Alan confesses he likes David more than before—Zaleshoff and Marlow insult each other to let off steam. Yet in a telling admission, Marlow states that in hindsight he realizes Zaleshoff’s superiority “was not physical … but moral” (222). Zaleshoff, ironically, emerges as the hero of the narrative. The refrain of the latter half of the novel—“you could not help liking Zaleshoff” (278) identifies him as the key figure, more than a “donor” (as Denning, following Todorov, calls him) but a co-protagonist. Besides his ingenious use of



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disguise to conceal their identities from the police, Zaleshoff has moments of brilliance and originality as a spy, which the reader only understands at the same time as Marlow. One notable example occurs at the train depot when the two are held captive by two workers. Marlow notices his companion humming a tune, then dramatically the lights go out, Zaleshoff attacks one of the men, and the two fugitives escape. Only later does Marlow learn that Zaleshoff recruited the assistance of one of the workers by identifying him as a Communist: “Once a Communist always a Communist. I started humming the ‘Bandiero Rossa’—that’s an old Italian workers’ song” (245). His knowledge and powers of observation—he identified the Communist by a scar on his arm where there had once been a hammer and sickle tattoo (245)—are essential to saving both men from capture and imprisonment or even death. After surviving a harrowing trek through the snow-clad mountains, the pair eventually reaches Belgrade where Marlow has a final meeting with Vagas. By now—equipped by Zaleshoff with the necessary information—Marlow has the upper hand, and provides Vagas with the “information” that will cause a breach of trust between Germany and Italy. In an act of cunning Marlow learns that Vagas immediately receives a call from Berlin, confirming his status as a German agent (277). The effects of this breach are recorded in the concluding extract from an article in a French periodical notes “the unexpected coolness which has developed lately between two partners of the Axis. The cause is understood to be of a military nature and to concern the Brenner Pass” (284). With this extract, we learn that Marlow has accomplished his mission as an accidental spy, though without Zaleshoff he would probably have died in Italy, at the hands of Ovra or as a victim of the harsh environment. Yet Ambler refuses to separate his protagonist from the complicity between the armaments industry and the warring nations. Following his return to Britain, Marlow does not sever his ties with the armaments industry: on the contrary, he strengthens those ties by accepting a position as production engineer at Cator & Bliss (280)—the armaments firm that represents the dubious ethics of industrial capitalism in several Ambler novels. In an added twist of irony, Marlow learns that Spartacus, his former employer, is now providing the S2 shell machines to Cator & Bliss (281). Marlow thus remains thoroughly embedded in the war industry, one of the “hired guns” (Denning 74) that provide the antagonists with their machines of destruction. Ambler uses a spokesman for this critique of capitalism in 1940s Journey into Fear (1940), though this character is not the protagonist. The accidental spy in this novel, Winston Graham, is no less deeply implicated in the war than Marlow, due to his work as an armaments engineer. As a result of this work—that will provide Turkey with advanced guns in the buildup to war— Graham finds himself under threat. At the beginning of the novel, Graham is portrayed as the happily married everyman who “was considered lucky.

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He had a highly paid job with a big armaments manufacturing concern, a pleasant house in the country an hour’s drive from his office, and a wife whom everyone liked” (5). However, the novel traces the disintegration of Graham’s apparently secure world under the implacable forces of international politics. Having attended a conference, he is shot and wounded in his hotel room in Istanbul, and is prevented from returning home to England by train by Colonel Haki (who also appeared in Coffin for Dimitrios). Haki makes explicit the fact that someone is attempting to assassinate Graham (52) and insists that Graham leaves Istanbul by boat—aboard the Sestri Levante—where he renews his acquaintance with an attractive dancer, Josette, whom he met at an Istanbul club. While he has taken the steamer on the assumption that it would be safer than traveling by train, Graham is horrified to discover that the man who he believes shot him in Istanbul—a Roumanian assassin called Banat— has boarded the steamer under a false name and is apparently awaiting the opportunity to kill Graham. Viewing his work as simply a professional matter, Graham is confounded by the realization that to others he is a profound political threat. Key to the accidental spy genre is the transformation of the protagonist from a soft, comfortable middle-class citizen to a survivor who taps into primitive instincts and becomes capable of violence. In a significant passage, Ambler narrates this change in Graham: “The things of which she [his wife] was a part, his house, his friends, had ceased to exist. He was a man alone, transported into a strange land with death for its frontiers” (160). The loss of his revolver is a serious blow to his chances of survival, his reaction amplifying the change in his character: “Without a revolver a man was as defenceless as a tethered goat in a jungle” (160). As the context to Graham’s life-or-death struggle, Ambler’s narrative contains discourse on the big business interests that promote and benefit from international conflict and prolonged war. His spokesman is the Frenchman Mathis—another passenger on the steamship—who perceives an international conspiracy of bankers behind the crisis: “The international bankers are the real war criminals. Others do the killing but they sit, calm and collected, in their offices and make money” (171). As embodied in Mathis, this assertion of financial conspiracy is somewhat simplistic, yet its inclusion offers a counterpoint to the idealized view of war as a defense of freedom. Graham resists the polarized thinking of good vs evil arising from war, symbolized by his acceptance of the German Haller as a companion at his dinner table, despite rumors that he is a spy. Yet when he returns to his cabin to find Haller there with a pistol, it seems that the stereotype of the duplicitous German spy is confirmed. In fact, Graham learns at this point that Haller is an imposter: the apparently elderly bore at the dinner table is actually Moeller, the enemy German agent who was behind his attempted assassination in Istanbul. The transformation of the seemingly harmless if tedious archeologist into the dangerous German agent is brilliantly handled by Ambler, echoing



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Hannay’s discovery in The Thirty-Nine Steps that the “Bald Archeologist” is actually the head of Black Stone. Moeller offers Graham a dishonorable alternative to being killed on landing at Genoa: that of feigning sickness from typhus so that he can seek treatment at a clinic and be kept safely out of the way until the armaments plans have been sufficiently delayed. Graham realizes that to accept the offer would be to commit treason—by sabotaging the Turkish armament plan and so furthering Germany’s war effort (201–2). He is advised by the Turkish agent, Kuvetli—whom he had failed to identify before Moeller revealed it—that the “alternative” is in probably a hoax: Kuvetli suggests “his intention is to kill you in any case and … he wishes to do so with as little trouble as possible.” (212). Graham’s failure to consider this possibility is symptomatic of his amateur status, as the implausibility of the “typhus” idea strikes Kuvetli (the professional) at once. Graham’s status as accidental spy is emphasized in a passage of his own reflections: “It was incredible that this should be happening to him. Impossible! Perhaps, after all, he had been badly wounded in Istanbul and it was all a fantasy born of anaesthesia” (196). As he considers the proposal of Moeller, Graham thinks “He was an engineer, not a professional secret agent. Presumably a secret agent would have been equal to dealing with men like Moeller and Banat. He, Graham, was not… . His business was to stay alive” (201). There could be no clearer expression of the predicament of the amateur in a world of professionals. The confined space of the steamer recalls the claustrophobia of the Hotel Réserve in Epitaph for a Spy. Yet Graham’s vulnerability is even more disturbing, in proportion as his social status and economic prosperity appeared more secure, than Vadassy’s. Ambler shows that even the most comfortable of Britons may become embroiled in intrigue and find their life at risk. Towards the end of the novel—when the escape plan by Kuvetli the Turkish agent, leads Graham to believe he will survive to return home—he experiences something like regret at the end of his adventure: “Now he was on his way back to his own world; to his house and his car and the friendly, agreeable woman he called his wife. It would be exactly the same as when he had left it” (238). Yet these reflections prove quite premature: soon afterwards he finds Kuvetli dead in his cabin, having been assassinated by Banat. In fact it is at this point that the skills of the accidental spy are most thoroughly tested for, without Kuvetli’s aid, Graham has to rely on his own instincts for survival. Securing help and a revolver from Mathis, Graham goes with Moeller and Banat, before realizing that they are not going to Santa Margherita and that his hopes of using a distraction to escape the car are futile. Reflecting that “he had taken too much for granted” (258), Graham instead relies on his survival instincts: or rather, exploits a primitive rage against his captors: “a sudden blind fury seized him. His self-control, racked out until every nerve in his body was quivering, suddenly went” (261). Graham shoots Banat in the face, escapes the car and then—again acting on instinct—shoots the gas tank of

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the enemies’ car, causing an explosion that saves his life. The implication of Ambler’s climax is that only when the “civilized” man—the ordinary, accidental spy—can tap into his primitive urge for violence, can he overcome his adversaries. Throughout his adventure Graham has been confronted by “the ape beneath the velvet” (238)—the essential primitiveness of man, the superficiality of civilized behavior—until he finds that “ape” lurking within himself. The discovery that Josette—the attractive dancer with whom he had become infatuated on the steam boat and who had invited him to share a romantic tryst in Paris—is actually a prostitute who is managed by her “partner,” José— completes Graham’s disillusionment. It is ultimately this loss of illusions that prepares Graham for the return to his normal life, signified by the humdrum meal of “beer and sandwiches” (275) awaiting him in his train compartment. Ambler’s accidental spies thus retain the possibility of a return to “normal life” after their adventures have ended. While the protagonists may have undergone change through their exposure to conspiracy, danger, and death, Ambler allows us no illusions that the wider political and economic corruption has been altered. Lacking the patriotism and heroism of the protagonists of Childers and Buchan, Ambler’s accidental spy is a pivotal figure in the introduction of political realism to the atmosphere of fictional espionage. The accidental spy was born in a period when Britain’s imperial supremacy was under threat (especially from Germany), and where the appeal to public vigilance to detect enemy spies “within” was felt to be essential. However, this type of spy also flourished in a later era of political uncertainty and moral ambiguity, allowing writers such as Ambler to use espionage fiction as a means to explore the dubious ethics of the military-industrial complex and challenge the polarizing of the international conflict into good and evil. Inevitably, the relevance and popularity of the accidental spy receded somewhat with the rise of the professional spy in fiction, especially Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer, and John le Carré’s George Smiley. These professional agents and their political significance will be the subject of a later chapter. However, in concluding this chapter, it seems important to observe that the accidental spy has not disappeared from the landscape of espionage fiction.22 NOTES 1. Bond, in particular, resents the bureaucratic tedium of being a secret agent between missions: he is described in From Russia with Love (FRWL) as suffering from committee work. The early amateur spy is free from such salaried boredom. 2. I broadly agree with this definition, although my approach to the accidental spy is more inclusive than Trotter’s and includes key figures—such as Doyle’s Holmes— who in some cases are actuated by mercenary motives.



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3. Carruthers will again brings up this idea of play in the context of espionage when he is on Memmert: preparing to spy on the Germans in their building, he remarks “‘Play the game,’ I said to myself. ‘Nobody expects you; nobody will recognize you’” (Riddle, 188). 4. Even Kipling’s Kim, the eponymous hero of his 1901 novel may be considered an accidental spy who becomes involved through a chance encounter. He is playing games, sitting on top of the gun Zam-Zammah in Lahore, when he has a random meeting with a lama, or holy man. Kim, we learn, has been involved in ‘intrigue’ of a more personal nature, being a kind of courier of secret messages, and we are told that he “loved … the game for its own sake” (Kim, 51). This description of intrigue and espionage as a “game,” is another hallmark of the “accidental spy” novel. 5. Curiously, the father of the most famous novelist of all, Ian Fleming, was also called Valentine. Valentine Fleming was killed in action in World War I, when Ian was nine years old, and Winston Churchill wrote his obituary. 6. The assumption that the traitor within the establishment must be a lowly figure also hampered the discovery of the treason of Maclean and Philby: while learning, from a Soviet source, that the KGB had a double agent working in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., the SIS assumed it must be a janitor or lowly clerk. 7. In planning their konspiratsia against the British Secret Service in From Russia with Love, SMERSH decides that “most of their strength lies in the myth—in the myth of Scotland Yard, of Sherlock Holmes, of the Secret Service” (43)—thus establishing a connection between the two “mythical” characters of Holmes and Bond. 8. David Trotter makes the interesting point that Hannay’s status changes between the first two novels: “The Richard Hannay of The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) is an amateur, the Richard Hannay of Greenmantle (1916) a professional” (“Politics,” 42). 9. In contrast, William Le Queux viewed the lower classes as a potential threat to Britain’s domestic security: as his biographer states, “Lack of government commitment to a defence policy based on real strength was not, however, the only enemy to the integrity of Britain and her empire. The metropolitan poor were seen by Le Queux (and others) as a threat to the established order, ‘a mysterious and frightening new force gathered in the cities’” (Patrick, 62). 10. There is perhaps an echo of Conrad’s The Secret Agent, where dynamite is used by the terrorist (Verloc) against the British state. In Buchan’s novel, by contrast, the same technology is used by the patriotic spy to thwart his country’s enemies. A more recent example of how a prior training—specifically experience with explosives—is used to defeat an enemy, may be found in Frederick Forsyth’s short story “Money with Menaces” in which the protagonist, Samuel Nutkin (who is being blackmailed for sexual misdemeanors) uses his wartime training in the Royal Engineers bomb disposal unit to create a bomb that kills his tormentors (Forsyth, No Comebacks, 126–49. 11. This immunity is changed in Greenmantle, in which Hannay falls under the spell of the German spy Hilda von Einem. See my discussion of Greenmantle, below. 12. This trope of the accidental spy having one or more female help meets became a template for the spy genre, recurring regularly in later versions of the prototype, such as Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (NNW, 1959) and Sidney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor (1976).

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13. The story of Operation Mincemeat is told by Ewen Montagu, one of its chief orchestrators while he was in NID, in The Man Who Never Was (1953). Montagu was the elder brother of Ivor Montagu, a film producer and (it has since been revealed) Soviet spy for the GRU during World War II. Ivor was the producer of several Alfred Hitchcock films in Britain, including The Thirty-Nine Steps. There are further connections with Hitchcock: Ewen’s book was made into a film in 1956, directed by Ronald Neame who had begun his career as assistant cameraman on Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929), the first talking picture made in England. A more recent version of the story is Ben Macintyre’s Operation Mincemeat. 14. To create a greater sense of urgency, Hitchcock and his screen writer, Ernest Lehman, involve Thornhill in a murder plot—echoing The Thirty-Nine Steps—as he is photographed holding the knife that killed the real Lester Townsend, at the United Nations. On the run from the police as well as Vandamm, Thornhill is thus forced to give up one identity—the secure, prosperous, and complacent Madison Ave executive—and accept another, the brave and resourceful secret agent. As with Hannay, we see that Thornhill’s normal life is lacking in excitement and adventure. He is dependent on his secretary and his mother for his social arrangements, is highly selfinterested, and has two failed marriages behind him. The emptiness of his everyday identity is signified by the “O” at the middle of his initialed monogram—ROT— which, as he will inform Eve, stands for “nothing.” Already adept in the arts of deception, Thornhill will have to exploit these abilities to survive. 15. In a clever revision of the scene from The Thirty-Nine Steps where Hannay fails to enlist the assistance of Pamela on the train to Scotland, Thornhill hides from the police on the 20th century express, and Eve—whom he has just met—helps him by misdirecting his pursuers. It appears that ROT has more good fortune with women than Hannay, and yet Eve is then revealed to be working for the enemy spies. She is the bait in a classic “honey trap” of espionage, luring Thornhill to her compartment on the train and then seducing him before setting him up for a fatal encounter with a crop-dusting plane. Thornhill’s accidents are not all fortunate ones, though he has his fair share of luck. 16. Despite the Edwardian “boys own” quality to this encounter, there are echoes of Hannay’s discomfort even in that most amorous of modern spies, James Bond. Bond objects to being given a female partner in Casino Royale, feeling that women are purely decorative, sexual objects and should not be involved in espionage. 17. The figure of Greenmantle has strong echoes of the Mahdi, the Islamic leader to lead the rebellion against the British in the Egyptian-ruled Sudan in the 1880s, resulting in the overthrow of the Egyptian regime and the death of General George Gordon. The context has changed, however, as the chief beneficiary of Greenmantle’s uprising would be Germany. 18. In Braddon’s novel, George Talboys—Lady Audley’s husband—is rendered speechless, “for he sat before it for about a quarter of an hour without uttering a word—only staring blankly at the painted canvas” (Braddon, 71). 19. Interestingly, Graham Greene would replicate this dual structure in his 1943 novel of an accidental spy who loses his memory and obtains a new identity, The Ministry of Fear. The first part of the novel is called “The Unhappy Man”



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and narrates the experiences of the guilt-ridden Arthur Rowe. The second half, “The Happy Man,” switches to Richard Digby, the alter-ego whom Rowe becomes after he is injured by an exploding bomb. Because of Rowe’s guilty secret—that he has killed his wife—I discuss him in the category of “the spy who knew too much” in the following chapter. 20. Politically, Ambler’s background is more obviously left wing and intellectual than Hitchcock’s, though recently critics have pointed out, Hitchcock was involved with Ivor Montagu’s left-wing Film Society in the 1920s (Haeffner, 23). As Nicholas Haeffner notes, “through the Film Society Hitchcock made contacts with the film intelligentsia” and “Hitchcock had considerable artistic and intellectual aspirations in the 1920s” (24). The image of Hitchcock as simply a popular entertainer is a very distorted version of his output: as Haeffner argues “Hitchcock took a keen interest in ideas … was aware of the various schools of film criticism and … frequently and opportunistically geared his films to straddle the divide between highbrow intellectual culture and popular culture” (30–31). 21. Of course, one of the enemy’s thugs, Captain Mailler, is also British having served in the “Black and Tans” and worked as a strike breaker in the US. This prevents an easy dichotomy between British and foreigner as hero-villain. However Kenton’s refusal to yield to Mailler’s torture links him with the “stiff upper lip” and proud defiance of the English public school tradition. The scene in which Mailler tortures Kenton anticipates the scene of Le Chiffre torturing Bond in Casino Royale—another occasion where the British spy refuses to capitulate to extreme physical pain. 22. A twenty-first-century popular example of the accidental spy is Dr. Jonathan Ransom, the protagonist of Christopher Reich’s “Rules” Series (Rules of Deception, Rules of Vengeance, Rules of Betrayal). A surgeon by profession (he works for Doctors Without Borders) Ransom discovers that his wife, Emma, is not who she appears to be. Rather than a Cornish-born Oxford graduate, Emma is actually Russian by birth, was raised in New Jersey, studied at Long Beach State in California and— most significantly—is a spy working for “The Division”: an ultra-secret section of the CIA, arranging the most covert missions and black operations. As Ransom explains to a fellow-doctor—whose wife is also revealed as a Division agent—“they undertake covert operations around the world to advance American security concerns. Mostly they kill people” (Rules of Vengeance, 239). Because of his intimate relationship with Emma, who is being sought by both the Division (for sabotaging a previous operation) and by MI6 (for her involvement in a car bomb targeting the Russian interior minister in London), Jonathan himself becomes a suspect, along the lines of The Thirty-Nine Steps and NNW.

Chapter 3

The Spy Who Knew Too Much

The previous chapter on the accidental spy argued that this figure is typically an “everyman” who stumbles into a plot of intrigue, and is either persuaded or chooses to become more deeply involved in espionage. As we have seen, some initial reluctance on the part of the accidental spy to play a role in the espionage plot is typical, as it may conflict with his self-image or preferred lifestyle. Yet he accepts the task, apparently believing it his duty to try to prevent the plot against Britain. Despite being a leisured gentlemen, the accidental spy often acts from a sense of patriotism and duty that outweighs his doubts and self-interest. In the case of Ambler’s fiction, the accidental spy may be in some way complicit with the military-industrial system yet is not personally guilty of a crime. Moreover, Ambler’s protagonists are not generally patriotic but act from motives of survival. Yet there are other cases of spy fiction in which the protagonist, while unprepared and untrained for espionage, cannot be considered an everyman figure, or to be an innocent man wrongly accused of a crime (as Hannay, Thornhill, Kenton are). This new type of protagonist is marked by some past crime or moral flaw that gives him reason to be suspicious of official authority. By designating this category “the spy who knows too much,” I make an obvious allusion to the Hitchcock films The Man Who Knew Too Much (MWKTM) (1934, remade in 1955), featuring a British or American family whose dysfunctions are exposed by the espionage plot. There is also a pervasive sense of secrecy or moral doubt surrounding this type of protagonist that calls into question the very concept of “innocence” on which the “wrong man” theme relies. This type of spy protagonist emerges during the interwar period, when there was widely felt ambivalence concerning the most serious menace to Britain’s national security. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, 75

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many in Britain’s ruling class viewed Russia (specifically, Bolshevism) as the chief menace to Britain’s imperial security and way of life. Following the Cheka’s storming of the British Embassy in Petrograd, Keith Jeffery notes, “Britain and Soviet Russia were openly at war” (138). Yet the period also witnessed the rise of National Socialism in Germany, in which Adolf Hitler— who assumed power in 1933—became the British government’s chief enemy. The head of Britain’s Secret Service was increasingly concerned about the threat from Germany, and many of Britain’s left-wing intellectuals (including several spy novelists) saw fascism as a greater threat to world peace than Communism. Unlike World War I or World War II, this was a period of uncertainty about who—and where—the greatest enemy was. Hence the assumption that the enemy is Germany, which typifies the “accidental spy” story, has been replaced by a murky moral and political landscape. The examples I shall discuss in this chapter are mainly novels and films from the 1930s and 40s, produced shortly before or during World War II. Historically, this period in which the spy who knows too much flourished—the 1930s and 40s—was also marked by erosion of the confidence and privileges that Britain had enjoyed as an imperial power. As the devastating conflict of World War I had wiped out a generation of young men, so the Great Depression and the General Strike of 1926 exposed the fractures within Britain’s class-based society. Even the Allied victory over Germany in World War II—which Britain achieved only with significant American help—could not disguise the cracks in Britain’s imperial fortress. The loss of India as an imperial possession in 1947, confirmed a dramatic loss of prestige in the global political landscape. The interwar years were also a period of economic depression and disillusionment, in which national boundaries were increasingly unstable. The rise of fascism was not confined to European powers such as Germany and Italy, where Mussolini began an increasingly aggressive foreign policy. In Britain, also, Fascism under leaders such as Oswald Mosley—who founded the British Union of Fascists in 1932—gained enough support to be of concern to MI5 (Andrew, 190–1). Despite certain superficial resemblances to the build up to World War I as represented in Buchan’s novels, the mood is quite different in these later novels. There is a murkier moral landscape in which the stark dichotomies that define Buchan’s fiction—with the Germans as the clear “villains” outwitted by the British colonial hero— have all but vanished. Although the type of the spy who knew too much flourished in the 1930s and 1940s, I argue the type persisted into the 1950s and even 1960s. To illustrate the evolution of this type of fictional spy, I shall offer comparative readings of Hitchcock’s two versions of MWKTM—1934 (discussed at the beginning of the chapter) and 1955 (discussed at the end). This will allow us to consider how the type of spy changed during the two decades



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separating the two films. Whereas the first version reflects, like Ambler and Greene’s novels, the tensions and uncertainties of the buildup to World War II, the later version is embedded in the altered political landscape of the Cold War. There is also a significant difference between the films in terms of gender. Hitchcock’s early films have a predominantly feminine perspective. As we saw in the previous chapter, Hitchcock preferred to adapt the male-centered spy thriller plot to foreground the role of women and romantic relationships. In his version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, this took the form of substituting a female spy (Annabella Smith) for Scudder, as Hannay’s recruiter, as well as providing Hannay with a series of female helpers. In the case of MWKTM and The Lady Vanishes—the latter film made immediately after The Thirty-Nine Steps—the spy story is told from a predominantly female point of view. Rather than constitute the object of the male gaze—playing the role, in Laura Mulvey’s terms, of “to-be-looked-at-ness” (Visual Pleasure, 19)—the female protagonists in Hitchcock’s early films take on more active roles. They do not merely serve as “a signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his fantasies and obsessions” (Visual 15), but adopt what is traditionally “the man’s role as the active one advancing the story” (20).1 In the later version, the perspective has shifted decisively to the male protagonist, Dr. Ben McKenna (James Stewart): it is his quest to reclaim his child, rather than the mother’s, that the later film focuses on. The shift to a more masculine perspective is also reflected in the fact that the daughter who is kidnapped in the earlier film is replaced by a son who is taken hostage in the later version. In the earlier film, the suggestion of sexual guilt focuses on the mother, Jill Lawrence. The Lawrences—an English family—are vacationing in Switzerland when Bob Lawrence accidentally becomes the confidant of the secret of a foreign spy, Louis Bernard, confided to him as he dies. The Man Who escalates the tension by including the kidnapping of the Lawrences’s daughter Betty by the foreign spies. Having received warning of a plot to assassinate a statesman called Roper, Louis Bernard was killed to prevent him acting on this knowledge. However, by passing on key information about the plot—concealed inside his shaving brush—Bernard turns Bob into the spy who knows too much. The film suggests, however, that the Lawrence family is already out of balance, in patriarchal terms, due to Jill Lawrence’s open flirtations with other men and her dominance of her husband. Jill is a competitive sharpshooter—a conventionally masculine skill—who neglects her maternal duties to pursue competitions (expressing her irritation when interrupted by her daughter), and openly flirts with Louis Bernard, the foreign spy who will confide in her husband. One might interpret the death of Bernard as a wish fulfillment of

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Bob’s, that his potential rival is eliminated. Yet in this case he is punished by losing his daughter.2 Bob is portrayed as somewhat passive and ineffectual, until his family is threatened by the enemy spy ring. This transformation mirrors that of the clubland hero who turns from a self-indulgent man-abouttown to an agent serving Britain’s interests. This dangerous state of excess knowledge is also transmitted to his daughter, Betty, who is kidnapped but eventually escapes from the gang of spies in a dangerous rooftop adventure. Betty’s active role in restoring the family compensates, then, for the neglect and violations of the maternal role by Jill. The conclusion of the film is a variation on the formation of the couple theme often used by Hitchcock: here, it is Jill who redeems herself by preventing the assassination at the Albert Hall. Ultimately, the family is restored to harmony, as Bob and Jill welcome their daughter back into their arms. The influence of Hitchcock’s early films can be detected in the emergent spy thriller of the 1930s and 1940s. Among the classic “spy who knows too much” thrillers must be counted Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male (1939). A businessman, journalist, seasoned traveller, and playwright, Household’s first novel was admired by Ian Fleming. It was Rogue Male, however, that brought him fame, and led to comparisons with John Buchan. There are indeed striking parallels with Buchan’s novel, both being narrated by a wellto-do Englishman (or colonial) who falls afoul of enemy spies that pursue him in his own country. Household’s narrator—who remains anonymous— is, like Hannay, a sportsman who relies on his own survival instincts and resourceful nature to outsmart a better-equipped and ruthless foreign enemy. However, the differences between Hannay and Household’s unnamed protagonist—whom we shall call “X”—are not only interesting in themselves, but enlightening about the distinctions between the accidental spy and spy who knows too much. The fact that X is unnamed in the story is itself significant, suggesting that he has something to hide and is afraid of being publicly identified. This is despite the fact that X makes several references to his name being well-known: When he meets with his lawyer Saul, wishing to “vanish,” Saul says “You’ve been abroad so much that I don’t think you have ever realized the power of your name” (48). There are also references to X’s face being recognized. X refers to his narrative—which has no chapter or section headings—as a “confession” (63), a form that implies guilt or sin on the part of the narrator. It is also written in the course of the events themselves, the first two parts of the confession being penned while X is hiding in his primitive burrow underground. A brief plot summary will help to clarify the differences between Rogue Male and Buchan’s prototype. The protagonist and narrator (X), an English gentleman of leisure and keen huntsman, is captured by the enemy while training his gun on the dictator of a foreign power, using a telescopic sight.3 He insists that he was just a “a bored



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and wealthy Englishman who had hunted all commoner game [and] might well find a perverse pleasure in hunting the biggest game on earth” (1–2). Denying any political motive—or even the intention to pull the trigger—X is interrogated and tortured by his captors, who eventually decide to dispose of him by throwing him over a cliff. However, X manages to survive, lands in a marsh, and eventually returns to “safety” in England. Here, however, he learns he is being followed by the enemy agents who have managed to penetrate England. He evades them by switching trains in the London Underground, eventually killing one of his pursuers by pushing him onto a live underground rail. Now wanted for murder in London, he is unable to go to the authorities; indeed he was previously wary of doing so as he did not want to implicate Britain in an assassination plot against a foreign power (the dictator he took aim at is presumably Adolf Hitler). X decides he cannot leave Britain because he would have to provide identity papers, and risk capture. He therefore opts to hide from his pursuers in Britain, choosing Dorset as a region close to his own “country,” yet not so close as to involve his dependents (another echo of Hannay’s choice of Scotland as a refuge). Recalling a hidden lane where he once went on a romantic tryst, X creates an elaborate hideout by digging a burrow and concealing the entrance with a camouflaged door. Through several mischances, the enemy agent—who adopts the alias Major Quive-Smith—manages to locate his burrow and persecutes him, demanding that X sign a confession that he attempted the assassination with the knowledge of Britain. X refuses, insisting that no Englishman would sign such a confession, and is enraged when Quive-Smith kills a wild cat that X had befriended. Determining revenge, X constructs an elaborate catapault device using an iron-spit as an arrow, with which he shoots Quive-Smith through the head when the enemy agent puts his head in the ventilation hole. X then threatens Quive-Smith’s assistant, Muller, to help him escape by sea disguised as Quive-Smith, using the dead agent’s papers. He eventually drops Muller off the boat near Tangier, and himself travels to Marseille under a new name. A concluding letter to X’s lawyer, Saul, admits to two murders and confirms that X will be making another attempt to assassinate the foreign dictator, from which he does not expect to return alive. As this summary makes clear, X cannot be considered an innocent man in the Hannay mold. He does not become involved in international intrigue by accident—by a chance encounter with a foreign spy—but as a result of his own premeditated action. Unlike Hannay, who is pursued for a murder he didn’t commit, X has committed murder and will later do so again. He is, moreover, a highly unreliable narrator. At the beginning, X insists he was simply in search of a sporting challenge, and never intended to assassinate the foreign dictator. Eventually, when questioned by Quive-Smith, he admits that he did intend to pull the trigger. He also confesses to the reader that his

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motives were personal: his attempt was an act of revenge for the killing of his foreign fiancée (implicitly Jewish) who was killed by the dictator’s regime: “they caught her and shot her. Shot her. Reasons of State” (147). Thus although the assassination attempt appears to be a political act, its deepest motives are personal, the loss of his lover: “I declared war upon the men who could commit such sacrilege, and above all upon the man who has given them their creed” (148). This withholding of key information and motivation from the reader is unthinkable in Hannay’s narrative, which strives for transparency. Like the narrator’s guilt, his unreliability makes the reader wary of any claims to ethical integrity. At the same time, X cannot be considered a professional agent. He does admit to Quive-Smith’s charge of having furnished his friends in the Foreign Office with reports of his travels abroad offering but denies he is “a servant of the State” (144) in the matter of the assassination. The narrative turns on two key acts of revenge which are, ultimately, personal rather than political. The first is his decision to attempt the assassination in revenge for the death of his fiancée. The second—which is actually more central to the narrative— is his revenge against Quive-Smith for the murder of the wild cat, Asmodeus, who has been his companion underground. As X states, “by shooting Asmodeus Quive-Smith condemned himself to death” (155). While admitting that “it was in a sense so slight a crime” (155), there is an apparently unconscious displacement of the revenge motive, from his murdered fiancée to the killed cat. This is reinforced by the fact that X first discovered the secret lane in which he hides, when in the company of his fiancée: “This lane was our discovery, a perilous passage made for us to force” (74). This, the first mention of the fiancée in the narrative, reveals that the choice of hiding place was directly linked to his memory of her. The death of the cat—shoved unceremoniously into the ventilation hole of what might become the narrator’s own grave—thus recalls the murder of his love, and condemns Quive-Smith to a violent death. Both the violence of his revenge, and the unconsciousness of his motives (he states, “This habit of thinking about myself and my motives has grown upon me only recently”[63]) mark a radical departure from Hannay’s relatively unreflective approach to spying. Another sign that Rogue Male belongs in the “spy who knows too much” category is the novel’s attitude to international politics and borders. The narrator explicitly disavows any patriotic motive for his actions (145). Whereas Hannay increasingly comes to identify as British, X portrays himself as an individual acting from his own motives. The title only emphasizes this “rogue” status, a refusal to identify with any organization or state. He is, in a key sense, less an agent than an anarchist and survivalist.4 The narrator even bemoans the loss of individual freedom due to the need for passports and identification. The novel is written in an age (1930s) when the international



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frontier was becoming far more significant: as European nations prepared for seemingly inevitable war, the obstacles involved in moving between nations increased significantly. It is this practical difficulty of disappearing overseas that leads to X’s decision to remain in his own country. In a telling passage, X is nostalgic for the days of undocumented travel: “In these days of visas and identification cards it is impossible to travel without leaving a trail that can, with patience, bribery, and access to public records, be picked up. In the happy years between 1925 and 1930 you could talk yourself over any western European frontier, so long as you looked respectable and explained your movements and business with a few details that could be checked” (58). This idea of the demand for papers authenticating national identity as a “trap,” is a motif that also occurs for Eric Ambler’s protagonists. The question of national identity therefore becomes much more fraught: it is not a matter of patriotism but of official papers, needed to prove who one is, which nation one “belongs to.” In this pre-World War II novel “frontiers are an efficient bar to those who find it inconvenient or impossible to show their papers.” The narrator ultimately seeks his identity in the informal document of his own confession: refusing to sign the “official” confession presented by Quive-Smith, X insists that “In this confession I have forced myself to analyse; when I write that I did this because of that, it is true” (63). Fritz Lang’s 1941 film version of Rogue Male, titled Man Hunt, makes several significant changes to the story. Whereas the identity of the protagonist is withheld in Household’s novel, he is named Captain Alan Thorndike in Lang’s film. Likewise, the foreign dictator whom he targets is explicitly shown to be Adolf Hitler. In the course of his escape from Quive-Smith, Thorndike is befriended by a young woman, Jerry Stokes, who gives him refuge and lends him money. It is her murder—rather than the death of Asmodius—that Thorndike avenges in killing Quive-Smith. Significantly, the weapon he uses to form the arrow that kills his enemy, is the arrow pin from Jerry’s beret—given to him by Quive-Smith as proof of her death. By specifying Hitler as the intended target, Lang’s film has a propagandist stance befitting its wartime production. Yet the ambiguity surrounding the source of international danger that makes the disturbing atmosphere of Household’s novel, is sacrificed in Lang’s film. Moreover, X’s affection for the cat is a mark of eccentricity in the protagonist that reflects his “rogue” (outsider) status. The film’s substitution of the attractive young woman for the wild cat arguably makes the protagonist seem more conventional in his affections, and conforms more to the romantic expectations of the mainstream cinema audience. X’s concern about the surveillance opportunities offered by national borders mirrors the use of the Passport Control Office as a cover for Secret Service activities. Keith Jeffery describes “the vital financial contribution

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which Passport Control made to Cumming’s organization” (Secret, 154). So widely known was the ruse of using Passport Control—typically housed in the British Embassy or consulate—that it because less useful as a cover, even though the financial advantages remained. The concern with the invasiveness of national borders also informs the work of Household’s contemporary Eric Ambler, another key author in the “spy who knows too much” type of fiction. Ambler’s series of novels featured often-unwitting protagonists who are plunged into an international conspiracy against their will and intention. There is a shift, however, between his early novels such as Background to Danger and Epitaph for a Spy (1938)—which I discussed as examples of the accidental spy in chapter 2—and The Mask of Dimitrios (US title A Coffin for Dimitrios, 1939) featuring the protagonist Charles Latimer. This novel, among Ambler’s best known works, is still more Hitchcockian than its predecessor in weaving together of international intrigue with individual persecution-mania. The title character is a mysterious criminal, spy, and corrupt businessman who is first introduced in the novel through the character of Colonel Haki, the Turkish chief of police. The protagonist of the novel, Latimer—a detective novelist—is introduced to Haki at a party and finds the policeman keen to share an idea for a novel with him. This idea proves to be inspired by the corpse of a criminal called Dimitrios, who has changed identities numerous times and had thus eluded the police and his other enemies until his apparent death. Latimer becomes intrigued by the dossier of Dimitrios and, under the pretext of writing his novel, follows his trail across Europe. He discovers that Dimitrios is not dead, but has faked his own demise, substituting another man’s corpse for his.5 Throughout his investigation, Latimer is driven by professional curiosity and ambition—his desire for a good (and marketable) plot—rather than by patriotism or social duty. During his investigation, Latimer uncovers a network of conspiracy and intrigue that involves European powers spying on each other, and learns that a multi-national bank is in league with armaments manufacturers to advance the prospect of war. In this regard, Ambler is one of the first spy novelists to expose the lucrative commercial business of war, as a key dimension of industrial capitalism. Writing a few years before Ambler, the German critic Walter Benjamin noted “the destruction caused by war furnishes proof that society was not mature enough to make technology its organ, that technology was not sufficiently developed to master the elemental forces of society. The most horrifying features of imperialist war are determined by the discrepancy between the enormous means of production and their inadequate use in the process of production” (“Work of Art,” 1071). Benjamin here delineates a failure of human agency—unable to make technology its servant or instrument—and a compensatory absorption of (human) agency by technology itself, as a kind of modern god that demands human sacrifice. Benjamin’s



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awareness of the economic motives and technological imperatives of modern warfare relates to a political critique that is implicit also in the spy novels of Ambler and Graham Greene. As David Stafford argues, “That international business in general, and arms manufacturers in particular, were responsible for war was a commonplace idea in the 1930s” (Silent, 134). Indeed, Ambler’s Dimitrios is first and foremost a businessman, a ruthless opportunist who seeks profit in every venture. Classified intelligence is one of the valuable commodities he trades in, and he has hired spies to steal defense secrets from the Yugoslav Embassy, which he plans to sell to the Italians. Through the master spy Grudek, Ambler evokes a world of international espionage and intrigue that supplements the military operations: “For its own security, each of those [country’s] armies, air forces and navies must know what each corresponding force in each of the other twenty-six countries is doing—what its strength is, what its efficiency is, what secret preparation it is making. That means spies—armies of them” (155). Grudek in turn recruits Bulic—an employee at the embassy—through bribery, to steal a copy of a vital chart. Dimitrios, out for himself, inserts himself into the gap between spymaster and agent, but eventually steals the microfilm from Grudek (175) and sells it to a French agent. Espionage, for Dimitrios, is simply another lucrative business. The world of Dimitrios is murky and seemingly amoral, in sharp contrast to the order that Latimer seeks to impose, and which the detective novel (with its quest of achieving closure by exposing the criminal) relies on. Unlike Epitaph, which follows the structure of the detective novel, Dimitrios suggests the impossibility of closure in the spy novel. Indeed, Dimitrios—with its detective-novelist protagonist—might be read as an ironic critique on the limitations of the mystery genre, its vain effort to grasp the complexities of the world of international relations just prior to World War II. The purpose of the “mask” (referred to in the UK title) is not just limited to Dimitrios, who uses several false identities, including Taladis: most of the characters wear a mask of some kind, such as Mr. Peters whom Latimer meets on a train, and who poses as a benign citizen of the world: “To me, all countries, all languages are beautiful. If only men could live as brothers, without hatred, seeing only the beautiful things” (71). The irony of this anodyne speech is confirmed when, soon afterwards, Peters threatens to kill Latimer. Peters—who turns out to be one of Dimitrios’s chief allies—believes Latimer is too interested in Dimitrios, and asks him what his game is (128). The notion of espionage as a “game” persists even in Ambler’s seedy world, and to show excessive interest in a criminal and spy is to be perceived as a threat. Ambler develops a significant variation on the theme of imminent war introduced by Childers and Buchan, whose amateur spies stumble on a plot by one powerful nation (Germany) to invade another (Britain). For Childers

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assumes that every right-minded, patriotic Briton would do what Davies and Carruthers do: namely, take the initiative and seek to prevent the invasion out of nationalistic fervor. Buchan’s Hannay, while he believes war with Germany is imminent, seeks to prevent Germany from gaining an insuperable advantage by stealing Britain’s defense secrets. Hence, these accidental spies act out of worthy, even noble motives. By contrast, the war that Latimer comes to realize is imminent, is a profiteering enterprise provoked by an unholy alliance between military interests, racketeers, and international finance. Curiously, Latimer makes no mention of Nazism as the enemy. The national boundaries which tend to align with “good” and “evil” in the earlier spy novels—Britain as the noble yet threatened nation, Germany as the evil, duplicitous invader—are blurred in Ambler’s world, in which war is a matter of economics rather than principles or national identity.6 The novels of Childers and Buchan are conservative in that they feature protagonists transformed from uncommitted “men about town,” to patriotic, dutiful subjects who seek to protect the British state and government from its foreign enemies. Both novelists, of course, identify and dramatize serious flaws with Britain’s ruling elite and/or its defense strategy. Childers’s novel is in part an alarm call to alert the public about the weakness of Britain’s coastal defenses. It reflects badly on Britain that Davies, a talented seaman, was not accepted into the British Navy, whereas Dollmann, the traitor, was a Lieutenant in the Navy. The observational powers and personal courage of Hannay, the amateur, reflect badly on those officially tasked with Britain’s national security. Yet both writers assert that the British (or colonial) “everyman” is both able and entitled to intervene in international affairs, while evil seems embodied in specific antagonists. Latimer’s motives for involvement in espionage are professional rather than nationalistic. Having heard Colonel Haki’s story, Latimer asks to see Dimitrios’s body, which allows him to flesh out the narrative told by the Turkish officer: “This was the man who had connived at assassinations, who had spied for France. This was the man who had trafficked in drugs, who had given a gun to a Croat terrorist and who, in the end, had himself died by violence” (33). His professional fascination with his subject—even though the body turns out not to be Dimitrios’s at all—leads Latimer into intrigues. He describes his task as “an impersonal experiment in detection [that] must not be allowed to become an obsession” (139), but it clearly becomes just such an obsession. This obsession means that, for others including Dimitrios, Latimer knows too much. Like others before him, he penetrates the façade of secure everyday bourgeois existence, to find a seething nest of competing interests and economic exploitation. Latimer is far more reluctant than either Childers’s or Buchan’s protagonists—or indeed Le Queux’s—to become involved in



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the plots that he uncovers. His ostensible purpose—of researching a mystery novel—provides a perfect pretext for following Dimitrios’s trail without intervening in his plots. Yet Latimer will eventually be sucked into the international conflict, partly because Peters refuses to believe that he is simply an innocent bystander. And in fact it will eventually be impossible for Latimer to remain a detached observer: it is he who fires the bullet that eventually ends Dimitrios’s life, even though he acts from motives of survival rather than patriotism. Ambler’s contemporary, Graham Greene, also uses the device of a man who inadvertently stumbles on an international espionage plot and places his own life in jeopardy as a result. As does Ambler, Greene develops an alternative to the patriotic (and romantic) spy thriller, by creating characters and protagonists who lack a strong sense of national identity or loyalty and are driven by other motives, in particular personal survival. Even in times of national and political crisis, such individuals are actuated by their own private concerns and conscience. Unlike Ambler, Greene was himself an agent of SIS, posted in Sierra Leone during World War II and working under Kim Philby in the Iberian section. Yet this does not mean that Greene adopted a patriotic stance towards espionage in his writing. Indeed, Greene wrote a controversial introduction to Philby’s memoir, My Silent War, in which he compared the persecution of Philby to that of Catholics during the Spanish Inquisition, thus, apparently extenuating Philby’s treason (Greene, “Kim Philby” 1). Even before his employment by SIS, however, Greene’s novels display a profound interest in the issue of guilty knowledge and unwilling involvement in conspiracy, both of which are hallmarks of the spy who knew too much. His early masterpiece, Brighton Rock (1938) is set in the English seaside resort of the title and does not display overt interest in international affairs. However the novel’s juvenile gangland leader, Pinkie Brown, is characterized as a “a young dictator” (117) who is concerned with “manhood [and] potency” (118). Novelist and critic J.M. Coetzee argues that “of the world outside Brighton he [Pinkie] is utterly ignorant” (“Introduction,” viii); yet also claims “Pinkie is a chilling specimen of the Adolf Hitler type” (viii), thus linking the novel to international politics of the 1930s. Greene’s novel offers an interesting twist by using two female characters who “know too much” and thus present threats to Pinkie’s dictatorship. Ida Arnold, the large-breasted and life-loving woman who befriends Hale (whom she knows as Fred) on the day he is killed by Pinkie’s gang, embraces her involvement to work as a kind of detective pursuing the perpetrator of the murder. More crucially, Rose—the young waitress at Snows Restaurant—discovers the flaw in Pinkie’s alibi on the day of the murder and therefore “knows too much.” Pinkie becomes involved with her despite viewing her as “ignorant as himself” (127) about sex. His motive is to prevent her from using her knowledge

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to incriminate him, recognizing that she has “the secret, the memory still securely lodged in her skull” (97). Greene’s later novels powerfully engage issues of espionage, national security, and international conflict, while offering a more detached, even cynical perspective on the individual’s subjection to and manipulation by official ideology. Greene’s priority, in other words, is not reinforcing the security of the state, but exploring the limits of individual freedom—and the possibility of happiness—under the constraints of statehood. Rollo Martins, the protagonist of The Third Man, has a number of qualities in common with Latimer. Firstly, he is a writer of popular fiction, always looking for new ideas and characters for his novels. Secondly, he is traveling abroad and is outside his familiar environment. Thirdly, he becomes ensnared in conspiracies surrounding a charismatic and opportunistic master criminal whom he believes is dead. In Martins’s case, however, the criminal is not a mysterious stranger but an old school friend, Harry Lime, whom he has admired since their schooldays. It is this prior friendship and history with Lime that identifies Martins as a spy who knows too much: for he already has a tendency to idolize Lime, a belief in his friend’s goodness, and his persistent pursuit of the truth surrounding Lime’s death means that others would like him out of the way.7 Lime, like Dimitrios, is not in fact dead but has caused another man to be buried in his place. It is the puzzling appearance of a “third man” at the scene of Lime’s death—a man that we eventually learn was Lime himself—that leads to Martins’s investigation. Unlike Ambler’s Dimitrios, which uses a third-person narration, Greene’s novella is narrated by a British security officer, Major Calloway, which prevents the reader from gaining direct access to Martins. Calloway admits that Martins has certain advantages over the professional agent: “an amateur detective has this advantage over the professional, that he doesn’t work set hours. Rollo Martins was not confined to the eight-hour day: his investigations didn’t have to pause for meals” (57). Yet the novella raises the question of whether Martins’s first-hand knowledge of Lime is in fact an “advantage.” Indeed, it also proves a liability: it means he is less able to be objective in his investigation of Lime, and more likely to become a spy who “knows too much,” a threat to those who want to keep the secrets surrounding Lime’s death. In a key passage, Calloway offers a shrewd account of how Martins’s personal involvement leads him into danger: “He had shown an unhealthy curiosity, but the disease had been checked at every point. Nobody had given anything away. The smooth wall of deception had as yet shown no real crack to his roaming fingers” (62). This quotation characterizes the spy who knows too much, implying he is interfering in matters he does not fully understand. Ultimately, the curiosity is likely to prove unhealthy—or even fatal—for the protagonist himself. Likewise, there



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is a turning point at which the protagonist has gone too far in his investigation to turn back, and this is characterized as a misfortune. If, at one level, Martins knows too much about the conspiracy surrounding Lime’s death, in the course of the narrative he also comes to know too much about Lime’s true identity. The turning point in the narrative occurs when Martins learns from Calloway that Lime—his idolized friend—was actually involved in a criminal racket, selling contaminated penicillin to hospitals, resulting in the loss of many innocent lives. Greene’s story explores the disillusionment of Martins regarding his idol, and exposes the corruption underlying discourses of “noble” action (Lime’s pretense that he is helping the medical profession is exposed as a subterfuge). As a result, Calloway recognizes “a world for Martins had certainly come to an end, a world of easy friendship, hero-worship, confidence that had begun twenty years before—in a school corridor” (109).8 Calloway is an unsparing chronicler of Martins’s loss of illusions, as he knows too much for his—as well as others’s—good. Yet, as I argued at the beginning of this chapter, the spy who knows too much can never be described as truly innocent. As Peter William Evans writes of The Fallen Idol, another Greene/Reed film collaboration in which a theme of disillusionment prevails, the central character’s “innocence, far from being an idyllic phase, is already compromised” (84). Evans notes that the relationship between the two friends in The Fallen Idol—young Philippe and Baines the Butler—“are thus related to childish idolization and adult regression to childhood” (Evans, 84). One can make the same argument about The Third Man: that Martins is protecting his own illusions and childish “innocence” in refusing to face the truth about his boyhood friend. Even after learning the truth, Martins has no noble motive in helping Calloway trap Lime, having no sense of patriotism or interest in European postwar politics. Rather, Martins’s cooperation is secured by his love for Anna Schmidt, Lime’s girlfriend who has been implicated in Lime’s criminal racket. Her Austrian papers are forged, having been arranged by Lime— she is actually Hungarian—and Calloway threatens to turn her over to the Russians unless Martins cooperates. Greene thereby shows the manipulation of an individual’s romantic and sexual feeling by the State, in a way that anticipates le Carré’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold almost two decades later.9 Talking to Anna, Martins compares himself to Lime in a way that identifies him as a sexual rival: “I don’t kill people with fake drugs. I’m not a hypocrite who persuades people that I’m the greatest—I’m just a bad writer who drinks too much and falls in love with girls” (115). It is not to protect his nation’s interests, or even to save his own skin, that Martins agrees to help, but to protect the object of his sexual desire. Even after recruiting his help, Calloway warns Martins “you do know too much” (129). In the end, Martins cannot bring himself to betray Lime,

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delaying the alarm call just long enough to help him escape. As Calloway remarks, “it was not, I suppose, Lime the penicillin racketeer who was escaping down the street; it was Harry” (148). In support of my claim that Martins is a kind of spy, I would cite the fact that he is recruited in a matter of state security, in order to trap a criminal whose dealings threaten British interests in postwar Vienna. Martins becomes “the spy who knows too much,” because of the inside information he receives from Koch about Lime’s death. Koch said he had witnessed a “Third Man” carrying the body to the side of the road after the accident: a man not accounted for by the versions of the Baron or Dr. Winkle. Because of his investigation of these conflicting versions Martins arrives at the discovery that Lime is in fact alive: that “nobody had been lowered into a grave” (134): or rather, that it was his partner, Dr. Harbin, whose body was substituted for Lime’s in the accident, and buried in his place. Having in a sense benefited from Lime’s death—due to his love for Anna—Martins is forced to reengage with his rival.10 Carol Reed’s film, The Third Man, enhances the conflicted interests of Martins. In the film’s famous climactic chase scene, we see Lime—dressed in a villain’s dark outfit—darting over the piles of rubble in war-ravaged Vienna, before disappearing into the Vienna sewer system. Here, pursued by Calloway, Sergeant Paine, and Martins—as well as the Vienna police—we see Lime finally facing the consequences of his betrayals. As elsewhere in the film, Lime is shown largely in shadows, his pale face looming out from the darkness, which seems to exaggerate his actual physical size. This is a visual code for Martins’s distorted view of his friend, as a larger-than-life figure. Like a rat, Lime flees his pursuers through the sewers, and ultimately it is Martins—in an act of compassion rather than revenge—who fires the shot that kills Lime, after Calloway’s bullet has injured him.11 The Third Man explores the figure of the spy who knows too much in the context of a postwar European city. Earlier in the 1940s, Greene penned a classic example of this type of spy set during World War II, in London. The Ministry of Fear, published in 1943, is set during the Blitz in London, and the novel’s protagonist, Arthur Rowe, is ostensibly an innocent man who unluckily stumbles into an espionage plot, involving enemy spies trying to undermine Britain’s war effort. With clear echoes of Buchan’s heroes, the means by which Rowe becomes involved in the plot is a classic “wrong man” scenario: he attends a fête in London, where he coincidentally utters a preassigned code to the fortuneteller. He is then given the correct weight of the cake offered in a competition. After receiving the cake as his prize and walking away with it (ignoring the objections of the committee, the “Free Mothers”), Rowe eventually discovers that the cake contains a secret microfilm revealing crucial military secrets. A dwarf, working for the foreign spy organization, is sent to Rowe’s house to retrieve the cake, but the house



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is hit by a bomb before the enemy can kill him and obtain the microfilm. Having discovered the film, however, Rowe becomes “the spy who knows too much,” and is unable to extract himself from the intrigue. The Ministry of Fear recognizably borrows some of the themes, plot elements, and narrative strategies of the accidental spy story, particularly The Thirty-Nine Steps. For example, Greene’s novel uses the idea of the “ordinary man” unwittingly drawn into an international espionage plot by being, in effect, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like Richard Hannay, Arthur Rowe becomes enmeshed in this espionage plot through a combination of chance, seduction by a foreign spy, and a personal quality of stubborn perseverance. As in Buchan’s novel, the espionage plot revolves around an attempt by a ring of foreign spies to smuggle secrets about Britain’s defense strategy out of the country, without their theft being noticed. In Greene’s novel, the plot involves secret military documents that were not placed in a safe at the Ministry of Home Security, allowing foreign agents to photograph them. It is this “mistake” which explains the foreign spies’ determination to reclaim the cake/film and eliminate Rowe. As mentioned, Rowe is further drawn into the plot due to the seductive appeal of two foreign spies: the Hilfes, whom he initially takes to be friendly towards England.12 Despite such similarities of scenario and plot structure, however, Greene’s novel develops a radically different approach than Buchan’s to espionage, avoiding most of the patrician ambience of “Clubland” and high Victorian adventure. Greene’s protagonist lacks both the patriotic motives and the skilled resourcefulness of the “accidental spy,” being cursed by bad fortune rather than blessed with good luck. The prime example of this is Rowe “winning” the cake—which seems like a stroke of good luck but in fact places him in a life-threatening situation, involved in what Hilfe calls “some enormous conspiracy” (Ministry, 35). Indeed, Greene’s focus is not on the regeneration of the hero through involvement in espionage, but on the breakup of Rowe’s identity under the pressure of this espionage plot, and the ravages of his own personal guilt over the death of his wife. We learn early in the novel that Rowe has committed a mercy killing of his terminally ill wife, for which he was prosecuted and incarcerated. Though he wasn’t found guilty of a capital crime—he was incarcerated in a sanatorium rather than a prison—Rowe continues to feel guilty about the deed, which fundamentally compromises his innocence: admitting to himself that he killed his wife because he was unable to bear her suffering (77). His wife is not the only deceased relative that haunts him—in a dream he has of his deceased mother, he tries to explain to her how he and the world have changed—“You used to laugh at the books Miss Savage read—about spies, and murders, and violence, and wild motorcar chases, but dear, that’s real life: it’s what we’ve all made of the world

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since you died. I’m your little Arthur who wouldn’t hurt a beetle and I’m a murderer too. The world has been re-made by William Le Queux” (54). In harking back to one of the founders of the spy novel, Greene both acknowledges an influence and signals his departure from the model of the accidental spy. Indeed, the novel is divided into two parts, each of which contains an apparently separate protagonist who actually turns out to be the same man. As a result of being caught in an explosion—while carrying a suitcase ostensibly full of books but actually containing a bomb—Rowe loses his memory and returns to consciousness as a patient in a sanatorium, Richard Digby. Digby is Rowe’s alter ego, lacking any guilt about his role in the death of Rowe’s wife. Digby is also more expressive than Rowe about his emotions and sexual desires. For example, is able to recognize Anna Hilfe as sexually attractive (101). Digby is more assertive than Rowe in expressing his feelings to Anna: so that the only thing that worries him is “that you might go out of that door and not come back” (102). Using this alter ego, Greene implies that freedom from the past and forgetting about his dead wife are psychic necessities for Rowe’s libido to be restored, and that this can only occur in a different persona—Digby. Where Rowe “knows too much”—both about the espionage plot and his own guilty past—Digby “knows too little” about his true identity. Yet this lack of knowledge proves empowering. As this focus on Rowe’s reawakened sexuality suggests, another significant difference between Greene’s protagonist and his “accidental spy” precursors, is the key role assigned to women. Unlike Buchan and Childers, Greene’s novel places women—and, more broadly, sexual politics—at the center of The Ministry. Gender relations add to the complexity of the “spy who knew too much” type of spy novel. In the first place, we note Rowe’s emotionally unstable condition results from the killing of his wife. Early in the novel, Rowe is described in terms that continue to associate him with marriage, despite his legally single status: “you would have said a bachelor if it had not been for an indefinable married look…” (4). Significantly, the charity fête where Rowe becomes involved in espionage has as its “cause,” “Comforts for free mothers—I mean mothers of the free nations” (4), invoking maternity as well as matrimony in his persona. Rowe later seeks, through his alter ego Digby, to become free of his mother. As we see from Rowe’s dreamed attempt to tell her the truth about the modern world, motherhood is thus associated with illusion, deception, and control. This is confirmed by the fact that the “Free Mothers” is actually the front for the organization of foreign spies that seeks to eliminate Rowe, the “spy who knows too much,” and extract Britain’s military secrets.13 The espionage plot of Ministry is significantly affected by the wartime setting: Rowe and other Londoners are physically at risk due to the Blitz, but this risk is greatly enhanced by the presence of foreign spies. Rowe’s



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involvement in espionage escalates following his meeting with Hilfe and his sister, Anna—Austrian refugees who are ostensibly supporting the Allied war effort by raising funds for the Free Mothers. On meeting Anna Hilfe at the Free Mothers office in the Strand, Rowe is struck by her innocence, connecting her in his mind with his dead wife (33). Her brother—who “had the same fine features as the girl” (33)—admits to Rowe that “my sister and I are—technically—Austrian” (33); a nationality that inevitably links them, in this wartime novel, with Hitler (also Austrian by birth), as does their name which combines the first letters of the Führer’s last name and the closing syllable of his first.14 Yet the Hilfes are apparently working for the British war effort and outspokenly critical of Hitler. In an echo of earlier spy thrillers, Hilfe speaks near-perfect English. This recalls Hannay’s observation of the ability of German spies to blend almost perfectly into English society in The Thirty-Nine Steps. When he watches the suspected spies at Trafalgar House, Hannay notes “their chaff sounded horribly English” and—quoting “His very words”—concludes, “You couldn’t find anything much more English than that” (Thirty Nine, 116).15 Hilfe, however, openly admits his foreign status, though reminding Rowe “we’re allies now, you know” (36). Hilfe also lets slip a potentially incriminating remark that implicates him in espionage; offering to accompany Rowe to Mrs Bellairs for a séance, he boasts that they will have no trouble losing the private detective that Rowe has hired: “we must very gently drop him. I’m used to dropping spies. It’s a thing one has learned since 1933” (39). This reference to the year of Hitler’s accession to power might portray the Hilfes as victims of Nazi persecution, but might also imply that Hilfe was—or is—himself a German spy. Later Hilfe—in explaining why Rowe must hit him in order to make good his escape from Mrs Bellairs’ séance—refers to himself as “an enemy alien” (51). Due to their refugee status and similar physical appearance, the Hilfes— brother and sister—are inevitably linked together for the reader. Even when they begin to play separate roles—for example when Anna phones Rowe at Mrs Bellairs’s to warn him of a plot against him, suggesting that her brother is part of this plot—the two are insistently connected. This creates an ambiguity for the reader—as for Rowe—in trying to determine which, if either, of the Hilfes may be trusted. The air of uncertainty and ambiguity is a crucial feature of the novel’s atmosphere, and indeed a key trope of the “spy who knows too much” narrative.16 Greene follows Ambler in escalating this atmosphere of intrigue and suspicion to the point where it threatens the mental integrity of his protagonist. If sexual desire emerges as an irrational and dangerous impulse in Greene’s work, it is hardly surprising that sexuality works against the national interest and identity of the protagonist, creating a conflict between patriotism and

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the sex drive. Buchan’s Hannay has no such conflict, at least before Greenmantle. Therefore it is significant that the escalation in Rowe’s relationship with Anna occurs after he has lost his memory—indeed his identity—in the explosion at the hotel, where he has been duped into carrying a case with a bomb up to a man called “Travers.” On his first meeting with her, Rowe is struck by an uncanny resemblance between Anna and his deceased wife (34). It is in terms of voice, however, that Anna’s “foreignness” is most clearly registered. The implication is that women—the female gender—are alien to the male protagonist, and that Anna’s origin from a different—and officially hostile—nation symbolizes the gender divide. From Digby’s perspective, Anna is “only a thin pretty girl with reddish hair, a small girl… . She wasn’t, he felt certain, anybody he needed to fear” (100). The unsettling resemblance to his wife—which may have both sparked and suppressed Rowe’s attraction—has disappeared, chiefly because he no longer remembers the traumatic episode of Alice’s death. These sexual and psychic complications might seem far removed from the novel’s espionage plot. But in fact it is Greene’s contribution to the genre to formulate the spy plot in terms of desire and identity, its loss and recovery. This theme is also apparent in later spy novels by Greene, such as The Human Factor (1978) in which Castle believes that his love for his wife Sarah provides an escape from the treacherous world of espionage.17 For Rowe, although he is threatened by foreign spies, all the most important questions are those of identity: how he is perceived by others and how he sees himself. Yet, in a narrative sleight that is pure Greene, one of the crucial turning points has occurred before the story begins, during and immediately after his imprisonment: “When he came out of what wasn’t called a prison, when His Majesty’s pleasure had formally and quickly run its course, it had seemed to Rowe that he had emerged into quite a different world—a secret world of assumed names, of knowing nobody, of avoiding faces, of men who leave a bar unobtrusively when other people enter” (37). In other words, Rowe already “knows too much” about secrecy and deception, and has already been branded with a criminal sensibility. Hence, Rowe’s confinement at “His Majesty’s pleasure” has prepared him for his admission to the spy world of secrecy and duplicity. It is of course ambiguous, whether the outside world has changed, or Rowe has. As with Household’s Rogue Male—which underwent significant changes in Fritz Lang’s Man Hunt Lang’s 1944 film version of The Ministry of Fear introduces apparently minor yet quite significant changes to Greene’s novel. The film opens not at the village fête, but with the protagonist—renamed Stephen Neale (instead of Arthur Rowe)—awaiting his release from Lembridge Asylum. With this change the film strengthens the idea of the protagonist’s criminal guilt, establishing it in the viewer’s knowledge of Neale



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(Ray Milland) from the outset. The parting words from the director of the asylum are a warning: “don’t get involved with the police again in any way. A second charge wouldn’t be easy” (Ministry). This effectively places a shadow over Neale from the outset, warning him—and the viewer—that any further crime may result in prison. The fête that Neale attends—where he is told, as in the novel, the weight of the cake from the fortune teller—is held not in London but in Lembridge, near the train station, thus being part of Neale’s transition back to “civilization” from his incarceration in the rural asylum. Neale refers to himself as a “murderer,” creating a more heinous criminal identity than is the case in Greene’s novel. At Mrs Bellane’s séance (the character’s name is changed from Bellair), the hostess goes into a trance and speaks in the voice of Neale’s deceased wife, accusing him of having killed her (it is later revealed that she learned the story from the newspapers). This is more extensive than the counterpart scene in the novel (48) and again forces knowledge of Neale’s criminal complicity on the viewer’s consciousness. Neale later confesses his crime to Carla Hilfe, noting “I wasn’t mad you see, but the law called for it. I don’t know if I was right, even now” (Ministry). Lang’s film includes the scene in which Neale opens a suitcase allegedly full of books that he has brought to a strange apartment, and thus detonates a bomb inside the case. However, he returns to consciousness not in the sanitarium of Dr. Forester but in Scotland Yard, where he is greeted by Inspector Prentice. Unlike in Greene’s novel, the protagonist has not lost his memory and become an alter ego (Digby), but retains his original identity and awareness of his situation. In fact, the division in Greene’s novel between Rowe and Digby is eliminated from the film, whereas it provides the dual structure of the novel. Although Neale has forgotten that Carla was with him when the bomb exploded, he still identifies as Stephen Neale. He does not have to become a “new man” in order to become intimate with the attractive Carla Hilfe. Lang moreover provides a less ambivalent ending to the story, as Carla and Neale plan their future wedding without the kind of secrets and misgivings that afflict Rowe and Anna in Greene’s novel. Greene’s ability to expose a guilty, hidden world of intrigue lurking beneath an apparently normal or benign surface in some ways parallels the work of his contemporary and fellow-Catholic, Alfred Hitchcock. The Lady Vanishes—released in 1938—deploys the theme of a threat to a woman’s identity in a more complex way than the original Man Who Knew, due to the film’s allusion to the sexual guilt and ambivalence of female protagonist Iris (played by Margaret Lockwood). On a vacation in Europe (set in the fictional country of Mandrika) with friends, Iris ponders her engagement to be married to a man back in England, revealing that she is reluctant to take the role of wife. She has previously been portrayed as a spoiled, arrogant, privileged young woman who takes for granted her special treatment by the manager of

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the over-crowded hotel and attempts to have Gilbert (a musicologist played by Michael Redgrave) evicted from his room for making excessive noise. The events that follow may be read of symptoms of Iris’s guilt at her lack of desire for her fiancé, and her suppressed or disavowed attraction to Gilbert. Following a head injury caused by a falling object at the train station, she becomes attached to Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) who first takes care of her, then abruptly disappears from her compartment. Against the denials and skepticism of her fellow-passengers, Iris persists in investigating the mystery behind her “vanishing.” Miss Froy is, it transpires, a British spy, and so the change in Iris’s personality—as she acts with Gilbert to locate the missing Englishwoman—is connected to her involvement in espionage. This plot device anticipates the effect of a head injury on Rowe, in The Ministry of Fear, who also changes personality and becomes a spy as a result. Equally, Iris’s initial hostility towards Gilbert is transformed into love as they work together to expose the foreign spies that are trying to kidnap and eliminate Miss Froy. Hitchcock’s film significantly displaces the notion of the woman as “object” of the male gaze, by identifying the point of view strongly with Iris. This includes, as Leslie Brill points out, a point of view shot from Iris’s perspective “as she loses consciousness” (206). Yet the film’s use of Iris’s point of view also raises the link between espionage and the reliability of vision: that is, it asks can one believe what one sees, or does the trickery and deception surrounding espionage (like film) make all appearances deceptive and unreliable? Due to her head injury, Iris’s claim that she has seen Miss Froy can be dismissed by others—particularly the villainous Doctor Hartz who has actually kidnapped Miss Froy—as mere hallucinations. Iris’s determination to prove that she had actually seen Miss Froy on the train—that it is not a form of female hysteria produced by the head injury—is also a way to qualify her as a spy, as one capable of correctly interpreting visual signs and then acting on them. Due her persistence in asserting that Miss Froy was on the train—a fact that is mysteriously denied by everybody else—Iris becomes the spy who knows too much: a target for elimination by German spy Dr. Hartz (Paul Lucas). Her protective concern for the well-being of Miss Froy—she is initially the only passenger on the train who takes an interest in Froy’s disappearance—proves to be a vital contribution to the British war effort, as it allows Miss Froy to escape and carry her secret intelligence back to England. It also, however, is the basis for her new relationship with Gilbert, the only fellow passenger who believes she is telling the truth. Through their collaboration on the effort to find Miss Froy, the two come to share the belief in the reality of Iris’s perceptions. This also proves the cure for Iris’s sexual guilt over not desiring her fiancé. A scene near the end of the film shows Iris ducking into Gilbert’s taxi to avoid being seen by her waiting fiancé at



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the train station, thus finally confessing her sexual interest in her fellow spy. The final shot of the film shows the two being greeted by Miss Froy in a London house, confirming her role as the spy who formed the couple. Gilbert’s role as a spy who knew too much revolves around his task of remembering a measure of a musical piece that carries a secret message. He manages to remember the tune precisely until he arrives at his destination, where he is to deliver it. Up to the point he can deliver the musical code, he “knows too much” being burdened by the task of memory.18 However, he is relieved from this responsibility by the presence of Miss Froy, who is playing the tune as he and Iris enter the room. What significance is there in the fact that the role of the spy who knows too much in Hitchcock’s films is often taken by a woman? Hitchcock examines how the possession of dangerous knowledge places a female character in an entirely new and threatening situation. While the accidental spy may have no special training, he is often—like Richard Hannay—given the advantage of experience in a typical “masculine” field such as engineering or navigation. The female protagonists of Hitchcock have no such advantage, and often seem defined by their relationships and marriages. The conventions of femininity at the time also mean it is harder for women to protect themselves against scandal and attack. In this respect, we can see Miss Froy as a role model for Iris: an example of a woman who is not defined by marriage but has a vital role to play in the secret world, as a British spy. However, Hitchcock would later explore the darker side to the female spy who knows too much, and her implication in scandal and life-threatening danger. By complicating the plot with a classic honey-trap scenario in Notorious (1946), Hitchcock involves his protagonists in an espionage plot that is at once political—part of a postwar struggle against resurgent Nazism— and personal, involving a suppressed love between the two spies, Alicia Huberman and Devlin. The female protagonist of Notorious, Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) is the daughter of a Nazi spy, whose trial and conviction for treason we witness at the beginning of the film. Alicia is presumed guilty by association with her father, and is under surveillance by US intelligence due to her father’s betrayals (he was apparently a naturalized US citizen). Alicia is, as the film’s title proclaims, branded as notorious—yet she is also uniquely useful to the US, due to her close relationship to the Nazi organization to which her father belonged. On the one hand, her “knowing too much” is a liability, placing her under the scrutiny of the media and the intelligence organizations. On the other, it is an asset, that American agent Devlin exploits by convincing her to work for the US as a spy. There are, in effect, two differently gendered honey-traps in the film: the first is Devlin’s use of his sexual appeal to seduce Alicia into serving the US Secret Service. The second, orchestrated by Devlin

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and his boss, uses Alicia as sexual bait to lure a leading Nazi, Alex Sebastian, into giving away his organization’s secrets.19 In a scenario that echoes Greene’s spy novels, the protagonists undergo a sexual and moral awakening that leads them to play a role in espionage. Due to her growing attraction to Devlin, Alicia agrees to his invitation to work for the US. However, in a powerfully ironic twist, Alicia’s very notoriety is used to explain her renewal of interest in Alex Sebastian, a formerly rejected suitor. The US uses this past connection to forge a new relationship with Sebastian, who now lives in Rio de Janeiro where, American intelligence believes, he is the head of a German spy organization that may be attempting to build an atomic weapon. Alicia cannot be called an “accidental spy” for she is—like Arthur Rowe in The Ministry of Fear—already tainted by a close family relationship: in her case, with a wartime traitor. Hence, she is already implicated in espionage as the film begins. Devlin gives her the opportunity to redeem herself from the scandal of her father’s treason yet in doing so, he—and the American Intelligence organization—not only places her in great peril, but exploits her sexuality to make her desirable to Sebastian. Tania Modleski argues that in this film “the woman becomes an object of man’s sexual investigations” and, indeed, that “the term ‘notorious’ alludes primarily to the idea of woman as sexually known and therefore held in contempt” (Women Who Knew, 60). In other words, the US intelligence agents are confident of Alicia’s willingness to pursue a sexual relationship with a foreign spy, thereby equating her with a prostitute. As one of the team puts it, “I don’t think any of us are under any illusions about her character” (Notorious). Even Devlin, while he attempts to defend Alicia, becomes convinced that she is a “fallen woman” when she agrees to a sexual relationship with Sebastian. Hence, part of the film’s plot is that Devlin, who represents patriarchal authority, “submit[s] her to a process of purification whereby she is purged of her excess sexuality in order to be rendered fit for her place in the patriarchal order” (Modleski, 60). Yet at the same time, Devlin has to examine his own assumptions and recognize his love for the “notorious” woman, Alicia Huberman. One reading of the film, indeed, is that this sexual plot of a woman’s fall and redemption by a man is the “real” story of Notorious, preempting the spy plot which serves merely as a backdrop or even distraction. Donald Spoto, for example, argues that “Although Notorious seems to be a spy melodrama, in fact it is not. The espionage activities are really Hitchcock’s MacGuffin, his ubiquitous pretext for more serious, abstract issues” (cited in Modleski, 62). Spoto’s contentious assumption is that questions of espionage cannot be “serious” or “abstract” but are merely a form of popular entertainment or “melodrama.” By contrast, he claims that the “serious issue” consists of “one of common humanity—the possibility of love and trust redeeming two lives



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from fear, guilt and meaninglessness’” (cited Modleski, 62). The assumption that a spy story can only be “melodrama” rather than a serious genre, is of course part of the reason why spy fiction has not received the close critical attention it deserves. Yet in this case, I would argue, Spoto’s claim that “espionage activities” are peripheral to the film is quite misleading. The whole context of the film, from the opening scene of Huberman’s conviction, is based on wartime fears about espionage from within, focusing on the threat of the traitor. Alicia’s relationship with Devlin is based on his recruitment and training of her as an agent. Moreover, it is only through her willingness to work as a spy that Alica grows close to Devlin, and that her redemption becomes possible. The timing of the film’s release—the year after the end of World War II—reflects the continuing anxiety about the possibility a resurgent Nazi war effort. Interestingly, it is Devlin’s failings as an agent that leads to Alicia’s calamitous exposure as an American agent. Despite being a professional spy, Devlin commits some basic errors of tradecraft. For example, when investigating Sebastian’s wine cellar—following up a clue provided by Alicia—he accidentally breaks one of the wine bottles containing uranium ore, and clumsily cleans up the mess in such a way that Sebastian easily discovers the subterfuge. As a result, Sebastian realizes that his organization has been penetrated; he later notices the missing wine-cellar key that Alicia has extracted from his key ring. Sebastian then confesses to his mother that “I am married to an American agent” (Notorious) and seeks his mother’s help—Mrs Sebastian is another example of the domineering mother in Hitchcock’s films—as they determine to eliminate Alicia by poisoning her coffee. From the Nazis’ point of view, Alicia knows too much because she has discovered the secret preparations for an atomic weapon (the uranium). She can only be saved when Devlin admits the strengths of his feelings for Alicia, and rescues her from the Sebastian house. This now leaves Sebastian himself as the spy who knows too much—having kept Alicia’s treachery a secret—and as the film ends we assume that he will be eliminated by his own organization. Notorious contains a mixture of professional spies, such as Devlin and Sebastian, and talented amateurs such as Alicia.20 Arguably, Alicia (as an untrained amateur) should never have been placed in a life-threatening situation by US intelligence, which occurs when she offers to accept Sebastian’s proposal of marriage. It is only because she is morally compromised—a spy who knows too much—that US intelligence feels justified in risking her life. By the time Hitchcock made NNW the professional spy had become an increasingly important figure in the Cold War era. Indeed, although the protagonist of this film may be classed as an accidental spy (as discussed in chapter, 2), the infrastructure of professional espionage has become more determining of the story (such as the Professor’s role in the American

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Intelligence Agency). In some ways NNW returns to the plot of Notorious, in which the morally compromised woman agrees to use her sexual power over a sinister foreign spy (in this case, Vandamm) in order to “do something worthwhile” and can only be redeemed by a loving man. The fact that the male lead in both films is played by Cary Grant, adds to the impression of the recurrence of this scenario. However, in the later film the man is in need of redemption no less than the woman, and is arguably less well prepared for espionage than his female counterpart. Yet the influence of NNW on the James Bond films is some indication of how the professional spy has taken over the genre by the late 1950s. The first Bond film appeared in 1962, only three years after Hitchcock’s masterpiece of espionage, while the second Bond film—FRWL (1963)—owes an obvious debt to NNW with its extended sequence on a train (including the romantic liaison between the spy and a beautiful female agent) and its attack from the air—a replay of Hitchcock’s famous crop-dusting sequence—in which Bond, now in possession of the Lektor decoding machine is attacked by a helicopter while he is exposed in open country. However, “the spy who knows too much”—though he or she is usually an amateur—does not become obsolete with the increasing dominance of the professional spy in espionage fiction and film. Rather, this figure resurfaces in ways that intriguingly reflect the historical changes in espionage and shifts in popular culture during the Cold War. One particular version—the man who is mysteriously and abruptly abducted for reasons unknown to him, and who is in a constant state of confusion about his location as well as the identities of his friends and enemies—is represented by the successful British TV series of the late 1960s, The Prisoner. Created by Patrick McGoohan—who stars in the title role—and script editor George Markstein, the original series of The Prisoner ran from 1967– 1968, offering an intriguing (at times satirical) commentary on the Bond films released during the same period. For whereas Bond is defined by a radical kind of freedom—the “licence to kill,” the global travel and adventures in a series of exotic locations, sexual liaisons with beautiful women—the Prisoner (referred to in the series as Number 6, his prison identity) is marked by a no-less extreme form of confinement, indeed incarceration. For despite the superficially attractive features of the Village—the idyllic-seeming seaside prison camp in which he is held, the location of which is undisclosed—there is no doubt, from the first episode, that Number 6 is there against his will. He is there, as the frequently replaced head of the Village, Number 2, reiterates, because “we want information.” The obvious objection to placing The Prisoner in this category is that, unlike the other spies who know too much discussed in this chapter, he has the background of a professional agent. Toby Miller has pointed out that



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the series plays on the problematic notion of the spy “retiring,” due to the fact that McGoohan himself had recently “retired” from another TV spy series, Danger Man (aka Secret Agent). As Miller argues, “Retirement is relevant … when the actor Patrick McGoohan transforms himself, when there is seepage from one espionage programme to another and when someone in secret governmental or intergovernmental employ terminates his or her services” (Spyscreen, 96). Miller also notes that the “back-story” involving the Prisoner’s resignation from the Secret Service “appears to be explained in The Prisoner’s credits sequence, a bravura blend of jump cuts and lightning wipes” (Spyscreen, 96). It is indeed tempting to interpret the series as an enigmatic sequel to McGoohan’s previous venture, Danger Man, in which the actor plays a Secret Service agent, John Drake. Danger Man aired on TV between 1960–1962 and again from 1964–1966. This theory of a sequel has the merit of filling in some of the mysterious blanks about the Prisoner’s history, but there is no conclusive internal evidence in the series itself that the characters are the same, and McGoohan always denied a shared identity of Drake and Number 6. However, George Markstein—who worked on both series—claimed that the two characters were the same man, and that The Prisoner was a sequel to Danger Man. There is an important metafictional dimension here: Markstein conceived of the idea for The Prisoner when McGoohan resigned from Danger Man. In the opening sequence of each episode of The Prisoner, in which we see the protagonist resigning from his position, the man to whom he delivers his letter of resignation is played by Markstein (who was not a professional actor). In other words, the opening primal scenario of the series mirrors the actual circumstances of its creation. In an interesting parallel with Len Deighton’s early novels (though not the films based on them), we never learn the protagonist’s real name. We watch him drive (in a customized Lotus sports car) to his office, march down a long corridor, and have a furious encounter with his boss—a kind of silent “C” figure—during which he slams a letter of resignation on his desk. On the wall in the background we see a map of the world, visually suggesting that this may be the Foreign Office, a frequent cover for British espionage activities. We then see his letter being deposited by a mechanical arm into a filing cabinet drawer labeled “Resigned.” As he drives back to his London apartment, he is followed by a man at the wheel of a hearse and as the Prisoner packs his suitcase—apparently intending to go on an exotic vacation—this “undertaker” pipes gas into the apartment, making the Prisoner unconscious.21 When he awakes, he finds himself apparently still in his apartment until he goes to his window and sees the view of a kind of holiday camp, a far cry from the London setting he was in when he lost consciousness. He has arrived in the prison camp known as “The Village” (filmed in Portmeirion, Wales—though this actual location is not revealed until the last episode).

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Yet apart from this opening sequence to each episode, The Prisoner TV series makes scant reference to the spy’s activities in his previous life. The only things that matter about Number 6’s previous job are that it was in a highly classified field, and that he resigned from it without providing an explanation to his superiors. Hence, he is a spy who knows too much, and the sole purpose of Number 2 (the head of the prison camp, who is played by a different actor in each episode) is to try to extract this information, reiterating the question “why did you resign?” (The Prisoner). In the first episode, “The Arrival,” the Prisoner explores his surroundings and tries to identify his location, before his first meeting with Number 2. From this point, the Prisoner will be identified in the program as “Number 6” (despite his furious protests that “I am not a number! I am a free man!”22) The series has two main plot devices: the first is the determined efforts by a series of Commanders of the camp to extract “information” from Number 6. As each Number 2 fails in this task—proving unable to break the Prisoner’s resistance—he is replaced by another head of the camp. Several famous actors were recruited for the role of Number 2, including Guy Doleman and Leo McKern. They (whoever runs the Village) appear convinced that the Prisoner was planning to defect to the “other side,” though it is never decisively determined which “side” is in fact holding him captive. One effect of this ambiguity is that it doesn’t matter which side of the “Iron curtain” the Prisoner is held in, because both sides are essentially the same. As Wesley Britton observes, “The Prisoner dealt with a covert world in which good vs evil dichotomies were rarely cut-and-dried, and … the West’s motives and actions were no different than the opposition” (Beyond, 118). The population of the Village is “international,” no maps of the outer world are available, and the Prisoner tries in vain to find out why the fellowprisoners are being detained there. It is possible that the Soviet bloc has kidnapped him and wants to extract information, though it seems more likely that the Prisoner simply knows too much to be let free. He refuses to explain his resignation and insists that he will not provide the “information” required. This demonstrates the Prisoner’s resistance to interrogation, but more broadly is an existential commentary on his determination to protect his own freedom in an industrial, capitalist society. As Toby Miller puts it, the Prisoner is invested in “the search for self in an era of big corporations and governments” which can be recoded as “the straight white male’s imperious hunt for character and authority, his ‘birthright’” (Spyscreen, 102). The other central plot device of the series involves the Prisoner’s repeated attempts to escape from the Village and return home. From the moment he arrives at the Village, the Prisoner is relentless in his determination to escape. Although Number 2 constantly encourages the Prisoner to accept his situation and settle in to the community, he refuses to comply. He makes several



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ingenious attempts to escape, and sometimes comes very close to doing so. In one pivotal episode, “The Chimes of Big Ben,” Number 6 has assistance from an Eastern European woman who works as a maid in his apartment and leaves the Village with her by an elaborate series of transport methods, including boat and truck, where he is concealed in a large wooden crate.23 At the end of his “journey,” the Prisoner finds himself in the office of his former employer, presumably the Foreign Office in London, where he is greeted by former colleagues that he apparently recognizes. As he is about to explain—finally—why he resigned from the service, the Prisoner notices that the number of chimes from Big Ben does not agree with the time on his watch, which he has reset to UK time. He thereby discovers the elaborate ruse: that a replica of the office has been constructed, complete with taped soundtrack of the London traffic background, to lure him into his confession. He thus narrowly averts revealing the reasons for his resignation, yet his escape attempt has failed. The episode ends with the Prisoner walking out of the “office,” back into the village, as the woman who assisted him is revealed to be one of “them.” His eternal vigilance prevents him from falling into the trap set by his captors. This episode suggests that “they” are always one step ahead of the Prisoner, able to anticipate and exploit his obsession with returning to his home country. One might suggest that the Prisoner should have been more skeptical of the familiar office from the outset, as his apartment in the village is an exact replica of his former home in London. The episode sends mixed signals about the identity of the Prisoner’s captors. His former employers are in on the deception, which supports the theory that his own organization is holding him captive. There is also a more disturbing possibility: that the upper echelons of the Secret Services of both sides of the Cold War are in cahoots, running a joint prison camp that serves as a receptacle for all their agents who “know too much.” Ultimately, the secrecy about the identity of the Prisoner’s captors reinforces the point that it doesn’t matter which side has kidnapped him: their methods are much the same, and both societies are waging war against the individual. Toby Miller objects that the Prisoner, though apparently supposed to represent the individual oppressed by bureaucratic society, is not really a representative figure: “McGoohan is perennially dressed like an ‘Old Boy’ of a British public school, annoyed by his predicament but ever-ready on release to go punting down the Cam or pad up at the Parks” (Spyscreen, 102–3). This objection points to the persistence of the idea of espionage as a “game” played by upper-class public school boys for their own amusement, rather than a serious matter of national security. Certainly, the emphasis of the series is on the individual’s quest for liberty, rather than a collective social good or national interest. It is for this very reason, though, that Number 6 is a prime example of “the spy who knows too much,” in that he is not motivated by patriotism or

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duty but by his own personal survival, the preservation of his identity against the forces that want him to conform or breakdown. Perhaps one of the most chilling revelations of the series is that the Prisoner is only valuable—is only desired as a “commodity” in the world of “all-knowledge-based, post-industrial labour” (Miller, 102)–as long as he keeps his motives secret. The paradox is that “they” want the prisoner because he has “information” but, as soon as he discloses that information, he would lose his value. Hence, neither the Prisoner nor the viewer can trust the authorities to release him should he finally capitulate and reveal what he knows. It seems more likely that he will be exterminated or kept permanently in the Village. As the Prisoner realizes, then, it is the sensitive and secret nature of the “information” he possesses, that keeps him alive and (relatively) safe: he “knows too much” to be set free. When a senior member of the medical staff—a stiff-necked man in a white coat—seeks to apply more “extreme” methods (some form of drug treatment) to break Number 6’s will, Number 2 intervenes, insisting that “I want him intact.” While Number 2 is the immediate boss—who changes from episode to episode—there is also a “Number 1”, the ultimate authority, who is never shown and whose identity is never revealed. He is represented only by the red telephone on Number 2’s desk, which he uses to communicate with his superior. When, in “Free for All,” Number 6 agrees, reluctantly, to run for election to the position of Number 2, a strong incentive for winning is that he will get to discover the identity of Number 1. He is surprised that there is any semblance of any democratic process in the village. However, this much-anticipated meeting with Number 1 never occurs: for having won the election, Number 6 attempts to free all the prisoners and is then caught and arrested. His efforts to learn the location of the Village are futile, due to the fact that maps available in the Village only show the immediate vicinity; there are only local phone calls; and the taxis refuse to travel beyond the borders of the Village. The series clearly parodies the significance of numbers within the James Bond franchise, in which Bond is known by a number, 007, while the members of the enemy terrorist organization SPECTRE are each identified by a numeral indicating their place in the hierarchy. Number 1 in SPECTRE remains faceless and nameless until YOLT (1967) when he is shown and identified as Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played by Donald Pleasance). Also like the Bond films, The Prisoner places a strong emphasis on surveillance and voyeurism, as Number 2 controls and frequently visits a central room with screens everywhere, where his employees spy on the inhabitants of the Village. Britton claims “The Prisoner showed electronic observers in statues and trees as a cautionary fable about the dangers of a ‘Big Brother’ government” (Beyond, 198). Indeed, the Village is representative of the Panoptic system of modern society, discussed by Michel Foucault in Discipline and



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Punish. However, it could equally be argued that the series critiques the spectator-society, in which citizenship is determined by watching screens. Though the Village in some ways resembles a Panopticon, in which prisoners are observed in their “cells” from a central surveillance station, in practice the boundary between prisoners and captors is not always this clear. Members of the Village spy on each other, and there are a number of quislings, “guardians” posing as prisoners. One intriguing issue raised by the series is the role of the viewer: as viewing is equated with voyeurism, The Prisoner is in effect a satire on the TV-based society, thereby critiquing the very medium in which it operates. Number 6 himself may be a surrogate for the viewer, an “everyman” who is relentlessly watched, managed, and controlled by the powers that be. Toby Miller, however, notes “the mute dwarf butler, the only omnipresent character apart from the protagonist, stands in for the audience. He is ‘the little man,’ a quietly desperate … figure who feels powerless in the face of bureaucratic rationality” (Spyscreen, 103). Where the Prisoner remains mute in the face of demands for information, the butler is mute in every episode, yet is also clearly complicit with the power structure of the Village, serving the various occupants of Number 2’s mansion.24 The scenario is somewhat different in the novel The Prisoner, based on the TV series, written by the science fiction author Thomas M. Disch and published in 1967. Like the series, the novel is somewhat episodic in structure. However, it begins with a scene before the Prisoner’s capture, in which he is having dinner with his girlfriend, Liora, at the Connaught hotel in London. Here they discuss his departure from the Secret Service: however, he has not resigned but “retired,” though his reason, as he describes to Liora, is “a secret I’ve tucked away in my dresser drawer, behind my stockings” (6). The Prisoner announces his intention to move to the Pembroke Coast in Wales, and in fact will be leaving that evening. The switch from resignation to retirement is significant: it lessens the idea of a conflict with his superiors. The Prisoner is not abducted from his London flat, but kidnapped while on the train to Wales: he is spied on by a conductor, and a gas mask is placed on his face, rendering him unconscious (13). Disch’s novel includes several moments of foreshadowing of the Prisoner’s fate: the table at which he dines with Liora is “table-6” (9) and, arriving at Paddington, “He walked with his two bags towards Gate 6” (12). The number six, then, is presciently inscribed in the protagonist’s life before he arrives at the Village. The scene at the Connaught proves significant, for he will later encounter Liora again, in the Village, where she is known as Number 14. He will attempt to call Liora at “COVentry-6121,” the telephone number she gave him, and finds himself speaking instead to someone in a bookstore, Better Books. He assumes that the person on the line is an employee of the bookstore, and asks her to help him connect to the right number. However, he

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will later discover that he was speaking to Liora, who happened to be at the bookstore for a reading, and happened to answer the phone. These strands of predestination run throughout Disch’s novel, suggesting that the control over events extends beyond the Prisoner’s captivity. Another important difference in Disch’s novel, is that Prisoner ultimately discovers the identity of Number 1. It is an old woman, a “Granny,” who had previously seemed an insignificant, harmless presence. Liora—now Number 14, a psychologist at the Village—prevents the Prisoner’s mind from being erased (though she has told him that Number 6 “will soon no longer exist” [207] and that instead, he will be remade into the new Number 2). She also explains to him the chilling philosophy of the Camp and its masters: “We humans are at root, Number 2, very simple creatures. Like the computers we’ve fashioned in our image, we operate on a binary code of pleasure and pain, a switch marked ON and another marked OFF. Finally, everything can be reduced to one or the other” (211). The human being, then, is like a television. In discovering the identity of Number 1, the Prisoner also penetrates the fraudulence of the Village, especially the deification of Number 1, its “worshipful orbit about the sun of that exalted idea: One, Oneness, Number 1” (209). The deified Number 1 turns out to be a seemingly decrepit granny, who is actually a hybrid of human and machine. When the Prisoner struggles with her, “with a dry snap her hand broke off at the wrist. Her mouth gaped, and she uttered a cry… . The hand on the white floor slowly spread open its finger. They could both see, where the skin had been grayed at the knuckles by the buttonhook, the tangle of tubes and wires that had made it work.” (235). Like the Wizard of Oz, Number 1 is revealed to be a fraud that can be easily destroyed. McGoohan’s series presents a dystopian vision of Western consumer society, in which all foodstuffs, amenities, and social support systems are provided by the State (aka the Village), but at the expense of individual freedom and independence. It is Orwellian in conception but unlike Orwell’s 1984—written in shortage-plagued postwar Britain where rationing still prevailed, and reflecting a society of material scarcity—the Village is a place of comfort in which all material needs are provided for. However, the series is less a critique of the Welfare State than an attack on any large organization or bureaucratic system that demands conformity and compliance.25 In the context of espionage, the relevance of the series is that it demonstrates the impossibility of the spy “retiring” or resigning: having entered the secret world, it is impossible to ever leave it. It is less a career than an identity, or even an indentureship: a permanent commitment to a way of life that requires obedience and secrecy. The ambiguity concerning the identity of the captors—whether British, American, or Soviet bloc—supports the idea that both systems fear the possibility of the individual spy leaving the “system.” Even



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during an era in which the professional spy was becoming increasingly technologized, with signals intelligence (or SIGINT) arguably more important than human intelligence (or HUMINT), The Prisoner depicted a resourceful individual using primitive methods to evade a highly technologically advanced, bureaucratized power system.26 The series insisted that espionage is not like other professions, in that one may not choose it and cannot leave it. This social and political commentary makes the Prisoner a distinctive and dystopian contribution to the “spy who knows too much.” The premise of The Prisoner—that Britain would arrange for the imprisonment of its own agents in order to prevent them revealing what they know or, still worse, defecting to the other side—might seem far-fetched, pushing the series away from realism towards science fiction. However, the scenario has a strong basis in fact. In July 1940, to further the British war effort, Winston Churchill formed a Special Operations Executive (SOE) whose purpose was to collaborate with and complement the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Where the latter organization’s function was intelligence gathering—using covert means wherever possible—the former’s purpose was to carry out attacks and sabotage against Germany and German-occupied Europe. Churchill’s bellicose brief to the chief of SOE, Hugh Dalton, was “Now set Europe ablaze” (Knightley, 110). Phillip Knightley states that the recruits to SOE had “a dangerously romantic conception of what they were about” (122) more influenced by the novels of John Buchan than actual political reality. SOE was so obsessed with secrecy that it devised a method to make sure those recruits that failed to make the grade would not be able to reveal their knowledge of the organization. The Home Defence (Security) Executive—consisting of SIS, SOE, MI5, and the Home Office—therefore devised a prison camp for those who knew too much to be released before the war’s conclusion (Knightley, 123). The site chosen was Inverlair Lodge, in Inverness-shire, Scotland, where the washed-out SOE recruits lived in relative comfort (Knightley, 123). This curiously disturbing arrangement has obvious parallels with the situation in The Prisoner. Though held captive, Number 6 lives in an exact replica of his posh London flat, has maid service, and is offered numerous amenities of life by the Village, including invitations to participate in arts and crafts. On his escape to London, in “Many Happy Returns,” one of his former employers quips, on seeing a photograph of the Village: “I wouldn’t mind spending a couple of weeks there myself” (The Prisoner). Of course, the Village’s actual location in a holiday camp reinforces this dystopian concept of enforced leisure. But the idea of a camp whose purpose is not to punish prisoners, but to prevent them from revealing information and keep them in comfort, is not as fantastic as it first seems. McGoohan has emphasized this real basis for the premise of the series. In a TV Guide interview—when The Prisoner began to be broadcast on US

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TV—he stated, “What do you do with defectors, or with people who have top-secret knowledge of the highest order and who, for one reason or another, want out? Do you shoot them? I know there are places where these people are kept. Not voluntarily, and in absolute luxury. There are three in this country—let someone deny it! I know about them because I know someone who used to be associated with the service” (cited in Britton, Beyond Bond, 118). However, despite this “absolute luxury” of the Village, there are frequent sinister reminders of the extreme limits on freedom for those in the camp, and the draconian powers of their captors: firstly the threats of Number 2, that they have “methods” for getting the information they want by force. In the course of the series, Number 2 uses hallucinogenic drugs and dream control (“A, B, C”), identity theft (“The Schizoid Man”) and other extreme measures to extract the secret information from Number 6. As a further threat, the Village is patrolled by strange huge white “balloons”—known as Rover— that burst from the sea and pursue any inmate who attempts to escape. Rover either recaptures or even apparently kills the fugitives by suffocation: scenes using a disturbing imagery of birth/death that connects to the Village as a nightmare of authoritarian control. Rover, however, is a last resort, brought into play only during an “Orange alert” when a prisoner breaches the boundaries of the village. In this facility, we see men riding on roving “cameras” and images of the village and its inhabitants projected on large screens on the wall. In addition, there are hidden cameras placed throughout the village—indoors and outside, in statues and other landscaping features—making for a system of near-total surveillance. If Number 6—or any other prisoner—attempts to escape, or even strays too far from the permitted area, there is an alert system (yellow, orange, etc.) which sends guards out to capture the miscreant or—as a last resort—activate Rover. In their obsessive quest for “information,” the Village administrators are constantly vigilant in their observation of the inmates. Yet there are blind spots—occasionally Number 6 is able to escape the gaze of the cameras, for example when he builds a boat, or takes refuge in a cave. Such evasions are temporary. A more effective “escape,” is the inner sanctum of Number 6’s mind: his reasons and motives are not visible to the cameras or the guardians, no matter how much time they spent on training him. As will be evident, The Prisoner is not a straightforward spy thriller. It combines espionage with social satire and a dystopian brand of science fiction. Number 6 does little active espionage in the series—apart from prying around Number 2’s domain, trying to determine the location of the Village, and establishing which of his fellow-villagers are actually “guardians”—yet he emerges as a master of deception who can play various roles to lure his captors into thinking he is collaborating. The Prisoner is also highly skilled at detecting the enemy in his midst: because a number of “guardians” are



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planted amongst the prisoners, to spy on them and report any plots of subversion or escape, it becomes very difficult for the real prisoners to know whom they can trust or confide in about any plans for a breakout. This may be a common practice in prisoner-of-war camps, but it has an added edge in The Prisoner, due to the suspenseful context of espionage. The difficulty of discriminating between enemy-spies and friends, offers a parallel to the presence of enemy spies within the British Secret Service—such as the “Cambridge Five”—who were undermining the organization from within. In The Prisoner, they are a kind of fifth column, living like the other Prisoners but actually working for the enemy. In one episode, the Prisoner—who is planning escape with another man—devises a crafty method for telling the difference between the guardians and the real prisoners. This technique involves pretending to be a guardian himself, adopting an assertive, domineering attitude—for example, by criticizing the work of one of the inmates. By the reaction of the inmate—either submissive or defiant—the Prisoner can identify the guardians from the captives. Such methods reveal the Prisoner’s training in espionage, deception, and other aspects of spy craft that reinforce the notion that he is a professional. In some ways, the central questions posed by the series—Why did the Prisoner resign from his job? Which side is keeping him a prisoner?—function like the MacGuffin in Hitchcock’s films. They are of great importance to the characters, defining their actions and attitudes, but the viewer doesn’t know and doesn’t need to know: they remain an empty secret, whose content is less important than their function. What matters, for the viewer, is that the Prisoner is being held against his will, and that he is determined to resist interrogation and, ultimately, to escape. To an extent the attitude of the Prisoner resembles Graham Greene’s sentiments in a speech entitled “The Virtue of Disloyalty” given in 1969: “If we enlarge the bounds of sympathy in our readers we succeed in making the work of the State a degree more difficult. That is a genuine duty we owe society, to be a piece of grit in the state machinery” (Greene, “Virtue,” 526–7). The Prisoner’s stubborn retention of his secret becomes symbolic of the individual’s struggle against a dominating society, a will to preserve some aspect of individual identity against a bureaucratic order that is only interested in the control of the “masses.” It is not what the Prisoner knows, so much as his insistence on keeping it to himself and so asserting his freedom that determines his oppositional role. The Prisoner becomes an existential hero, whose identity is based on an act of negation: a stubborn refusal to share his secret knowledge (his identity) with those in authority. Yet, paradoxically, what at first seems like passive resistance is transformed into an act of complicity. If the Prisoner seeks a negative freedom—freedom from invasion of his privacy by the State—he also seeks a positive freedom, to go and do as he pleases. Yet it is only the Prisoner’s resistance that allows

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Number 2 to assert and expand his power. The Prisoner refuses to accept his condition, or to see it as anything other than enforced incarceration. The persistence of the spy who knew too much in the Cold War period can also be illustrated by the fact that Alfred Hitchcock chose to remake his 1934 film in the 1950s, after his move to Hollywood. As NNW gave a Cold War facelift to the accidental spy plot structure introduced in The Thirty-Nine Steps, so Hitchcock’s 1955 version of MWKTM demonstrates the postwar evolution of the amateur spy whose innocence is compromised in some way. It is not simply that the later version of MWKTM uses major Hollywood stars, more exotic locations, and exploits the vast technical resources of the Hollywood studio system. It also Americanizes the story by having the threatened family originate in the US. Hitchcock’s film begins with an epigraph, “A single crash of Cymbals and how it rocked the lives of an American family”—thus placing the American family unit at the narrative center, of more importance than the potential political crisis that would result from the assassination in London. The McKennas—Ben, a doctor, Jo, a former Broadway star, and their son, Hank—are vacationing in Morocco after Ben has attended a medical conference in Paris. On the bus to Marrakesh, Hank accidentally tears the veil from a woman’s face, causing tension with her husband. The conflict is resolved by the intervention of a man, Louis Bernard, who speaks Arabic and English fluently. After asking Ben many questions, he offers to take the McKennas to dinner in town, and joins them for cocktails later in their hotel room. Following a visit to the room by a strange man, Bernard says he has pressing business and cannot accompany the couple to dinner. At the restaurant, the McKennas encounter an English couple, the Draytons, who recognize Jo from her success on stage. While dining with the Draytons, the McKennas notice Louis Bernard arriving at the same restaurant in the company of an attractive woman and are offended at his snubbing them. The following day, the McKennas attend the market with the Draytons, enjoying the entertainments. Noticing the police pursuing an Arab man, the American couple are surprised when the pursued man staggers towards Ben. This man turns out to be Louis Bernard, disguised as an Arab, and has been stabbed in the back. With his dying words, Bernard whispers to Ben that there is a plot to assassinate a statesman in London, and instructs Ben to tell his people in London to look for “Ambrose Chapel.” The police ask Ben to go to the station to answer questions, and Mrs Drayton offers to take Hank back to the hotel so that Jo can accompany her husband. While being interrogated by the police at the station, Ben receives a phone call warning him to keep Bernard’s message secret or harm will be done to his son. Ben then discovers that the Draytons have kidnapped Hank and checked out of their hotel. Before telling Jo this news, he gives her a sedative against her will.



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The McKennas arrive in London in pursuit of their kidnapped son, and refuse to cooperate with the Special Branch officer, Buchanan, who offers to help them find Hank if Ben reveals what he knows. The remainder of the film deals with the McKennas’ discovery that the Draytons are hiding out in a place of worship, Ambrose Chapel, and that they are organizing the assassination plot at the Royal Albert Hall. They had been in Marrakesh to recruit the assassin. In the climactic scene at the Albert Hall, Jo prevents the assassination by screaming, thus distracting the shooter who misses the target. Ben then grapples with the assassin, who falls to his death. However, the Draytons still have Hank, having taken refuge in the foreign embassy whose ambassador had plotted to kill his own Prime Minister. Inviting themselves to the embassy to receive thanks from the PM for saving his life, the McKennas succeed in finding Hank who whistles along to the song sung by his mother: “Que Sera Sera.” Drayton, who attempts to leave the embassy by holding Ben and Hank at gunpoint, is overcome by Ben in a struggle and accidentally shoots himself as he falls down the stairs. Along with the changes to national identity and location, we can observe significant shifts in the gender politics of the later version. The kidnapped daughter of 1934—whose perspective is key to the film—is replaced by a son in 1955, whose point of view is rather more peripheral. Only in the first scene in which he pulls the veil from the Muslim woman’s face and the late scene where Hank whistles along to his mother’s singing—allowing Ben to locate him in the embassy—does Hank play a significant role. The female protagonist’s role is also altered. Although Jo McKenna’s career is also an issue in the film—as a former stage and musical star her fame eclipses that of her husband Ben, a medical doctor—Hitchcock places the male protagonist more squarely at the center of the film. Arguably, the narrative of female sexual guilt and maternal irresponsibility (1934) is displaced by one in which the American man seeks to protect his patriarchal legacy (the son) as well as redeem the Anglo-American “special relationship” under threat during the Cold War, following the high profile spy scandals of SIS in the 1950s. Instead of St. Moritz, the location of the opening scenes of 1955s MWKTM is moved to Morocco, where the American McKenna family is on vacation. The film thus offers a deeper cultural divide between the vacationing family and their host nation, as reflected in the early flashpoint of cultural conflict as Hank removes the veil from the Muslim woman on the bus. Unlike in 1934, there is no hint of flirtation between the mother and Bernard, who shows far more interest in Ben’s professional activities, while Jo is suspicious of Bernard’s intrusive questions. Due to Hitchcock’s extreme close-up shot, there is an almost homoerotic intimacy to the scene where Louis Bernard whispers his secret in Ben’s ear. In effect, Ben will risk his son’s life in order to protect the dying man’s secret. The Draytons—who claim prior knowledge of

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Jo McKenna’s stage career, and exploit the “English-speakers abroad” bond with the McKennas—are key to the film’s exploitation of Cold War political anxieties about espionage. Reflecting the Cold War American suspicion of Britain in the wake of the Cambridge spy scandal—Burgess and Maclean who defected to Moscow in 1951 had both been posted to Washington, D.C.—the duplicity of the Draytons makes them (rather than the French assassin) the key villains of the film. Apparently friendly and benign, the British couple is in fact the malevolent center of the enemy spy ring. That they use Ambrose Chapel as a base and exploit Mr. Drayton’s role as a priest as cover for their espionage—giving a sermon on adversity to his parishioners—adds a hostile critique of organized religion to the spy plot. The 1955 version preserves the earlier film’s assassination plot, the kidnapping of the family’s child, and the base of the enemy spy ring in a church. The political plot itself surely qualifies as a MacGuffin in Hitchcock’s film. The specific nationality of the intended target is never revealed—the sign on the foreign embassy where the Draytons take refuge is blocked from view— and the political purpose of the plot is not disclosed. Only late in the film does it emerge that the ambassador of the foreign nation is behind the plot to assassinate his own Prime Minister. Buchanan’s comment on the plot— “liquidating one of their own bigwigs. I wish they’d follow the usual practice and do it in their own country” MWKTM—dismisses the assassination as a source of inconvenience to the British police rather than a serious threat to international security. Yet the most significant change made by Hitchcock in 1955 is to the role and persona of Ben McKenna, the father. Unlike his 1934 predecessor, Ben shows aggression (in wanting to confront Louis Bernard), initiative (in going to London), and represents patriarchal control in sedating his wife against her wishes. Despite his significant mistakes—such as going to visit a taxidermist in Camden called “Ambrose Chapel,” leaving his wife to figure out that Ambrose Chapel “isn’t a man, it’s a place”—Ben is the strong anchor of the McKenna family. Significantly, at the climactic scene in the Albert Hall, we have extended shots of Jo McKenna suffering emotional trauma, crying as she decides whether to risk her son’s life by alerting the police. Ultimately, her act of screaming is effective in causing the assassin to miss his target, but it is Ben who physically pursues and confronts the killer. Again, although Jo plays a key role in locating their son in the embassy by singing “Que Sera Sera”—instigating a “call and response” between mother and son—it is Ben, rather than Jo, who actually rescues their son and kills his captor. The later film retains the central dilemma—that Ben McKenna must choose between revealing what he knows to the authorities and protecting his son’s life—but the dilemma is more focused on Ben rather than Jo. At one point she chastises him “You act as though you’re the only one who’s concerned about him”



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MWKTM. But in fact Ben’s act of giving her sedatives against her consent, reinforces his paternal dominance and control of the film’s plot. As in earlier versions of this type of spy narrative, the role of the one who “knows too much” is transferrable between characters. Initially of course it is Ben McKenna who “knows too much,” having been told the secret of the assassination plot by Louis Bernard. His refusal to share this knowledge with the police, establishes him as a lone agent who will try to reclaim his son on his own (or with only Jo’s assistance). If this knowledge places Ben in danger, it is also a source of empowerment: he knows more than his wife, more than the police, and it is this knowledge that defines him as protagonist. Yet as with earlier variations, Ben’s position is compromised. His wife is more famous and beloved than he is, despite the fact that he is the family breadwinner. A brief conversation between the McKenna’s at the Marrakesh market suggests that she hopes for another child, indicating a lack in their family structure. Indeed, the fact that Hank is their only child arguably makes them especially vulnerable to blackmail. Eventually, the son becomes the one who “knows too much” and the ambassador demands that he be “removed” from the embassy in such a way as he cannot reveal what he knows. This instruction to kill Hank is greeted with horror by Mrs. Drayton, but Mr. Drayton agrees to the heinous act, resulting in his own death. As in the earlier version of the film, the 1955 version concludes with the restoration of the family and the return of the missing child. Yet the patriarchal structure of the McKennas has never been undermined, as the Lawrences were in 1934, by a domineering and flirtatious wife/mother. Rather the 1955 version is an assertion of American refusal to succumb to terrorism and blackmail, and the ability of the American individual to overcome an enemy spy ring, eclipsing the futile efforts of the police. The Draytons’ chief—the foreign ambassador—makes a telling comment following the failed assassination attempt: “Don’t you realize American people don’t like to have their children stolen?” Oddly implying that the resentment against the kidnappers of their offspring is exclusive to Americans, the comment asserts national identity as the key to the film, and protection of the family unit as America’s leading characteristic. Of course, Ben McKenna is only brought into the espionage plot by the agency of a professional spy, Louis Bernard. Bernard’s attempts to discover the assassination plot in Morocco cost him his own life, and he then passes the fatal knowledge onto the amateur, a tourist. The pivotal nature of Bernard’s role is indicated by the fact that he alone has much the same role (and the same name) in both versions of the film. Thus the professional agent is arguably the one who determines the plot, creating the “spy who knew too much.” This is to anticipate another type of spy that had come to prominence by the 1950s: the Professional agent, recruited and employed by the government, paid a salary, trained and assigned missions by the Secret

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Service, and accountable for his or her actions, as the amateur “accidental spies” never were. Though professional agents had appeared in earlier work by W. Somerset Maugham (Ashenden) and Graham Greene (The Confidential Agent), it was not until Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels in the 1950s that the professional became the dominant version of the of spy in popular fiction and film. The next two chapters will examine the professional agent in two distinct categories: firstly, chapter 4 explores the professional in the romantic adventure tradition, embodied by James Bond (chapter, 4). Secondly, chapter 5 studies the anti-Bond Cold Warrior that may be read as a reaction against Fleming’s work (and the films it inspired) and a throwback to earlier writers such as Conrad and Maugham. NOTES 1. The early Hitchcock films obviously raise the issue of female sexual guilt, though this theme of transference of guilt—as Tania Modleski points out—“begin[s] to look very different when seen by a woman… . In patriarchy woman’s sexual ‘guilt’ is unique to her and is not ‘transferable’ to men” (The Women Who Knew, 14). 2. In the US version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, made in 1955, the wife, Jo McKenna (played by Doris Day), is a former musical star singer/performer, whose fame easily eclipses that of her husband, Ben, a doctor (played by Jimmy Stewart). 3. Several critics refer to Household’s protagonist as Sir Robert Hunter (McCormick, Britton). However, he is not named in Household’s text. Presumably the critics are referring to the 1977 TV version, directed by Clive Donner, in which the protagonist’s name is indeed Sir Robert Hunter. In Fritz Lang’s 1941 film version, Man Hunt, the protagonist’s name is Captain Alan Thorndike. “Hunter” at least has the advantage that it refers to the protagonist’s chief pastime and, arguably, predatory nature. 4. The unattributed epigraph to the novel makes clear that the “rogue male” is a type of animal, “solitary beasts.” An interesting theme of the novel is that the survivalism of the narrator is dependent on him drawing on his animal nature, returning to a primitive state of existence. As he states while hiding in his burrow, “I had begun to think as an animal” (129). 5. This device of a corpse substituted for a person desiring to fabricate their own death, is a recurring feature of the spy novel—Buchan uses it in The Thirty-Nine Steps when Scudder fakes his own death to elude detection by Black Stone. Arguably the spy is reborn through this death of another, as Hannay is reborn by taking on Scudder’s mission after the American’s death. Graham Greene makes the fake death and funeral a central episode of The Third Man. 6. Significantly, James Bond is reading Ambler’s The Mask of Dimitrios when he flies out to Istanbul to obtain the Spektor machine, in From Russia with Love. As Atkins notes, “He is still reading it on the Orient Express, returning to England” (Atkins, 127). See Fleming, From Russia 112, 233. It is intriguing that Fleming, master of the romantic spy story, seeks to emphasize his hero’s connection with the seedier interwar world of Ambler’s protagonists.



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7. In Greene’s screenplay and the novella based on it, both Martins and Lime are English, reflecting Britain’s key role in international politics up to World War II. In Carol Reed’s 1949 film version, however, both men are American (Martins, renamed Holly, is played by Joseph Cotton; Lime by Orson Welles). This in part reflects the postwar displacement of Britain by the US as a global superpower; which is ironically the subtext of a later Greene novel, The Quiet American. 8. Interestingly, Reed’s previous film, The Fallen Idol (1948) is also based on a Greene story, and also examines the disillusionment in an idolized friend. 9. According to the blurb, Greene called le Carré’s novel “The best spy story I have ever read” (Spy Who, cover). 10. By casting Orson Welles in the role of Harry Lime, director Carol Reed made a significant step towards creating a charismatic villain, whose compelling fascination for Martins (renamed Holly in the film version) is only too understandable. Joseph Cotton’s Martins strikes us as a moonstruck boy, so convinced of Harry Lime’s goodness that it takes an extreme form of evidence—a visit to the children’s hospital where Lime’s victims are dying—to bring him face to face with reality. It is at this point that he truly “knows too much”—possessed of the awful truth about Lime’s guilt. 11. After the death of Sergeant Paine (played by Bernard Lee, who would later feature as M in the Bond films)—shot and killed by Lime—Martins takes Paine’s gun and strides purposefully towards Lime, who is desperately trying to climb through a sewer grate. Significantly, Lime seems to nod at Martins, as though asking him to pull the trigger. Even Martins’ decisive act of killing Lime, can be interpreted as obeying his old friend’s instructions. 12. This encounter with the Hilfes superficially echoes the persuasive effects of Franklin P. Scudder’s discourse on Hannay, as a recruitment strategy; but is actually more akin to the treacherous friendliness offered him by the Bald Archeologist—the head of the foreign spy ring. 13. This emphasis on mothers who control their spy-sons will appear in the films of Hitchcock, especially Notorious and North by Northwest. 14. Hitler is a recurring figure in the spy who knew too much narrative, invoked in other works such as Greene’s Brighton Rock and Household’s Rogue Male. 15. This pattern of an innocuous figure as spy had been established even earlier, in the novels of Le Queux and Oppenheim—in The Secret for example a network of German waiters proves to be the hub of a spy organization. 16. The difficulty of knowing who to trust has been foregrounded in earlier examples of the genre such as Riddle of the Sands, where the discovery of Dollmann’s treachery leads the two protagonists—Davies and Carruthers—to doubt whether Clara Dollmann, his daughter, is also involved in treason. Hannay, too, is uncertain whether he can trust Scudder on learning that the American has told him a “pack of lies,” and appearances prove to be deceptive on several more occasions. 17. See chapter 6 on the double agent for a discussion of this novel, whose protagonist is widely interpreted as a fictionalized version of Kim Philby. 18. The unwanted burden of memory is another theme that links Greene and Hitchcock. As we have seen, Rowe is burdened by the memory of his role in his wife’s death, and can only find relief—becoming “the Happy Man”—when he loses his memory and awakes as Digby. The burden of memory in Hitchcock’s The Thirty-Nine Steps

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is carried by the performer Mr. Memory, whose task it is to memorize the secret rocket formula and carry it to Germany (presumably)—he replaces the photographic memory of the Black Stone spy in Buchan’s novel. However, Hannay’s memory is also involved in the plot: he unconsciously recognizes the importance of Mr. Memory by not being able to forget the theme tune that announces his arrival on stage. In this sense Hannay’s burden is the “burden” of the Mr. Memory tune. Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest is, like Rowe, released from the burden of memory (in his case, of two divorces and a sterile lifestyle, symbolized by his initials “ROT”) by his assumption of a new identity, George Kaplan. 19. It might seem harsh to indict Devlin of orchestrating this honey-trap using Alicia, whom he by this time loves. He is indeed reluctant for her to play this role, and tells this to his boss. But, once Alicia has agreed to the plan, he takes a leading role in arranging the meeting with Alex Sebastian. 20. Interestingly, one trait of the spy who knew too much is a disdain for amateurism in matters of espionage: as Arthur Rowe tells Rennit, the private investigator he hires, “They are such amateurs” (Ministry, 26). 21. The use of a hearse-driving undertaker seems a strange choice of agent to carry out the Prisoner’s abduction from London. In a quiet side street such as the Prisoner lives on, he is a highly conspicuous figure. One interpretation might be that the undertaker represents the “death” of the agent’s former life as a secret agent, leading to his rebirth as a “Prisoner”. One could also see this as a commentary on the transition from Danger Man to The Prisoner. Another, perhaps more far-fetched possibility is that this undertaker in fact does assassinate the Prisoner, and that the events of the village take place in an afterworld. 22. The Prisoner’s number is perhaps a reference to the well-known brand of cigarettes, Players No 6, (which were available in Britain from 1965) though the Prisoner, unlike Bond, is rarely shown smoking. 23. Though the woman seems to be Polish or from another Soviet bloc country, her accent at the end of the episode—when it is revealed she has betrayed the prisoner— sounds British. This reinforces the suggestion that it is the Prisoner’s own organization that is holding him captive. 24. This complicity, it should be noted, consists mainly of serving Number 2 rather than participating directly in operations against the prisoners of the Village. 25. The series contains satires on specific issues, such as contemporary politics and democracy (“Free for All”), systems of education (“The General”—in which a higher education is offered by indoctrination in 2 minutes, effectively education used as a form of brainwashing), and, even the family, with Number 2 as the superficially benevolent “father” of the Village. 26. For example, in one episode the Prisoner is invited to submit an entry to the Village art competition. He creates a sculpture using a tree trunk, carving it with an axe, wins the competition, and uses his prize money to buy the tapestry of another entrant. He then combines the two “artworks” to make a primitive canoe with which he escapes from the village.

Part II

THE COLD WAR ERA, 1945–1990

Chapter 4

Licensing the Professional Spy James Bond

When it comes to the professional spy in literature and film, it may seem that there is only one name that comes to mind. Even the most cursory glance at postwar popular culture—in Britain and elsewhere—would reveal the unique status of James Bond, aka 007, as the world’s most famous fictional spy. Despite recent literary and cinematic challengers such Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, Alex Berenson’s John Wells, Ethan Hunt (of Mission Impossible), and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, James Bond remains ensconced at the center of the longest running and most successful franchise in cinema history. Whether we know him by his proper name, or 007, this legend of the British Secret Service has dominated both popular and critical discussions of literary and cinematic portrayals of the spy for over half a century, from his literary debut in the pages of Casino Royale in 1953, to his twenty-third appearance as a film icon in Skyfall (2012).1 Following his genre-transforming debut in Fleming’s first novel, Bond went on to feature in a series of dazzling adventures penned by his creator, who himself had served as an intelligence officer in Naval Intelligence during World War II. As Christoph Lindner argues, “It was really with the publication of Fleming’s 007 series beginning in the early 1950s that secret agent fiction first hijacked the popular imagination” (“Criminal Vision,” 77). Biographers and critics of Fleming have sometimes claimed that Bond was a thinly veiled version of Fleming himself, or perhaps a fantasy figure reflecting the man who Fleming wanted to be. Andrew Lycett, for example, asserts “Of course, as a perennial fantasist, Ian could not help introducing a strong element of wish-fulfilment into his creation. James Bond was the man of action he would have liked to have been, if his nature had not been more passive, reflective and chameleon-like” (Ian Fleming, 223).2 Kingsley Amis, author of the first critical study on Bond, used the same phrase in 117

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noting that “Mr. Fleming is able now and then to smuggle in some blatantly unreasonable wish-fulfilment” (James Bond Dossier, 18) into the character of Bond. Certainly Fleming enjoyed many of the pleasures and luxuries that he assigned to Bond in his novels: fast and expensive cars, the company of glamorous, sexually attractive women, exotic tropical locations (Fleming wrote the Bond novels during annual winter sojourns at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica), a taste for luxurious food and drink (most famously the vodka martini), and sophisticated firearms, were all things that appealed to Fleming and Bond alike. Moreover, Fleming’s service in Naval Intelligence during World War II—as Assistant to the Director, Admiral John Godfrey—involved him in various operations and schemes that might seem to belong in a spy novel.3 Like his hero James Bond, Fleming attained the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy, giving him an official military rank. Yet it is important to keep in mind that Fleming’s wartime experience was largely administrative rather than in active service. He did not participate in armed combat and—especially given that his father Valentine Fleming was killed in action in World War I, tragically ending a promising career in politics—this may have led Fleming to create a fantasy alter-ego a “man of action” who would thrust himself unflinchingly into the heart of the danger. Yet despite the apparent dominance of Bond, he is by no means the first instance of the professional spy in fictional espionage. Readers have noted the influence of earlier authors such as John Buchan (author of the Richard Hannay stories) and Sapper (creator of Bulldog Drummond) on Fleming’s spy fiction. Long before Ian Fleming invented his spy hero, W. Somerset Maugham had created Ashenden, arguably the first fully fledged professional secret agent in British fiction. In Ashenden (1928), a fictional narrative based on the author’s intelligence activities in Russia during World War I, Maugham noted that Ashenden was “‘founded on my experiences in the Intelligence Department during the war, but rearranged for the purposes of fiction’” (cited in Jeffery, Secret History, 237). Jeffery asserts that Maugham chose fiction to avoid prosecution under the OSA, (Secret History, 237). Maugham uses the single initial “R” for Ashenden’s controller, mimicking the use of ‘“C” as the designation for head of SIS, originally used for Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the first head of SIS, and then by his successors at the helm of SIS. The use of a single initial for the Head of Intelligence also anticipates the most famous fictional spymaster of all, M, from Ian Fleming’s Bond novels.4 Yet while Maugham’s protagonist is a clear precursor to Bond as a professional spy, Ashenden displays little of the romantic fantasy that Fleming was accused of. As Maugham himself claimed, “the work of an agent was ‘on the whole extremely monotonous’” (cited Jeffery, 237) and this is reflected in his stories. Ashenden is also groundbreaking in depicting the close, often strained relationship between the controller and his agent. Gone is the gentlemanly



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fraternity of Bullivant and Hannay, even the appeal to the agent’s noble impulses. R’s role is more autocratic: it is he who assigns Ashenden his missions, and keeps tabs on him during the operation: in fact, Ashenden comes to believe that R has someone spying on him. Along with the professionalizing of the spy goes a significant loss of freedom and individual initiative. Ashenden is, like his creator, (and Ambler’s Latimer) a professional writer, making the connections between the character and his author only too apparent. R recruits Ashenden in a London safehouse, where the spymaster’s appearance is described in unflattering detail: “The thing immediately noticeable about him was the closeness with which his blue eyes were set. He only just escaped a squint. They were hard and cruel eyes, and very wary; and they gave him a cunning, shifty look. He was a man that you could neither like nor trust at first sight” (Ashenden, 18). The recruitment is quite straightforward, absent any of the flattery that Bullivant applies to Hannay in Greenmantle: “He asked Ashenden a good many questions and then, without further to-do, suggested that he had particular qualifications for the secret service.” (18). The tone is matter-of-fact, suggesting a job interview for the Civil Service rather than induction into the glamorous profession of international espionage.5 Indeed in an ironic twist of the reader’s expectations, Ashenden later imagines the career of the spymaster (such as R) as being more exciting and rewarding than that of the field agent (a preference that would of course be overturned by later fictional spies, such as Bond and Bourne): It might be, he mused, that the great chiefs of the secret service in their London offices, their hands on the throttle of this great machine, led a life full of excitement; … but it must be confessed that for the small fry like himself to be a member of the secret service was not as adventurous an affair as the public thought. Ashenden’s official existence was as orderly and monotonous as a City clerk’s. (Ashenden, 98–9)

There are echoes of Kipling here, in which Colonel Creighton plays the “Great Game” in India to the awed response of Kim. Where Buchan portrayed the desk job as somehow ignoble, even shaming, Maugham recognizes that Whitehall is where the real power lies. The passage conveys a sense of disillusionment with the life of the spy that becomes increasingly loud in the twentieth-century spy novel. It is hard to imagine James Bond, however, entertaining such a self-deprecating scenario. His respect for M notwithstanding, Bond never doubts that he himself is the most important figure in the intelligence mission. Despite Ashenden’s belief in the spymaster’s power, Maugham’s portrayal of R as his own controller is often unflattering.6 He clearly does not trust his agents, as Ashenden discovers “there was evidently someone who had orders

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to see that he did not neglect his work or get into mischief” (100). Throughout the narrative, Ashenden demonstrates a mixture of grudging admiration and mockery for his controller. In a bureaucracy such as the Secret Service, it is possible that an agent might aspire to eventual promotion to the role of spymaster. There is little evidence here, however, of the deference or even affection that Bond feels for M. When R gives Ashenden the assignment of pursuing the “Hairless Mexican,” there is clear evidence of tension, even alienation, between them. As the narrator states, they look at each other “as though they were strangers who sat together in a railway carriage and each wondered who and what the other was” (58). The distrust between spymaster and spy is as palpable here as it would be between Control and Leamas in le Carré’s Spy Who Came in, or between Harry Palmer and Dalby or Dawlish in the first few novels by Len Deighton. John Atkins has termed Bond “England’s most popular spy” but also “among the cognoscenti, including Fleming’s fellow spy-writers, England’s most hated and most despised spy” (British Spy Novel, 72). Despite being based on Fleming’s intelligence experiences, Bond showed little signs of the cynical realism that characterized Ashenden. The rest of this chapter will offer a detailed exploration of Bond’s emergence and dominance as a professional spy in fiction, before going onto address the modifications and enhancements of Bond’s persona that took place once the character was transferred from the pages of fiction to the big screen. For while Fleming deserves immense credit for having created the character of James Bond, 007s global popularity ultimately owes more to the directors, actors, and other film professionals who have kept Bond alive as a cinematic icon, than to Fleming himself.7 Bond’s status as a spy might seem axiomatic. Even the title of Bond novels and films, notably The Spy Who Loved Me, would seem to confirm this status. And yet, Bond first appears designated as “The Secret Agent,” (Casino Royale, 1) this term emphasizing his professional status within a branch of government. This original emphasis on Bond’s governmental role marks a significant departure from his predecessors in the spy novel. With certain notable exceptions, such as Maugham’s Ashenden, the hero of the early spy novel had been a talented gentleman amateur, typified by Childers’s Carruthers and Buchan’s Richard Hannay, for whom espionage was a matter of patriotic duty. Bond, by contrast, is emphatically a trained professional: and this status reflects a new investment in professional culture more generally in postwar Britain. As Amis writes, “Bond’s professionalism is one of the best things about him, both as a moral quality and as a relief from that now defunct and always irritating personage, the gifted amateur” (James Bond Dossier, 20). As the high cost of Britain’s victory in World War II became increasingly apparent, with the loss of the Indian empire in 1947, the need to compete with



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postwar rivals required a new commitment to development of professions in fields of science, medicine, law, and education. Britain, like Bond, could no longer rely on muddling through or the devotion of talented amateurs (even those such as those who staffed Bletchley Park, where the German Enigma codes were cracked). Britain needed great government investment and legions of highly trained professionals who could advance knowledge and maintain Britain’s position at the “top table” of international affairs. Fleming, if not exactly an amateur, was something of a dilettante, failing the exam to enter the Foreign Service and then working as a newspaperman and (unsuccessfully) as a stockbroker before achieving success as a professional author (as his brother Peter had done before him). While Fleming’s wartime experiences in naval intelligence were undoubtedly a source of material for Bond’s adventures, what Fleming didn’t do in wartime is as significant as what he did. He never saw active service, and even his most famous contribution—the 30 Assault Unit (30AU), known popularly as Fleming’s “Red Indians”—placed him in the role of controller and director based in London, rather than active leader in the field. Indeed, accounts by some members of AU30 suggest that Fleming was not particularly liked or admired by his “Red Indians”—tolerated on his visits to the Unit as an interfering bureaucrat rather than embraced as a comrade-in-arms.8 This might seem to place Fleming in the role of M—Bond’s chief at SIS in London, sending the agent on dangerous assignments—rather than Bond himself. However, Fleming had his own M—Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence who appointed Fleming as his assistant during World War II. According to most accounts— including his own memoirs—Godfrey possessed many of the traits of M. A strict disciplinarian and in some ways an autocrat, Godfrey nonetheless had a deep affection for his staff, and was generally admired by them. He had a shrewd mind for intelligence matters, and was also willing to challenge those in authority over him when he believed they were in error. Indeed, Godfrey’s confrontations with Winston Churchill—first when Churchill was First Sea Lord, then as Prime Minister—led to his dismissal from the post of DNI (Lycett, Ian Fleming, 142). Godfrey was key to Fleming’s creation of Bond—for had he not chosen him from outside the Navy as his assistant, Fleming would never have had the experiences on which Bond was based. Therefore, Fleming’s unique contribution to the genre of spy fiction rests on his creation of a professional agent, an operator who marks a clear evolutionary leap from his predecessors in the genre. It is impossible to imagine James Bond without his “license to kill,” his 007 status, or his missions assigned in the leather-upholstered office by M. Nor can one conceive of Bond without his government-issued state-of-the-art firearms, customized vehicles, and other gadgets provided to him by the equipment officer known as Q, or even without the tedium of his routine office work between missions.

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Bond, whether he likes it or not, is now part of a government bureaucracy. Without all these trappings of his professional role, we would be left with a flimsy imitation of Richard Hannay or Bulldog Drummond. As Michael Denning notes, “James Bond transcended the novels and films which brought him to life, and joined that small group of fictional characters who are known by many who never read or saw the ‘original’ texts— figures like Robinson Crusoe and Sherlock Holmes” (“Licensed to look” 56). Fleming’s influence has been far greater than the creation of a single character, however: he helped to create the myth of brilliance and invulnerability surrounding the British Secret Service, which other nations—perhaps not knowing the reality—have tried to imitate. We get a taste of this myth in the first section of FRWL—the fifth Bond novel, published in 1957—in a meeting held by SMERSH to identify the ideal target for its attack on the West. Among the Western intelligence services, G singles out the British, because of the superiority of their Secret Service, which G attributes to “[t]he love of adventure” (42). Ironically the insular geographical features that early spy novelists saw as Britain’s vulnerability to invasion, have now become a “great security advantage.” General G, apparently familiar with the amateur tradition of British spies, recognizes that “most of their strength lies in the myth—in the myth of Scotland Yard, of Sherlock Holmes, of the Secret Service.” (43). The contradictions in G’s speech reflect a deeper ambiguity about the British Secret Service: the tradition of the gentleman-amateur— upper-class males trained at Public school and groomed for imperial rule— has been grafted onto a professional service and a modern bureaucracy. G goes onto single out James Bond as the prime target on the grounds that killing Bond and destroying his reputation will “help to destroy the myth” (44) of the British Secret Service. Bond, in other words, is the crème de la crème, the embodiment of all the virtues of SIS. Yet he is also the product of “myth” that can be destroyed. It is interesting to compare General G’s perception of SIS, in FRWL, with nonfictional accounts of the Professional Secret Service in the era of World War II and its aftermath. John le Carré—himself an intelligence agent before becoming a spy novelist— has written of the Secret Service as “our secret elite” in which “the clean-limbed tradition of English power would survive,” criticizing the service for denying the fact that “[t]he Empire may be crumbling” (cited Knightley, 87). Another former agent has written of his recruitment by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), when he was “ushered into a bare room at the War Office where he confronted an officer in civilian clothes who ‘closely resembled Sherlock Holmes’” (Knightley, 87). It is striking to see the recurrence of Sherlock Holmes—an amateur fictional detective—as a key figure of the myth of the professional Secret Service.



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A harsher account of SIS recruitment is provide by Hugh Trevor-Roper who joined SIS during World War II, and wrote: “It seemed to me that the professionals were by and large pretty stupid and some of them very stupid” (cited in Knightley, 87). The point of invoking these accounts is to highlight Fleming’s role in creating a myth of the superiority of the British Secret Service that diverged significantly from the reality experienced by its agents. Moreover, Fleming offered Bond as a compensatory fantasy for Britain’s actual decline—especially in comparison with the US—in the postwar era. It is in this context, and with these qualifications, that we may most productively examine the representation of the professional spy in fiction. Rather than representing an actual state of effectiveness, the professional spy in fiction may serve to mask and distract attention from a bewildering condition of incompetence and amateurish bungling. However, from its earliest days the Secret Service was hampered by budgetary constraints. There were constant pressures from the Government to cut the Secret Service budget, as Keith Jeffery notes (Secret History, 156). This official parsimony was an important part of the reality of running the Secret Service, yet one would never guess this from the ample resources depicted in the James Bond novels and films. Although by the 1950s the SIS had been accepted (though not publicly acknowledged) as part of the government infrastructure, funding still lagged far behind the CIA’s. Yet in Fleming’s world, there are no shortages, Bond can be provided with state-ofthe-art weapons, vehicles, and other technology, meanwhile enjoying a life of luxury, and the SIS invariably takes the leading role (vis-à-vis the CIA) in dealing with enemies such as SMERSH.9 Nonetheless, the apparent (i.e. fictional) wealth of the SIS and material comforts of James Bond in Fleming’s novels, and the films based on them, has its liabilities. John le Carré has scathingly criticized James Bond, calling into question his skill and patriotism by invoking his apparently mercenary motives: “Bond, you see, is the ultimate prostitute” (cited in McCormick, 109). Le Carré is by no means alone in his criticism: Dame Stella Rimington, formerly Director General of MI5 and now a spy novelist herself, has cast doubt on Bond’s status as a spy: “Bond is no spy, though it is almost a heresy to say so. He is no more than a licensed killer with no mission but to destroy” (“Introduction,” The Spy’s Bedside Book, xii). While Rimington does not assign mercenary motives to Bond, she sees him as a kind of officially sanctioned weapon rather than intelligence agent. This seems a harsh assessment of Bond, echoing the accusations against him made by certain villains and allies in the novels and films themselves.10 Yet the claim was made much earlier, by Kinglsey Amis, who begins The James Bond Dossier by stating, “It’s inaccurate, of course, to describe James Bond as a spy, in the strict sense of one who steals or buys or smuggles the secrets of foreign

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Powers.” (Amis, 1). Amis later points out that excessive moral scruples about violence are inappropriate in an agent such as Bond: discussing a case in For Your Eyes Only in which Bond takes on an assignment to kill that smacks of personal revenge (Amis, 29). It becomes impossible, therefore, to discuss Bond as simply one of many fictional spies. For many, perhaps most, readers and filmgoers he is the fictional spy par excellence, whose fame and influence transcend any of his rivals. This involves the paradox that Bond’s fame surely jeopardizes the secrecy of his profession, as indeed it makes a mockery of the anonymity of the Secret Service. Former SIS “C” Colin McColl may be correct that “James Bond is the best recruiting sergeant in the world” (West, At Her Majesty’s, 214) but this advertising function of 007 inevitably compromises the secrecy of the service itself. On the one hand, Bond’s lucrative commercial value brings a suggestion of mercenary behavior to all that the agent does. On the other, his effectiveness as a spy would seem radically undermined by his worldwide renown. As the title song of the film Casino Royale puts it, “You know my name”: a global recognition that both undermines the concept of the film as a “reboot” and compromises the anonymity required of the secret agent. Of course, as though ignoring this renown, Bond is often sent on covert intelligence-gathering missions, most notably in FRWL where he is assigned to capture a Russian decoding machine known as the Spektor (changed in the film version to the Lektor, presumably to avoid confusion with the villains’s organization SPECTRE). In fact, M sees Bond’s celebrity as a bonus, because it has led Tatiana Romanova to fall in love with him based on a photograph. Even in the first novel, Casino Royale, Bond is assigned to defeat Le Chiffre in a card game, and so thwart the purposes of SMERSH, rather than to assassinate him. Bond tries to gain access to the secrets of foreign agents and enemy powers in subsequent novels, such as the SMERSH agent Mr. Big in Live and Let Die. But Rimington’s objection does deserve serious consideration, in that Bond’s status as a professional killer (his “license to kill”) may call into question his legitimacy as a spy. It becomes important therefore to consider Bond’s motives for espionage. Amis claims that “what [Fleming] gives us is patriotism, mid-twentieth century style” (Dossier, 85). Yet it would be hard to argue that Bond works as a spy directly from motives of patriotism. No doubt, Bond inherits a love of adventure from his Buchanesque predecessors, and some of this is infused with loyalty to country. First and foremost, however, he is a paid employee of the British government whose missions are assigned to him by his commander in the Secret Service. There is nothing accidental or amateurish about Bond’s involvement with espionage. The alternative to accepting a dangerous mission is not a life of leisure, but performing dull administrative work that



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Bond finds intolerable. Bond has the impressive resources of a major Government organization at his disposal, and has professional training in armed and unarmed combat that his amateur predecessors lack. Indeed, in Goldfinger we find Bond whiling away the tedious hours of night duty by writing a manual about unarmed combat, appropriately named Stay Alive!: compiling “the best of all that had been written on the subject by the Secret Services of the world” (Goldfinger, 45).11 Perhaps most important, Bond has a “license to kill”—a distinction that is granted to only the most tested and proficient agents of SIS. It is this “license”—referred to by Rimington—that is key to defining Bond as a professional. The license to kill is surely pivotal to Bond’s iconic appeal as an adventure hero: he is given permission (by SIS, by the author, and ultimately by the reader) to violate many of the taboos that govern subjects in civilian (and civilized) society. In postwar British society, where the police did not carry arms, Bond’s familiarity with and authorized use of weapons instantly places him in a special category of public servant. Bond not only kills, but he enjoys killing; he also enjoys promiscuous sexual activity, chain-smoking, drinking to excess, and causing havoc in enemy secret intelligence organizations. As Amis notes, “He unreflectingly enjoys what we can no longer feel quite comfortable about, living our lives for us as we should like to live them every time he draws the smoke deep into his lungs with a prolonged hiss” (Amis 31). Bond thus releases and acts out the desires that most readers and viewers have to repress in modern industrial society. While such activities are not always endorsed by SIS—M, with his “Victorian upbringing” (FRWL, 105) frowns on Bond’s womanizing, for instance— they are all part of the package that makes Bond a compelling hero and an effective agent. Bond, besides being a spy, is a man in revolt against the conventions of polite modern bourgeois society. And yet Bond’s excesses are treated with indulgence, due to his professional obligations: Amis insightfully notes that Bond’s rebellious behavior is often an attempt to gain M’s attention, even when expressed as disapproval (Amis, 33). While most readers and filmgoers are bound by these social conventions and sexual restraints in real life, Bond is, paradoxically, an outlaw whose role is to protect law-abiding society and international security from its enemies. We thus arrive at another of the contradictions in the function of the professional spy: that he is permitted to pursue a range of anti-social activities (violence, betrayal, deception, sexual manipulation, theft, to name a few) for the ultimate purpose of protecting the social order. One might say that the spy does society’s secret dirty work for it, resulting in a stigma attaching to the role itself. In Childers, we saw early signs of the degraded status of the “spy,” in Davies’s and Carruthers’s reluctance to accept the term. The amateur, however, could be largely ignored by a society that had no role in authorizing,

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let alone financing, his actions. However, the professional spy is explicitly an agent of society: even if his existence is “deniable,” he has unbreakable ties to government bureaucracy. As Nigel West reminds us, “For the first eightyfive years of its existence [until 1994], the Secret Intelligence Service … was supposed to be secret with the identities of successive Chiefs undisclosed. No Chief went into the public print, nor published his memoirs” (At Her Majesty’s, 16). This secrecy extended to the identities of agents themselves. In many respects, the spy is a deeply anti-social figure, unable to place trust in friends or family or even colleagues; operating in the shadowy margins of society, working alone, enduring extreme isolation and secrecy. In some ways this isolation is an advantage to the literary hero: he embodies the selfreliance and individualism that have characterized the adventure hero since Odysseus. At the same time, aspects of the spy’s function make him challenging to refashion as a popular hero: so many of his traits are fundamentally anti-popular. As McCormick notes, for many years “spying was regarded as something despicable and no spy could be considered as a hero” (3). If the only saving grace for the amateur heroes of Buchan and Childers was that their spying was defensive, motivated by patriotic duty, what defense could be offered for the work of the paid agent? Perhaps Fleming’s greatest achievement was to turn the paid, professional spy into a literary and cultural hero, overcoming all the stigmas against espionage as an occupation. One method that Fleming used to this end was the fertility of his imagination where it came to his villains. If one drawback to the professional spy is the taint of being a mercenary, this pales by comparison with the greed and peculation of the villains—for example Donovan “Red” Grant, Bond’s SMERSH adversary in FRWL, switches sides from the British to the Soviets because they pay him better for killing (FRWL, 27). Goldfinger, of course, is motivated exclusively by acquisitiveness for gold, while even Moonraker’s Sir Hugo Drax—whom we learn is driven by an obsession for revenge against Britain—can only attempt this goal after accumulating a vast personal fortune in the valuable ore Columbite. It seems that by displacing avarice onto this series of brilliantly imagined villains, Fleming is able to purge Bond himself of the taint of the mercenary. In these contexts, Bond’s motives seem closer to unselfish patriotism and duty. He serves his country not for profit but for a mixture of pride and pleasure. It is clear, besides, that Bond has other sources of income beside his government salary (his lifestyle, including his Chelsea flat and vintage Bentley, is that of a wealthy bachelor). Also, we know that Bond, while on a mission, has a virtually unlimited expense account, and is therefore able to indulge in extravagant pleasures denied to him at home. The financial and other resources at Bond’s disposal give him a significant advantage over



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the amateur spy, who has to rely on his own ingenuity and good fortune.12 Yet this economic prosperity also risks eroding the romantic associations of the spy genre. If, as Rimington claims, William Le Queux and John Buchan “put the glamour into the spy trade” (“Introduction,” xv), then how could Bond’s ruthless professionalism not take it out again? The key to Bond’s glamor is the elegant, refined lifestyle that Fleming constructs for his protagonist. Bond’s apparent financial independence frees him from the stigma of mercenary motives, and he is defined by his good taste. Having access to a range of material goods and experiences denied to most postwar Britons, Bond justifies his luxury by displaying his discriminating palate and expert knowledge.13 This sometimes involves vaunting his knowledge as superior to that of his boss, M, particularly in the films.14 In the culture of postwar England, following a war in which British intelligence (especially the codebreaking operation at Bletchely Park) had played such a key role in the defeat of the Nazis, Bond essentially had to be a professional agent, in order to be taken seriously. The era of the post-Victorian “gentleman” amateur—discussed by David Stafford in his essay “Spies and Gentlemen”—had passed, along with the empire and the gentlemanly code of honor. Such a character would have seemed like a quaintly nostalgic throwback in the 1950s, with its postwar prosperity, growing bureaucracy and burgeoning Welfare State. Especially following the formation in 1947 of the CIA—America’s intelligence service, which became far more extensive and better-funded than Britain’s—a British spy had to be a professional to keep up with his rivals. Indeed, Britain had entered a professionalized, bureaucratized modern era, in which official status and thorough training were essential to success. As Edward Comentale argues: “Despite its racy content, his fiction gives expression to the demands and contradictions of a specifically professional society, and its hero, James Bond, is less a hero of consumer culture than he is a hero of the corporation (“Fleming’s Company Man,” 3). Hence, Fleming’s “novels, insofar as they work to counter painfully obvious signs of England’s postwar decline, also work to justify the increasingly corporate structure of the nation” (“Fleming’s Company Man,” 3). As the SIS had struggled to emerge as a fully professionalized organization, Bond seems to represent the apex of this triumph of organization and training over instinct and improvisation. The reality of SIS during the war years was quite different. In his memoir, published after his defection to the Soviet Union in 1963, My Silent War, Kim Philby portrays SIS as suffering under a “typical muddle” (60) and as being “like an old house, the original plan of which is still visible though dwarfed by subsequent additions” (My Silent, 52). More importantly, Britain had lost, in the aftermath of the war, its preeminent status as a global power, ceding that leadership role to the US, which now carried the mantle of defending the West against the Soviet

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Union. The independence of India in 1947 only confirmed what had long been apparent; that Britain’s reign as the world’s leading imperial power was over. For Michael Denning, “the spy novel is in a sense the war novel of the Cold War, the cover story of an era of decolonization and … the definitive loss of Britain’s role as a world power” (“Licensed to look,” 57). With this in mind, Bond’s fictional role as the linchpin of Western intelligence might indicate nostalgia for the days of British supremacy, or alternatively a stubborn disavowal of the nation’s political, economic, and military decline. Yet, more positively, Bond can also be construed as an insistence on Britain’s continued political and tactical relevancy in the Cold War, despite being dwarfed by both the US and the Soviet Union in terms of military strength and economic clout. Surely, a key part of Bond’s appeal—especially for the British—was, and is, that he apparently never received the news about Britain’s global economic and imperial decline.15 Bond acts as though Britain were still the leading world power with chief responsibility for policing global security, just as Fleming writes as though Britain, rather than the US, were the leading bastion of democratic freedom against the Red Menace. As James Chapman writes about Dr No, “while on the surface, this may seem nothing more than a Boy’s Own adventure story, at a deeper level certain ideological structures are apparent. Most obviously, Bond functions as an agent of British imperialism” (Licence, 61). At a political level, what Bond represents, though, is less a disavowal of Britain’s military and economic inferiority, than an assertion of the continued superiority of its intelligence services. The reason Britain continues to play such a vital role in world affairs, the Bond novels remind us, is that it has the most innovative and effective intelligence service in the world: and this service is embodied in the figure of Bond. However, Bond’s nationalistic credentials may open him to mockery and parody. As Christoph Lindner observes, the flag-waving patriotism of the Bond films are seized upon by the parody, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997): “Austin Powers’ sports car, painted up like a giant British flag, represents an amalgamation of countless Bondmobiles with Roger Moore’s Union Jack parachute from The Spy Who Loved Me” (76).16 Inevitably, Bond’s pro-British stance involves him in a degree of anti-American sentiment: Bond continues to insist that Britain is the leader of the free world, despite the fact that “as Britain reluctantly faced up to the decline of its power in the 1950s, the conviction grew among British politicians and diplomats that the country could still play a role on the world stage through its ‘special relationship’ with the United States” (Chapman Licence, 62). If one mark of the professional is that s/he is paid for her or his special services, it is paradoxical that in Fleming the use of money as motivation is used to denigrate the American service. It may be the most “professional,”



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but is not the most effective, relying too much on money. For Soviet intelligence, Bond’s professionalism and technical know-how is less formidable than his uniquely British derring-do. Another significant trademark of Bond is that he invariably works alone. This solo pursuit of espionage and assassination is in marked contrast to the collaborative work of the early spy heroes of Le Queux, Buchan, and Childers. Bond is closer in his solitary role to the protagonists of Maugham’s Ashenden, and Household’s Rogue Male: the latter, in particular, is prevented from turning to the British authorities for fear of implicating them in a conspiracy. No enduring collaboration is permitted for the professional agent, who operates largely unassisted and unheeded. In Bond’s case, he occasionally works in tandem with his American counterpart, Felix Leiter of the CIA, but this is a pragmatic alliance rather than a meaningful partnership. While the CIA was indisputably the dominant partner in reality, Bond is clearly in charge, in Fleming’s imaginative creations. In Live and Let Die, the second Bond novel, Leiter assists 007 in doing battle with the Harlem gangster Mr. Big—another of SMERSH’s operatives—yet is eventually kidnapped and nearly killed. Christopher Moran has noted the symbolism of Leiter’s loss of an arm and a leg, as he is thrown to the sharks by Mr. Big’s henchmen, claiming it “stands as the perfect bodily metonym for SIS’s fictional elevation above the CIA. Whereas Bond—the Briton— appears impeccably attired and athletic, radiating sex appeal, Leiter uses crutches, walks with a limp, and wears a prosthetic hook” (“Ian Fleming” 134).17 However, this is a fictional disability that actually more closely mirrors Britain’s loss of its imperial appendages. It is tempting to read Bond’s supremacy in relation to the better-financed CIA, as a fantasized compensation—or indeed subconscious revenge—for Britain’s loss of actual power and status to the US. Umberto Eco is far blunter about Bond’s nationalism, calling it “the racist need to show the superiority of the Briton” (“Narrative,” 153). Bond’s self-reliance and solitary status somewhat simplify the narratives in which he features. There is no need for rendezvous with partners, no requirement for the teamwork and interactions that characterize Buchan’s and Childers’s heroes, nor for the complex group dynamics apparent in Conrad’s The Secret Agent. Bond can act on his own instincts, rather than conferring with fellow spies. When M informs him that he will have an associate on the mission to defeat Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, Bond’s reaction is telling: “Bond would have preferred to work alone, but one didn’t argue with M” (Casino, 20).18 Even Bond’s communications with M and SIS headquarters are sporadic, such that he often appears to be a kind of rogue agent. But there are other implications to Bond’s solitude: as well as a ruthless professional spy, he is also a figure of modern alienation and isolation, a corporate man, part of an anonymous bureaucracy in which he is known by a number, not a name.19 At the same time, Bond always introduces himself by his proper

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name, “Bond, James Bond,” and so asserts himself as an unique individual. As Allan Hepburn argues, “[s]ecret agents work inside and outside hierarchical structures at the same time” (Intrigue, 34), and Bond is a perfect instance of this apparent paradox. Bond’s popularity is connected to his embodiment of the wishes, anxieties of the modern subject: he is ambitious, competitive, aggressive, ruthless, his vigilance and suspicion often verging on paranoia. And yet, he emerges as a hero because of his courage in overcoming apparently invincible enemies and villains. Despite his preference for working alone, Bond will sometimes form alliances and friendships with other agents, during his missions, such as Darko Kerim, the head of Station T (for Turkey), in Istanbul. Bond’s friendship with Kerim in FRWL is formed immediately on meeting him: “Bond thought he had never seen so much vitality and warmth in a human face. It was like being close to the sun, and Bond let go the strong dry hand and smiled back at Kerim with a friendliness he rarely felt for a stranger” (125). There is a scarcely veiled homoeroticism in Bond’s attraction to Kerim, whose impressive physique he admires (FRWL, 124). This is typical of Bond’s close emotional ties to the men he works with, including M and Felix Leiter. But crucially, Bond’s friendship with Kerim is forged in the heat of combat, and any sexually dissident notes are soon diverted into defeating the common enemy. Michael Denning offers an interesting reading of Kerim as a type of surrogate father, who gives Bond access to a hidden world (in this case, the gypsies and Turkish patriarchy) that is not available to the ordinary visitor: “This world is seen as being surpassed—Kerim will be killed—but its secrets are needed by Bond, who has only the metaphoric institutional father, M” (“Licensed to Look,” 67). It is interesting to compare Darko Kerim with another ally who does (briefly) become Bond’s father-in-law, Marc-Ange Draco, Tracy’s father in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (OHMSS), (whose name resembles Darko’s with the r/a inverted). Both men belong to a type that has been aptly defined by Umberto Eco, who calls it a “variant” in the Bond formula: “a strongly drawn being who has many of the moral qualities of the Villain, but uses them in the end for good, or at least fights on the side of Bond” (“Narrative Structures,” 150). Eco calls these “ambiguous representatives” due to Bond’s ambivalent relation to them (150). This reflects some of the ambivalence of the son towards the father, though there remains a friendship based on equality. Significantly, Draco is a leader of a crime syndicate, the Union Corse, which makes him an ideal surrogate father figure for Bond who is in rebellion against the “institutional father,” M and has written a letter of resignation, being “fed to the teeth with chasing the ghost of Blofeld” (OHMSS, 12).20 Bond’s reaction to Draco is admiration rather than disdain for his criminal accomplishments, considering him “with respect. This was one of the great



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professionals of the world” (OHMSS, 41). “Professional,” evidently, is one of Bond’s highest terms of approval, and there is a note of envy in his response to Draco’s flourishing business. The alliances with Leiter, Darko Kerim, and Draco are fleeting. There is one relationship, however, which remains consistent throughout the Bond novels and films, and stands as an integral part—in fact, the foundation—of Bond’s professional identity. This is his relationship with M, the head of the Secret Service, who not only tries to keep Bond in line but also gives him the dangerous missions he so ardently craves. The role of a “controller” is key to defining the professional spy in fiction, and there is no more influential spyspymaster relationship than Bond’s with M. There is a ritualistic quality to Bond’s meetings with M, so that it appears each encounter could stand in for any of the others. Yet the scene in which Bond receives his assignment from M in FRWL is more explicit about the affection Bond has for his superior, as he “sat down and looked across into the tranquil, lined sailor’s face that he loved, honoured, and obeyed” (104). Besides conveying Fleming’s own admiration for his wartime commander, Admiral Godfrey, M also serves as a surrogate father for Bond, who—we learn in one of the novels—lost his father quite early in life (as did Fleming). Most important, it is M who selects Bond’s missions and controls his professional destiny, in effect giving him the power of life and death over his agent. Eco notes that “M represents to Bond the one who has a global view of the events, hence his superiority over the ‘hero’ who depends upon him and who sets out on his various missions in conditions of inferiority to the omniscient chief” (“Narrative,” 147). Yet what Eco does not observe, is that this function of M serves to free Bond from the obligation to take a “global view” himself. M is essential not only because he provides Bond with his mission—unlike the amateur or accidental spy, the professional does not stumble into international intrigue or choose to become involved in espionage—but because he accepts the responsibility of the consequences, allowing Bond to act impulsively. Hence, he is officially required to enter the shadowy world, at the behest of his mentor: on his way to M’s office, Bond reflects on “all those other occasions when the bell of the red telephone had been the signal that had fired him, like a loaded projectile, across the world towards some distant target of M’s choosing” (FRWL, 103). If Bond is compared to a guided missile—a weapon, rather than a human agent—then it is all the more significant that the target is “of M’s choosing.” It is he who decides when, and how, Bond will carry out his deadly work. As a professional spy, Bond is a company man, firmly embedded within a hierarchy, in which he is bound to follow orders. This, after all, is the paradoxical condition of his “license to kill”: it promises freedom, yet brings a significant surrender of agency that he must struggle to recover through spontaneous adventure and sexual exploits.

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Of course, the fact that the mission is determined by M does not in any way lessen Bond’s commitment to it once he is on assignment. In the first place, he is grateful for any adventure that will take him away from the “soft life” and “dog days” (FRWL, 103) of office life. Second, Bond has implicit faith in M’s judgment, even when it seems to involve a dubious source of intelligence. In FRWL, a Russian cipher clerk, working in the Russian Embassy in Istanbul, claims to be willing to deliver a Spektor decoding machine in exchange for Bond’s favors. Despite the far-fetched appearance of the story, Bond takes the girl’s infatuation seriously (109). Bond’s attraction to gambling here mingles with the interest he feels in an attractive woman and a lucrative prize, the Spektor machine. Underlying these attractions, however, is Bond’s respect and obedience for M. Even Bond’s sexual adventures, then, become part of his mission, as he realizes he is “‘pimping for England’” (FRWL, 115). Bond’s professionalism requires him to stay focused on the job rather than the girl. Rather than a spontaneous liaison with a beautiful woman, it becomes clear that the rendezvous with the girl is part of the job, his professional assignment. Bond is led to question whether he can function sexually in such conditions (116). It is because of Bond’s dependency on M, and the awareness that he is being used by him, that we can agree with Eco’s claim that “The Bond–M relationship presupposes a psychological ambivalence, a reciprocal love-hate” (“Narrative,” 148). One way in which Bond’s role as a professional agent differs from his precursor Ashenden is that we do not witness his recruitment by the British Secret Service. From the opening of the first novel, Casino Royale, Bond is already installed as 007, the man selected by M for the mission of defeating the SMERSH agent Le Chiffre at baccarat. Yet the current mission is presented as a challenge, as Bond hesitates to accept and worries that he may not be successful (Casino, 19). Like Bullivant, M has recourse to persuading Bond, appealing to his own interests, as though Bond had the option to refuse. Although Bond is a professional agent in the employment of the Secret Service, the two men sometimes act as would members of the same gentlemen’s club.21 Often the parameters of Bond’s professional life are left somewhat vague in Fleming’s novels. The details of his daily routine—his exercise regimen and choice of breakfast fare—are alluded to only fleetingly, as part of the “soft life” from which Bond wishes to escape by going on a mission. This is in contrast to the profuse amount of detail that Fleming provides about various types of objects and machines, giving the reader exact technical specifications of weapons, cars, and boats for example. Denning notes Bond’s “easy familiarity with the brand names that are the accompaniments of a consumer lifestyle” (“Licensed to Look,” 73), as a key to Bond’s version of masculinity. For Amis, the reader wants to know that the author is a professional,



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and this status then transfers to the fictional spy himself. Amis coins the term “The Fleming Effect” to describe “the imaginative use of information, whereby the pervading fantastic nature of Bond’s world, as well as the temporary, local, fantastic elements in the story, are bolted down to some sort of reality” (Dossier, 111). This “Fleming Effect” also bolsters the status of the spy as a professional, who possesses expertise about a range of consumer goods and lifestyle choices as well as about the various tools of his trade. Despite his enjoyment of the good life, Bond’s chief priority is always his job, even when he is being seduced by a beautiful female spy or wined and dined by one of his wealthy American friends (or, on occasion, entertained by his enemies). Most importantly, Bond as a trained professional killer, admires the art of bringing death. In Casino Royale, Bond admires the “cold precision” (109) of a Corsican henchman of Le Chiffre, with whom he does battle. This is the hallmark of the professional spy and assassin, and is again on display in Bond’s ruthless pursuit of villains such as Mr. Big and Goldfinger. Bond’s professional dedication to espionage and assassination creates certain resemblances to other men and women who “play the game.” Fleming could sometimes manipulate the narrative to remind us that Bond’s tastes are not unique, that they are characteristic of the class to which he belongs. For example, FRWL tricks the reader, opening with a “naked man … splayed out on his face beside the swimming pool,” whose possessions the narrator describes as those of a wealthy man, evoking the privileged milieu of Bond himself (3). Expecting the customary appearance of Bond in the opening chapter, and recognizing the “Fleming effect” of detail and brands, the reader is lured into the trap of expecting the iconic name to appear. Yet we soon learn this is not Bond: rather, it is his nemesis the Soviet assassin Donovan “Red” Grant who will be sent by SMERSH to eliminate Bond.22 Unlike other villains, which serve to contrast Bond’s “beauty and virility” by being “monstrous and sexually impotent” (Eco, 148) Grant—with his impressive physique and good looks—is rather a disturbing double of Bond, reflecting the dark side of the potent professional agent. Identifying Grant as one of “three vicarious figures” (Eco, 149), Eco notes Grant’s “small cruel mouth” (149), a feature that is also assigned to Bond. Fleming enhances the duality of the two by implying recognition between them at Trieste (222). This proves to be a disastrous misreading of the situation—Grant being in fact the SMERSH agent sent to assassinate Bond. Yet the recognition also indicates a kind of professional brotherhood, reflecting a similarity of training, methods, and behavior in rival agents that at times overrides their opposing ideologies.23 The realism in Fleming’s novels is to be found less in their portrayal of espionage, than in a specific set of tastes that is evoked by Bond’s name,

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and serves as a signifier of his social status and life style: as Pierre Bourdieu writes, “Taste, the propensity and capacity to appropriate (materially or symbolically) a given class of classified, classifying objects or practices, is the generative formula of life-style, a unitary set of distinctive preferences” (173). The emphasis on Bond’s material consumption and his adorning and gratifying of his body serve to define both his identity and his social function: according to Bourdieu, “the body is the most indisputable materialization of class taste, which it manifests in several ways” (190).24 At various points in the novels, Fleming reminds us that Bond is in fact a consuming “machine.” His consumption is most clearly defined by an array of gadgets and other technological devices that serve as vital appendages to his identity. Bond’s ease and mastery of technology is one key insignia of the character’s modernity, his place in a modern postwar world. Inevitably, machines and gadgets are a key component of the Bond plots, and Amis gives them pride of place amongst the “objects” that “confer status” in the novels (Bond, 99).25 Fittingly, Bond owns (or is an exclusive user of) a variety of well-crafted machines: his turbocharged Bentley, the gadget-laden Aston Martin the Beretta .25, the Walther PPK automatic, underwater diving equipment used in Thunderball.26 Such objects, described by an apparently omniscient narrator, become part of the structural strategy of Fleming’s novels. In his interactions with—and at times dependence on—these machines, Bond comes to embody “that realistic (but not resigned) hedonism and skeptical (but not cynical) materialism” (Bourdieu, 190) that defines the new bourgeoisie. This materialism is not simply a function of Bond’s behavior however. In the course of the novels, Bond himself becomes a “brand”—another desirable icon of a consumer culture—that is transferrable to other media. Bond’s access to such desirable brands vouches for his professional status as a member of the bourgeoisie. Such references invest Bond’s name itself with the prestige of an exclusive label.27 In commercial terms, the company responsible for marketing Bond was Glidrose Productions, which Fleming acquired after writing Casino Royale, and to which he assigned most of the rights of this and future novels.28 This brand would continue long after Fleming’s death, with the appointment of other writers (including Amis himself, under the pseudonym of Robert Markham, with 1968s Colonel Sun) to carry the Bond mantle.29 The theme of Bond’s consumption inevitably raises the issue of sexuality in Bond’s world. Women arguably become one of the commodities that Bond consumes in the course of his adventures. One of the distinctive modernizations in the spy thriller as written by Fleming, compared to earlier proponents such as Buchan, is the prominent role given to sex. Unlike Hannay, Bond is highly sex-conscious from his first appearance in Casino Royale in which he approves of Vesper Lynd’s “square cut bodice, lasciviously tight across her



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fine breasts” (33) and in general “felt her presence strongly” (32). Michael Denning notes the groundbreaking role of sexuality in Fleming, observing “the Bond tales were the first British thrillers to make sexual encounters central to the plot and to the hero” (“Licensed to Look,” 68). Of course, the protagonists of novels by Greene and Household were also influenced by sexual desire: Household’s narrator in Rogue Male ultimately reveals that his attempt to assassinate the foreign dictator (i.e., Hitler) was in revenge for the killing of his Jewish lover by the Nazis. However, Bond is defined less by attachment to a specific woman than by a serial, promiscuous deployment of sexuality on a variety of nubile females. Writing of Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, Elisabeth Ladenson writes “Once she has accepted Bond’s terms, she incarnates merely the generic object, the hole that Bond briefly fills, as he does with Jill Masterton and as he does with all the other girls in all the other stories” (“Pussy,” 198). It is for this reason that OHMSS—featuring a lethal struggle with 007’s nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld—is an aberration in the Bond series, for Bond’s deeper romantic feelings are the focus of this novel, as he becomes involved with Tracy, daughter of the crime boss Marc-Ange Draco. As though recognizing this “error,” Fleming kills Tracy off in the final scene of the novel. For Bond, marriage seems to be the ultimate taboo for the professional spy. Despite being offered a munificent dowry of “one million pounds in gold” (OHMSS, 48), Bond is initially reluctant to become involved with Tracy, pointedly reminding Draco, “I have my profession” (48) (this despite having penned a letter of resignation to M earlier in the novel). Bond goes on to insist on his ruthlessness (49), suggesting that love would conflict with his lethal occupation as a spy. However, Bond eventually falls in love with Tracy and marries her. This is the only time that Bond marries in the novels (though he becomes engaged to Kissy Suzuki in YOLT), and the union is short-lived: Bond’s marital happiness is brought to a violent end by Blofeld and his henchwoman Irma Bunt, who assassinate Tracy as the newlyweds drive to their honeymoon. Besides presenting an unusually tragic denouement for a Bond novel, the conclusion of OHMSS undoes the novel’s violation of a key aspect of Bond’s status—that he remains single. The reasons Bond cannot be married are manifold: firstly, because of his abhorrence for the idea of having to be responsible for someone else; secondly, because it would hamper his operation as a spy in the service of his country. Thirdly, because marriage would presumably limit the sexual adventuring that is a crucial component of the Bond formula, or at least place his philandering in a more dubious light. As such, fourthly—and most importantly—it would lessen Bond’s effectiveness as a fantasy-figure with which the reader can identify, one that offers escapism both from the drudgery of

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daily labour and the stresses of domestic/family life for the readers. Bond’s vaunted sexual power is illustrated, for example, in his ability to “convert” the lesbian, Pussy Galore, to heterosexuality: As Ladenson notes, “she abandons both criminality (Goldfinger) and homosexualitly (Tilly) not because she sees the error of her ways but because in Bond she finds the Real Man she hadn’t known she was looking for” (“Pussy,” 196). While the sexually charged and promiscuous Bond is already present in Fleming’s novels, his appetites apparently increase in the films, a symptom of the “permissive society” of the 1960s, compared to Fleming’s novels. If Bond’s heroic adventures, global domination, and clear supremacy vis-à-vis the CIA are fantasies of Britain’s continued imperial dominance, then Bond’s sexual potency might seem to derive from his general omnipotence. However, as Toby Miller notes, Bond’s sexual antics can be interpreted contrarily as evidence of Britain’s imperial decline rather than its continuing potency, due to “his lack of moral fibre and an open sexuality that assumed the legitimacy of strong women desiring heterosexual sex outside marriage” (“James Bond’s penis,” 235). Interestingly it is the desire of women for Bond—rather than Bond’s desire for them—that Miller cites as evidence of “open sexuality.” Most accounts of Bond’s sexuality have focused rather on him as a sexual consumer—or indeed predator—of women. Christine Bold notes, of women in the Bond novels, “Whatever skills female characters demonstrate, however, their one great prowess—insisted on by narrative voice and Bond’s own comments—resides in their bodies” (“Under the very skirts,” 172). Rosie White, noting that women are often portrayed as eroticized objects in spy fiction, focuses on the consuming power of Bond’s “gaze”: “Just as Bond fixes ‘the girl’ within the libidinal economy of heterosexuality, so the pleasure she represents is fixed within consumer culture by Bond’s gaze” (Violent, 27). Implicitly, however, Bond is more subversive in terms of gender politics as an object of desire, rather than as a desiring subject. Two points in particular help to shed some light on the complex role of sexuality in the Bond novels and films, as well as the relation between this sexuality and Bond’s role as a spy. The first is that Bond’s sexual exploits are, more often than not, intimately connected with his mission as a spy. I do not simply mean that Bond’s sexual adventures take place in the course of a mission: indeed how could they not, given that the whole raison d’etre and starting point of a Bond novel and film is that 007 is sent on a mission? Rather, I mean that Bond uses his sexual power as a way of gaining secret information and/or some specific advantage over his enemy. While he may lament being persuaded by M into “pimping for England,” this use of Bond’s sexuality on a mission is actually quite typical of Bond narratives.30 Some of Bond’s relationships are with female agents and colleagues, and as such inevitably form part of his professional identity. Vesper Lynd in



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Casino Royale is the chief example of mixing business with pleasure, but Gala Brand in Moonraker is also a professional colleague, being employed by Scotland Yard to spy on Sir Hugo Drax using the cover of her role as his assistant. She and Bond become involved in a relationship, they go through several brushes with death, and Bond fantasizes, after the mission, about whisking her away to the south of France. However, Brand, like Vesper, is in fact involved with another man and while she, unlike Vesper, survives, her future is not with Bond. In fact, many of the women Bond becomes involved with do have close connections to, and are sometimes sexually involved with, the villain. By seducing them, Bond not only acquires an ally in the enemy’s camp, but also strikes a blow against the villain’s ego. Jill Masterton in Goldfinger is Goldfinger’s girlfriend though she denies that Goldfinger has a sexual interest in her (39). Pussy Galore is a lesbian employed by Goldfinger, and apparently converted to heterosexuality by Bond. In Live and Let Die, Bond seduces Solitaire in part because she has privileged access to the criminal plots of Mr. Big (an acronym for his full name, Buonaparte Ignace Gallia [18]), the Harlem gangster who uses drugs and voodoo to control the black population. Bond’s relationship with Tatiana in FRWL is the most extreme example of his seducing a woman as part of a mission, in order to obtain a Spektor decoding machine. Of course, Tatiana is in fact the bait in an elaborate honey-trap to lure Bond into the fatal konspiratsia planned by SMERSH. Overall, Bond’s sexual predilection rarely functions independently of his professional obligations, but is more often than not in the service of his mission. He preys even on lowly female members of the villain’s organization who have no intimate relationship with their employer. An example is when Bond, in the film of Moonraker, enters the room of Corinne Dufour, Hugo Drax’s helicopter pilot, at Drax’s Californian estate. Apparently assuming that he has come to seduce her, Dufour is nonplussed when Bond responds: “that’s not what I’m here for,” and explains that he is actually looking for “information” (Moonraker). Of course, this does not prevent Bond from sleeping with her as well, but the motive for his nocturnal visit is to raid Drax’s safe, locating top-secret information about his manufacture of poison gas. A later sequence from Moonraker perfectly illustrates Bond’s cavalier and ruthless treatment of women in the pursuit of his profession. Having made photos of Drax’s secret documents, Bond arrives at a hunting party to take leave of his host. Here he survives an assassination attempt by one of Drax’s henchmen, and is then driven away to safety in a chauffeured Rolls Royce. Immediately after his exit, Corinne arrives at the hunt in a golf cart where Drax confronts her with her betrayal of him to Bond, and informs her that he is terminating her employment. Drax then has a henchman set his hunting

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dogs on Corinne, these pursuing and brutally killing her as she runs through the woods. The sound of bells tolling—symbolizing her death—serve as a bridge to the next scene in Venice, where Bond is chauffeured by gondola and will engage on another relationship with CIA agent Holly Goodhead. The sequence shows the dispensability of Bond’s love interests, as well as Bond’s indifference to the disasters that befall his female helpers and lovers. The obvious exception to Bond’s romantic immunity is his love for Tracy in OHMSS; firstly, because he falls for her before knowing her powerful parentage, and secondly because he is in rebellion against M and SIS when their affair begins. However, Tracy becomes a kind of bargaining chip by which her father, Draco, offers information about Blofeld in exchange for Bond agreeing to take Tracy out to dinner, even though Bond admits he cannot marry his daughter. Draco’s open offer of help (49) is seized upon by Bond as an opportunity to obtain vital information about Blofeld’s whereabouts. When Draco tells him what he wants to know, Bond is excited at the prospect of finding his enemy, rather than marrying Tracy (51). Hence even his relationship with Tracy is influenced by her usefulness to his mission: his chief passion is for tracking down his nemesis.31 Marriage, and the domesticated private life it suggests, seems to be irreconcilable with the professional agent’s solitary lifestyle, and the risks that accompany it. Bond tells Draco, “You must see that I cannot take the responsibility, however much I am attracted by your daughter” (OHMSS, 49). In the film of OHMSS Bond tells Tracy, “an agent can’t marry”—and this leads Bond to the surely unthinkable conclusion that he must find another job. For of course being a professional spy is more than just “a job”—it is a way of life, or rather the basis of an identity, and the agent is both empowered and hampered by the challenges of the work. Even Bond’s intention to “resign” from the Secret Service seems naïve, for he surely knows too much to be allowed to walk away.32 Bond becomes sexually involved with several women in each of his adventures: Amis’s conservative estimate of just over one woman per novel is surely exceeded by the films.33 Yet these encounters are rarely sustainable. Moreover, they may lead him into serious danger, jeopardizing his mission and even his survival. No less significant, Bond’s sexual liaisons often prove harmful or fatal to the women he becomes involved with. The list of Bond’s sexual partners who meet a grisly fate is substantial. Vesper Lynd, in Casino Royale, reveals herself as a Soviet double agent and commits suicide. Gala Brand, Bond’s colleague in Moonraker, is almost killed by a rockfall while making love to Bond on a beach and, arguably, only survives due to her decision to return to her fiancé at the end of the novel. Jill Masterton and her sister Tilly are both killed by Goldfinger’s henchman, Oddjob (Jill, symbolically, by being sprayed with gold paint), due to the fact



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that Bond sleeps with or desires them. Tracy di Vicenzo is, as we have seen, assassinated at the end of OHMSS having just married the spy. The catalog of female casualties in the films is even more daunting: Aki, Bond’s Japanese helper in YOLT, who saves Bond’s life, is assassinated by the enemy, as is Paula, Bond’s assistant in Thunderball. Both women are killed explicitly because of their closeness to Bond. Likewise, Andrea (Maud Adams), Scaramanga’s lover in The Man with the Golden Gun, is assassinated by the villain because she betrays him to Bond. The list could go on, but the main point of citing these examples is to emphasize the function of women in many of the Bond novels and films as an object of rivalry and competition between Bond and the villain, undercutting any attempt to represent the female character as an independent agent. Moreover, despite the fact that the Bond novels and films are known (even notorious) for freewheeling sexuality (at least for their times), one could argue that the attitude towards female sexuality is quite puritanical. Those women who are overtly sexual and make themselves available to Bond, are punished for this flagrant display of desire by being eliminated, serving as a warning that female libido is dangerous. Moreover, such sexual liaisons are portrayed as a distraction to Bond, and represent the risk that he might abandon or fail at his mission due to his love for a woman. The elimination of the sexualized female thus becomes part of the Bond “formula,” a test of the spy’s emotional toughness and professional focus.34 One could make the biographical argument that the gruesome fates suffered by women in Bond novels reveals Fleming’s (perhaps unconscious) hostility and aggression towards women. Having a highly domineering mother, who frequently reminded him of his shortcomings, Fleming struggled to establish his independence, and sought to compete with his apparently more gifted brother, Peter. Later in life, Fleming became obsessed with Ann Charteris, then the wife of another man, Baron Rothermere, and pursued her relentlessly although he refused to marry her. Andrew Lycett writes, “their curious uncommitted relationship had worked well enough in similar circumstances during the war, so why hurry to end it now? Indeed its very lack of structure appealed to Ian, enabling him to devote his energies to other engagements” (Lycett, 162). For much of his life Fleming was tortured by feelings of inferiority and inadequacy—overshadowed by both his father and his elder brother— and partly wrote the Bond novels to prove to Ann and her circle that he had literary ability, yet continued “to feel that Ann’s friends looked down on him and his literary efforts” (Lycett, 261). Fleming was also a compulsive womanizer, who enjoyed making conquests of the attractive females he encountered (Lycett, 295). As Bond is frequently violent towards women, it is unsurprising that Fleming’s secret agent usually proves such a destructive force for the women in his orbit. Kingsley Amis, for one,

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argued in The Bond Dossier that Bond is not abusive towards women, but generally kind and affectionate. Of course, Amis’s study was written in the 1960s, when different attitudes towards women perhaps prevailed. By today’s standards Bond’s treatment of women, as Ms. Moneypenny advises him in the film GoldenEye, qualifies as “sexual harassment” (GoldenEye) or in some cases physical abuse. Moneypenny, of course, is the important exception to this rule of a singlenovel/film appearance by women: Bond’s relationship with Moneypenny appears flirtatious and affectionate rather than intimately sexual, and it is characterized—especially in the film versions—by various innuendos and promises of sexual favors that are never, as far as we know, delivered upon.35 When Bond asks Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) in GoldenEye, “what would I do without you?” her response is deflating: “As far as I can remember, James, you’ve never had me” (GoldenEye). The role of Moneypenny—like those of Bond and M—has been played by several different actors, although the fiction insists that each is the “same” character throughout. Yet arguably, Moneypenny is the woman of most importance to Bond’s professional identity: certainly until the first female “M” appears in GoldenEye. Moneypenny is introduced in Casino Royale as an attractive women who is however outside Bond’s sexual interest: “Miss Moneypenny would have been desirable but for eyes which were cool and direct and quizzical” (Casino, 17). It is significant that it is her “eyes” that limit her desirability, suggesting that her own gaze turns back on Bond, and that she is not merely a sexual object. Her name suggests a common currency of low value, rather than the high financial transactions evoked by Bond’s name (not to mention his professional missions involving precious commodities such as gold and diamonds). Yet Moneypenny’s role in Bond’s professional life is essential, in that she grants him access to M, Bond’s commanding officer who issues him with his orders. Hence she is an indispensable mediator between the men, smoothing Bond’s path towards his sometimes irascible mentor. It is perhaps too easy to equate this with a maternal role, intervening between an authoritarian father figure (M) and an unruly, rebellious son (Bond). But unlike the mother in the Oedipal scenario, Moneypenny is clearly not a serious object of desire for 007. This may be the key to her longevity. Unlike other women in the Bond novels, she is not eliminated after her functions of sexual desirability and information have been exhausted. She will continue to provide Bond with useful information, but she is a reassuring presence, never threatening Bond with betrayal or unmanning desire. Moneypenny’s role is more complex than it first appears. As a secretary, she is a constant reminder of women’s subordinate role in the corporate structure of postwar Britain. At once a symbol of “the increasingly corporate structure of modern England” (Comentale, 7), Moneypenny is also a



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reminder of the matrimonial domesticity that Bond—and presumably other secret agents—seek to avoid. In the film of Goldfinger, when Bond asks her what she knows about gold, Moneypenny’s reply—“I only know the kind that you wear on the third finger of your left hand” (Goldfinger) —indicates her willingness to bond with Bond even as a marriage partner. But the lighthearted banter reveals how impossible it is for such a union to actually occur. Moneypenny on one occasion invites Bond over and offers to make him a “wonderful angel cake”—again suggesting a cozy domestic setting that Bond disavows. In the film of OHMSS Bond (Lazenby) refers to her as “Good old Moneypenny—Britain’s last line of defense!” and one might equate her with this defensive role, much as the Secret Service itself is represented as Britain’s last line of defense against foreign aggression in the form of SMERSH and SPECTRE. Yet she remains important both as M’s gatekeeper, and the professional face of the secret service, Bond’s welcoming committee when he returns from a mission. In OHMSS, it is Moneypenny who prevents Bond from resigning from the Secret Service when M takes him off the Blofeld assignment: substituting a request for a vacation for the letter of resignation Bond had dictated to her. She is a key reminder of the institutional basis of Bond’s activity as an agent, a statement that he is part of an organization—a branch of government—rather than an independent agent. Unlike the glamorous and exotic women that Bond seduces in the course of his missions—who prove dispensable and are often eliminated by the end of the narrative—Moneypenny is a permanent fixture, and serves to protect Bond from some of the drawbacks of the service. Moneypenny, then, is a reassuring anchor for Bond in a rapidly changing world. Likewise, Bond himself is a reassuring figure for the reader and viewer. For the 1950s reader (especially British) Bond was a fantasy figure who had access, in a world of postwar rationing and austerity, to luxurious material goods, expensive travel, ample sexual pleasures, while playing a meaningful role in Britain’s national interests by thwarting its enemies. In an era when the reality of Britain’s postwar decline and the loss of its empire were sinking in, Bond offers a consoling fantasy that Britain has not lost its global role, its significance as a player in world affairs, especially the Cold War. The professionalizing of the spy in Fleming’s novels is part of a wider strategy, to partner the US as leaders in the field of covert intelligence. Given the high valuation placed on professional culture in the US, Britain could hardly continue to offer the “gentleman amateur” as a serious alternative in the postwar world. Of course, the interest in and sexual involvement with women is not exclusive to the professional spy. The spies in Oppenheim’s novels are in some cases drawn into the world of intrigue due to an attraction to a woman—for

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example Wolf in The Mysterious Mr. Sabin, who is fascinated by Sabin’s companion Hélène (in fact, Sabin’s niece) when he sees her in a restaurant. Yet Bond is the first spy for whom sexual adventures are a central part of his persona and a key element to the “formula” of the Bond narrative. Eco traces this pattern to the mythical archetypes of Bond narratives: “Bond meets a woman who is dominated by him and frees her from her past, establishing with her an erotic relationship interrupted by capture by the Villain and by torture. But Bond defeats the Villain, who dies horribly, and rests from his great efforts in the arms of the woman, though he is destined to lose her” (“Narrative,” 160). However, Eco fails to mention that it is sometimes the woman who dies horribly. Bond’s modernity as a professional spy with access to advanced technologies and international intelligence networks, seems at odds with his antiquated views of women and gender relations. His view of Tilly Masterton in Goldfinger is symptomatic of this retrogressive agenda: “Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality’” (Goldfinger, 221–2). Leaving aside the question of who Tilly’s “male counterparts” are supposed to be, we can see Fleming’s attempt to rescue a patriarchal hierarchy from the postwar leveling and blurring of gender roles. Such fulminating throws a spotlight on a contradiction in Bond’s character: on the one hand, he is the “modern man” of corporate structures, technology, and material consumption. On the other, Bond is a throwback to the Victorian adventure heroes who had, ultimately, little time or respect for women. There is a pattern, then, in which the pleasures of Bond’s lifestyle—his enjoyment of good food and wine, his affairs with women—interfere with his professional work as a spy. But this is perhaps beside the point in considering the appeal of the Bond novels and films. From this base, the novels came to appeal to the rich and powerful such as John F. Kennedy. If on numerous occasions, the trappings of the lifestyle prove a distraction to the work of the agent, this is a worthwhile sacrifice. In Bond’s case, moreover, a strong sexual appeal for women is key to the agent’s professional identity. Raymond Chandler’s view that “Bond is what every man would like to be and what every woman would like to have between her sheets” (Casino Royale, cover) constructs Bond as an object of female desire and male envy. Yet this appeal is, like Bond’s other attributes, sacrificed or subordinated to the professional mission in hand. Despite the efforts of the enemy to use women to undermine or trap Bond, he is often successful in turning the tables, and using his sexual appeal to gain crucial assistance and information from women. Rather than being reduced to a diminished cousin and satellite of the US—which is the stark truth in the realistic spy novels of le Carré, Deighton,



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and Cumming—Britain, in Fleming’s fiction and the Bond films, takes the lead in the West’s (or NATO’s) crusade against the demonic villains of SMERSH and SPECTRE. The key point perhaps is that Britain’s intelligence service remains second to none, despite its relative lack of resources and military power (relative, that is, to the US and the Soviet Union).36 Whereas the development of an independent nuclear program required a vast commitment of resources, maintaining a first-rate intelligence service could be done less expensively. Peter Hennessy has detailed how important it was to Britain’s sense of identity as a world power to maintain an independent nuclear deterrent in the 1950s and 1960s, despite the crippling cost of defense spending (The Secret State, 46–80 passim). Where Ipcress File suggests the futility of a British nuclear deterrent—as a British spy, Dalby, betrays American nuclear tests on Taiwe Atol—Fleming’s novels display more national pride and celebrate the idea of Britain’s independence in military and intelligence affairs. At times, indeed, Fleming’s emphasis on the superiority of the SIS smacks of nationalist propaganda. Felix Leiter is a key figure in this respect: Leiter represents the more powerful American CIA, yet he is portrayed as Bond’s sidekick, assisting him but letting Bond dominate the mission. As Christopher Moran writes, “A recurring theme is that Leiter provides the technical support, money, and added muscle when required, but Bond has the superior tradecraft and is always the one who takes the final stand against the villain. In casting the CIA in the role of junior partner in the alliance, Fleming flatters his British readers with fantasy” (“Ian Fleming,” 125). It was the objections to this elevation of Bond to the role of international superspy that led to the more realistic novels of Fleming’s successors. It is these more realistic—or, more cynical—versions of professional espionage that we shall consider in the following chapter. However, in concluding this discussion of James Bond, it is worth pointing out that—just as Fleming’s work reveals the influence of his predecessors such as Buchan and Maugham—Bond’s huge influence as a fictional spy is nowhere more apparent than in the “realistic” reactions against him, and challenges to his dominance, in the work of subsequent writers and filmmakers.

NOTES 1. This is only counting the “official” entries in the Bond film canon: those sponsored by EON Productions. It does not include unofficial Bond films such as the first Casino Royale (dir Val Guest et al., 1967), or the remake of Thunderball, entitled Never Say Never Again (dir Irvin Kershner, 1983). At the time of writing, the twentyfourth official Bond film—SPECTRE—is due for release in late 2015.

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2. See also Ben Macintyre, For Your Eyes Only Chapter 001 and Chapter 003, e.g., “Chief among the contenders [as basis for Bond] is, of course, Fleming himself. The physical descriptions of 007 recall his creator… . Fleming sometimes played up the autobiographical aspects of Bond, and sometimes downplayed them” (50–1). 3. As an example, Macintyre argues that “Fleming would probably have been at least tangentially involved” in Operation Mincemeat, the most famous British deception plot during World War II “which involved planting a corpse with fake papers on the coast of Spain to persuade the Nazis that the Allies would attack Greece and Sardinia rather than Sicily” (For Your Eyes 68). For more detailed accounts of this legendary operation, see works by Ewen Montagu and Ben Macintyre. 4. M is discussed at greater length in chapter 8 on the Spymaster. 5. Of course this is not to imply that all recruitments of amateur spies involve flattery. An interesting example of the more pragmatic approach is Helen MacInnes’ Above Suspicion (1941). The Oxford don, Richard Myles, is recruited with his wife Frances by an old friend Peter Galt, who presents the mission in blunt terms and uses the couple’s respectability—rather than special skills—to justify his choice. Explaining his surprise visit, Peter states: “The reason is I have a job for you to do, and I hope you’ll agree to do it. It shouldn’t be dangerous; tiresome, perhaps, and certainly a blasted nuisance, but not actually dangerous if you stick to the directions … You are just the people we need for it. You are both above any suspicion, and you’ve a good chance of getting through” (12). 6. According to Jeffery, R “has been identified as John Wallinger, who took Maugham on for his War Office intelligence network in 1915” (Secret History, 237). The relationship between Ashenden and R is discussed in more detail in chapter 8 on the Spymaster. 7. The recent BBC TV series, Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond (starring Dominic Cooper as Fleming) which premiered on BBC America in January 2014, can be considered an attempt to reinstate Fleming as the creator of the famous spy hero. However, the series can only achieve this by sensationalizing Fleming’s own wartime exploits as a member of 30AU—implying that he was the man of action that he never was—in order to heighten (in fictional terms) the resemblance to Bond. 8. In his notes and journals for The Hazard Mesh—his memoir of his experiences as a member of AU30—John Anthony Crawford Hugill makes clear the antagonism that existed between some of its senior officers and Fleming. The manuscript material is held in Churchill Archive Center, Cambridge. For a useful account of 30AU, see Nicholas Rankin, Fleming’s Ian Fleming’s Commandos: The Legendary 30 Assault Unit (New York: Oxford UP, 2011). For Fleming’s relationship with Godfrey, see Lycett, Ian Fleming esp 103–104, 132. 9. A couple of exceptions to this impression come to mind. The first is from the “non-official” Bond film, Never Say Never Again (1983) in which the “Q” character (called Algernon) responsible for equipping Bond (Sean Connery) complains about lack of resources and says he’d leave if the CIA made him an offer. The second is from 2006s Casino Royale, in which Felix Leiter bails James Bond (Daniel Craig) out by donating his chips after Bond has been cleaned out by Le Chiffre. Leiter’s only condition is that, if Bond is successful, the CIA be allowed to bring Le Chiffre in.



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When Bond asks “what about the winnings?” Leiter replies “does it look like we need the money?” (Casino). 10. For example, in the film Octopussy the eponymous heroine (Maud Adams) defends herself from Bond’s criticisms by rejecting his right, as a “paid assassin,” to find fault with her. 11. Bond clearly hopes that this manual would, when completed, be included in the Secret Service library (46), however there is no further reference to it after this chapter of Goldfinger. 12. It is significant, for example that both Richard Hannay and the protagonist of Rogue Male, are independently wealthy gentlemen. Hannay has made his fortune as a mining engineer in South Africa, while Household’s hero appears to have inherited wealth. 13. In this sense his origins are to be found in the far-fetched, romanticized exploits of Duckworth Drew (Le Queux’s creation) and Richard Hannay (Buchan’s protagonist), rather than the secret agents of Conrad, Greene, and Ambler, who are usually motivated by money or threat of scandal. 14. For example, Bond displays his superior taste in identifying the faults of a brandy in the film Goldfinger, and shows advanced knowledge of vintage sherry in Diamonds Are Forever. In both cases, M’s is portrayed as the lesser palate. In other cases, however, a lack of knowledge about wine is a method by which Bond identifies a villain, such as Grant in From Russia with Love, or Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) in Diamonds Are Forever. 15. Bond, of course, is a global figure rather than exclusively British. It is an interesting question, why and how other nations (including former parts of Britain’s empire) are also imaginatively invested in the perpetuation of a fantasy about Britain’s global power. One explanation is that Bond ultimately does not represent any one nation, but a fantasy of individual agency in defiance of bureaucratic control. 16. Released in 1977, the year of Queen Elizbeth’s Silver Jubilee, The Spy Who Loved Me is arguably the most overtly patriotic of the Bond films. Prior to using the abovementioned Union Jack parachute, Bond makes a quick exit from the arms of his passionate lover who complains, “James, I need you,” Bond responding “so does England.” At the end of the film, when he is atop Agent XXX (Barbara Bach) and asked by M what he is doing, Bond answers, “keeping the British end up, sir!” (Spy Who). The expansion of Bond’s patriotism from England to Britain is itself significant. 17. As will be discussed in chapter 7, on the Villain, a prosthetic appendage or device is a frequent bodily characteristic of the villain in Bond novels and films. Hence, with his prosthetic hook, Felix is arguably “villainized” in comparison to Bond, making him less his colleague than an antagonist. Though ostensibly an ally, there are occasions where it seems America is actually an enemy in Fleming’s imaginary. 18. At this point Bond assumes that his associate will be a man. When he learns that M has sent a female agent to assist him, he is furious (Casino 25–6). 19. This awareness of his own dispensability is used by M to coerce Bond into cooperating: “if you’re not willing to take this mission dispassionately, then 008 can replace you,” M tells Bond in the film of Goldfinger.

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20. In the film version of OHMSS, Bond is removed from Operation Bedlam (the mission to track down and eliminate Blofeld) because he has failed to achieve his objective after two years. In the film, Bond dictates a letter of resignation to Moneypenny, who substitutes a request for two-weeks leave which is granted. Hence, the breach with M is less significant than in the novel. 21. An interesting departure in the film version of Casino Royale concerns Bond’s origins as a 00-agent. In the pre-title sequence, we witness Bond complete the “two kills” necessary to become a 00. M (Judi Dench) will later express regret at promoting him to 007, another direct allusion to his recruitment to this special section. 22. Bond himself does not appear until Part Two of the novel, where he is suffering from “the soft life,” and is only rescued by M assigning him a mission. This substitution illustrates, perhaps, Kinsley Amis’s point that “the secret agent fantasy is marked by being totally portable” (Bond Dossier, 14). 23. There would be other occasions where Bond is on the brink of elimination; and in You Only Live Twice, Fleming even writes his character’s obituary, as discussed in chapter 1. Bond’s obituary does double or even triple duty. It reminds the reader of Bond’s vulnerability, of Fleming’s power to kill off his hero (as he apparently had at the end of FRWL). It highlights the novel’s rejection of realism, and yet, paradoxically Fleming also implies that his stories are in fact based on actual intelligence operations, only the form of romantic fiction being able to disguise the breach of official secrecy. 24. Bourdieu further notes, “it is in fact through preferences with regard to food … and also, of course, through the uses of the body in work and leisure which are bound up with them, that the class distribution of bodily properties is determined” (Distinction, 190). 25. Amis focuses on the machines that Bond observes in the possession of others, or uses temporarily, rather than those he owns. In an appendix to The James Bond Dossier, however, he discusses the proliferation of gadgets in Bond fiction (145–7). 26. Bond’s reactions to others are also mechanical: his name would also become associated with a range of automatic reactions: a skepticism towards authority, mingled with a respect for M, a distrust of women, and a tendency to view them as sexual objects rather than equals. When M assigns him a female colleague in Casino, Bond is implies that they will hamper his machine: “Women were for recreation. On a job, they got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around” (27). Here the misogyny is outweighed by respect for a male superior, a typical Bond gesture. 27. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a brand as “a make or kind of goods bearing a trade mark” (OED). There may be a knowing reference to this brandconsciousness in the second novel, Moonraker, in which the heroine is named Gala Brand. In her first name we have allusion to an upper-class social occasion, and in her last name a reminder that Bond’s name has become a brand. 28. The company would later be renamed Glidrose Publications. 29. The fullest expression of Bond’s portability is the transfer of 007 to other media, specifically film. The film versions of Fleming’s novels would be controlled by a different company, Eon Productions, co-founded by Albert “Cubby” Broccoli



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and Harry Salzman in 1961, as a means to finance the first Bond film Dr No (1962). Bond’s name was by this time a recognizable, marketable commodity. It would be supported by key logos such as the 007, the gun barrel image and (in musical form) the James Bond theme composed by Monty Norman. As his biographers attest, bringing James Bond to the screen was a longtime dream of Fleming’s and he worked tirelessly to achieve this goal. See for example Lycett, Ian Fleming Chapter 12 (esp 343–75) 30. The film of You Only Live Twice plays on the inseparability of Bond’s sexuality and his profession: when Bond is apparently assassinated in Hong Kong, having been betrayed by his Chinese lover, one of the British Hong Kong policemen comments: “Well, at least he died on the job,” to which his partner replies, “He’d have wanted it this way.” The double meaning of “on the job”—having sex, as well as conducting one’s work—is appropriate for Bond. 31. In the film of OHMSS—which generally stays quite close to the novel—the arrangement is somewhat different. Draco asks Bond to marry Tracy and offers him $1M, but it is Tracy who demands that her father tell Bond what he wants to know about Blofeld with no obligations, “or you will never see me again.” In a sequence that is created for the film, Bond breaks into the offices of the lawyer Gerbruder who is in correspondence with Blofeld. Tracy, in other words, refuses to be the object of exchange in Peter Hunt’s film. 32. Despite certain parallels between the professional spy and the Civil Service bureaucrat, the difficulty in resigning from SIS marks one clear difference. In the film Licence to Kill (1989), Bond (Timothy Dalton) again attempts to offer his resignation to M, when M refuses to let him pursue the men who crippled Felix Leiter and killed his wife. M’s response—“This isn’t a country club!”—confirms that one doesn’t just “quit” the Secret Service: instead Bond’s license is revoked and his weapons taken away. 33. Amis’s James Bond Dossier was published in 1965, after the first four Bond films had been released, yet he makes little mention of the cinematic version of Bond. This leads to some significant areas of neglect, especially in terms of Bond’s sexual adventures and his use of gadgetry and technology. 34. One might add that Bond’s erotic exploits also make him vulnerable to betrayal. This threat is apparent from the first entry in the Fleming series, Casino Royale, where Bond becomes involved with Vesper Lynd, another British agent who is working to defeat Le Chiffre. Bond is dismissive of Vesper as a colleague, objecting to the fact that he has been paired with a woman agent. As it turns out, Bond’s misgivings are well founded, in that Lynd is in fact a Soviet double agent who has betrayed Bond to the enemy, almost undoing the whole mission to strip Le Chiffre (a leading SMERSH agent) of his funds by defeating him at baccarat. The discovery that Lynd—with whom he was falling in love—has betrayed him, creates an emotional crisis for Bond, who announces bitterly at the end: “the bitch is dead now” (Casino, 181). 35. The exception is Skyfall, in which Bond and Moneypenny apparently conduct a sexual affair on their mission in Macau. Whether this portends future romantic entanglements between the couple remains to be seen.

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36. The contradiction inherent in Bond’s persona has been noted by Stephen B. Tippins, Jr. who observes: 007’s Britain is antiquated. It’s not the Britain of Cameron and Clegg. It’s the one with a penchant for staying tyrants—of either the mustachioed or the vertically-challenged variety—and the one that gave us pocket calculators, steel warships, jet airplanes, and loads of other cool stuff. Bond’s Britain is relevant, wealthy, and influential, still a beacon of Western ingenuity. This as opposed to the more accurate depiction of the sterile, cynical, stymied Britain of, say, George Smiley or Harry Palmer.” (“007’s Masculine Mystique”)

Chapter 5

The Post-Bond Cold Warriors

Is there such a phenomenon as the post-Bond spy? As 2012 both marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Bond films, with the twenty-third official film Skyfall, and saw the publication of William Boyd’s James Bond novel Solo, it seems premature to talk of Bond’s demise. It is well known that Ian Fleming grew tired of James Bond, and tried several times to kill him off, most famously at the end of FRWL (the fifth novel) and YOLT (the twelfth), in which M writes Bond’s obituary. Ultimately, though, it was Fleming who died prematurely, in 1964—while under considerable stress over the legal dispute with Kevin McClory about the authorship of Thunderball. By contrast his iconic creation has survived well into the next century and, despite a hiatus or two between films, shows no signs of retiring.1 Clearly, James Bond was too popular and lucrative a literary property to allow him to die with his creator. Following Fleming’s death, the author’s estate—Glidrose Publications—opted to allow another writer to pen a new adventure starring James Bond. This author was Kingsley Amis, who had established his 007 credentials by publishing the first book-length study of Fleming’s hero, The James Bond Dossier, in 1965. Amis, under the pen name Robert Markham, penned the first of the post-Fleming Bond novels, Colonel Sun, which enjoyed a generally positive reception. After this one-off by Amis, several other writers have been appointed by Glidrose to carry the Bond mantle.2 During the 1990s, the company’s name was changed from Glidrose Publications to Ian Fleming Publications. Since 2003, Ian Fleming Publications has opted to invite already-established novelists to write “oneoff” Bond stories, the most well-known of which are Sebastian Faulks’s Devil May Care (2008) and William Boyd’s Solo (2012).3 It is fair to claim that, both as a literary character and as a cinematic icon, James Bond is alive and 149

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well. Yet one must also acknowledge that the course of the British spy novel since Fleming’s death has taken a very different direction than that plotted by Bond’s creator. Indeed by using the term “post-Bond” I am referring not to Bond’s obsolescence but to a significant shift in focus and attitude that took place in the spy novel from the 1960s. Even while Fleming was still alive and penning Bond’s adventures, new writers were emerging to challenge Bond’s preeminence, and seeking to offer more realistic, gritty, and (it may be said) cynical accounts of the professional spy’s role in postwar espionage. Chief among the early group of “anti-Bond” writers were Len Deighton, who burst onto the scene with The Ipcress File in 1962, and John le Carré, who arguably changed the course of spy fiction with his third novel, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963). Though very different writers from each other, Deighton and le Carré would each redefine the popular understanding of and audience for the modern spy story, combining a gritty cynicism (le Carré’s trademark) and mordant satirical humor (Deighton’s forté) to undermine the gadget-driven, glamorous image of the Bondian spy. Living and writing long after Fleming’s untimely demise in 1964, both writers have had a profound and enduring influence on later spy fiction, arguably reshaping the entire field. They were followed by younger novelists such as Brian Freemantle, Frederick Forsyth, while old master Graham Greene also returned to the spy genre in the 1970s and 1980s.4 NAMING MR. “X” The change began in 1962—the year in which the first Bond film, Dr No, was released—when the course of the spy novel—and arguably of British postwar fiction—was altered by the appearance of a new hero in espionage literature. The opening sentences of the first chapter of Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File introduced a new spy and first-person narrator that, in tone and form, marked a dramatic departure from the model first established by Fleming almost a decade earlier. Beginning in medias res, Deighton’s narrator impertinently addresses the audience: “I don’t care what you say, 18,000 pounds (sterling) is a lot of money. The British Government had instructed me to pay it to the man at the corner table who was now using knife and fork to commit ritual murder on a cream pastry. Jay the Government called this man” (Ipcress, 3). In this introduction, readers encounter an agent who is somewhat abrasive, concerned with money, takes his orders (reluctantly) from the “British Government,” and who displays a mocking sense of humor. As an opening to a first novel, the first paragraph of Ipcress immediately defines its change in tone from previous spy fiction. As Brian Richardson has noted, there is a



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“conceptual and emotional power concentrated in resonant opening lines of works that move us” (Narrative, 1). A key part of the power of this beginning comes from its stark contrast to the introduction of James Bond ten years earlier: “The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling—a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension—becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it. James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired” (Casino, 1). Both novels begin in medias res, and both introduce the spy that will gain his information from a top-secret document. Deighton’s opening corresponds to what James Phelan has termed the “launch” of a narrative: “the revelation of the first set of global instabilities or tensions in the narrative” (Richardson, 195). These “tensions” may be termed global, in that Deighton has already provided, in a “Prologue,” exposition that tells us the narrator is in a conference with a government “Minister” (Ipcress, 1) who has called him in to question him about a secret “dossier” (2). The narrator then complies with the Minister’s request to “tell me the whole story in your own words” (1), despite “wondering whose words I might otherwise have used” (1). What first strikes the reader of The Ipcress File is how radically it departs from the objective tone and enigmatic persona of the spy made famous by Bond. We immediately notice Deighton’s avoidance of the note of detached omniscience that characterizes Fleming’s style. Though Michael Denning has argued that Fleming’s novels “retain a certain playfulness and self-consciousness about their own status as artifacts” (Cover, 115), the novels also had literary pretensions manifested partly in the patrician background of Bond himself. The Ipcress File is narrated in the first person, by a working-class, intractable agent for WOOC(P)—Deighton’s acronym for his fictionalized civilian secret service. Deighton’s narrator lacks Bond’s distinguished background in the Services: having come to London from Burnley, via the Army, the narrator views his transfer from Military Intelligence (under Colonel Ross) to civilian (under Major Dalby) as a liberation rather than a demotion: “At last I was to be freed. Out of the Army, out of Military Intelligence, away from Ross: working as a civilian with civilians in one of the smallest and most important of the Intelligence Units” (Ipcress, 6). Where Bond’s orderly exchanges with his admired chief, M, suggest the Secret Service is a well-oiled machine, Deighton’s narrator displays a more prickly and distrustful relationship with his masters. A typical encounter between the narrator and his new boss, Dalby, marks the profound difference: “‘I’m letting you take over this whole department,’ [Dalby] said at last. ‘Now don’t get all excited, it’s only going to be for about three months, in fact less if I’m lucky. You are a bit stupid, and you haven’t had the advantage of a classical education… . But I’m sure you will be able to overcome

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your disadvantages” (Ipcress, 85).5 To this the narrator cheekily replies, “Why think so? You never overcame your advantages” (85).6 From the outset, Deighton breaks out of the world of social privilege and establishes a class-based antagonism at the center of his spy fiction. While inclined to identify with this refreshingly insubordinate narrator, the reader also has to factor in his biased view of events. Edward Milward-Oliver notes Deighton’s “technique of having a narrator who never quite tells us the truth of events, just as none of the characters around him offer an unbiased view of the world” (Companion, 126).7 This first-person narrator might seem a prime candidate for the term “unreliable.” And yet, this would mean that the narrator’s “values (tastes, judgments, moral sense) diverge from those of the implied author’s” (Prince, 105)—a divergence that does not occur in this case. While the Ipcress narrator is not Deighton, it would be hard to argue that he is utterly different from his author. However, as Milward-Oliver warns us, “readers who accept the heroes’ subjective account of events as the objective truth miss much of the intended content of these novels” (Companion,126). Indeed, the anti establishment persona of Deighton’s spy is both a reflection of Deighton’s own working-class background and a historical reaction to the 1950s spy scandals in which well-bred, highly educated members of Britain’s ruling elite (Burgess, Maclean, et al.) turned out to be Soviet double agents and traitors.8 Unlike Fleming and le Carré, Deighton did not attend public school or university, but instead attended art college, prior to becoming a highly successful graphic designer. Deighton’s perspective from outside the ruling-class elite sabotages the cozy camaraderie between the spy and his controller, which is sealed in Fleming’s novel by M providing his agent with not only an exciting mission, but also the best cars and guns and human resources that money can buy. In humorous contrast, Deighton’s underpaid spy arrives at work to find “A little grey rusting Morris 1000 … at the kerb, Alice at the controls. I was pretending I hadn’t seen her when she called out to me” (Ipcress, 35). The narrator’s obvious embarrassment at driving such a decrepit machine—in the company of a secretary who is no Miss Moneypenny— is matched by the disillusionment with his new surroundings: Dalby’s building “is in one of those sleazy long streets in the district that would be Soho, if Soho had the strength to cross Oxford Street” (8). We note the contrast to M’s office, which enjoys a “window looking out at the late spring green of the trees in Regent’s Park” (Fleming, Moonraker 8). The front of a shady private detective agency seems to mock the grandiose imperial pretensions of “Universal Exports,” that covers for SIS activities in Fleming’s fiction. In some respects more proletarian than Bond, Deighton’s narrator nonetheless displays specific preferences as a consumer, priding himself on his discriminating taste in epicurean matters. Early in the narrative, for example,



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he informs us “I bought two packets of Gauloises, sank a quick grappa with Mario and Franco at the Terrazza, bought a Statesman, some Normandy butter and garlic sausage” (Ipcress, 20).9 In contrast to Bond’s traditional, even conservative, English preferences—his cigarettes are made for him by “Morlands of Grosvenor Street” (Moonraker, 9), he drives a Bentley— the Ipcress narrator’s tastes are distinctly European. Preferring grappa and wine to exotic cocktails, Deighton’s hero is chastised by his lover Samantha Steele—in the third novel, Funeral in Berlin—for his failure to make a dry martini (Bond’s signature drink) to her satisfaction. Ignoring Bond’s elaborate cocktail recipe from Casino Royale—the “Vesper” martini—the narrator uses “Vermouth and gin” eliciting the response “It’s filthy … Pour it away and do it again” (Funeral, 97).10 My frequent references in this chapter to “the narrator,” rather than providing his proper name, does more than emphasize his function over his personal identity. It is also reflection of a significant gap in the exposition of Deighton’s novel, one that would be unthinkable in Fleming’s texts. In marked contrast to Fleming who announces Bond’s name in the opening paragraph, Deighton withholds the protagonist’s name, while occasionally playing games with the reader’s expectations of identification: arriving on a mission in Rome, the narrator tells us “I was killing a minute with the paperbacks when I heard a soft voice say, ‘Hello, Harry.’ Now my name isn’t Harry, but in this business it’s hard to remember whether it ever had been” (Ipcress, 43). This is as close as we ever get to penetrating the narrator’s identity. The anonymity of the central spy character is symptomatic of Ipcress’s tongue-in-cheek rebellion against the dominance of Bond, rejecting the idea of a name “brand” and helping to establish him as (in Julian Symons’s terms) “the first anti-hero in spy fiction” (cited in Millward-Oliver, 164).11 Deighton uses the first-person narration as a paradoxical technique: on the one hand, its anonymity conceals the identity of the spy, emphasizing the secrecy requisite of the professional agent (indeed, Bond’s global fame as a secret service agent is one of the central paradoxes of Fleming’s work). On the other hand, the “warts and all” intimacy of the first-person voice demystifies the spy, offering direct access into his own often unglamorous, mundane concerns (the difficulty of getting a cab South of the Thames River [4] and getting his fair share of expenses [17] are among his worries).12 Those critics who have commented on this narrative feature of Deighton’s work have not identified it specifically as a reaction against Bond’s naming rituals. George Grella argues that Deighton deploys anonymity “as if identity itself were a shifting, unknowable, or meaningless concept in the world of espionage” (cited in Milward-Oliver, 125).13 Fred Erisman has linked the technique of anonymity to the wider fascination with deception in Deighton’s novels, asserting “Names are meaningless. The narrator’s studied anonymity

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throughout the books is no accident, for in the spy’s world, a name is a convenience and not a designator. It’s a cloak that can be donned or doffed in an instant” (“Romantic,” 103; emphasis added). Michael Denning implicitly links the “effacement and confusion of origins” (Cover, 96) of Deighton’s protagonist to a similar obscurity about Deighton’s background, noting “the jacket notes on Len Deighton’s novels … variously claim that he is the son of a chauffeur or the son of the Governor General of the Windward Islands, which have him educated at either the Royal College of Art or at Eton and Oxford, and which attribute to him a variety of jobs” (Cover, 96). Intrigued by this assumption of authorial intention in the matter of anonymity—an assumption I have perhaps shared in my own analysis—I posed this question to Len Deighton, who informed me that the anonymity was more by chance than design: “I deferred naming him and the typescript went to the publisher with him unnamed” (“Len Deighton Interview”). This small oversight—or perhaps gesture of defiance—would be compounded in Deighton’s next three novels, Horse Under Water, Funeral in Berlin, and Billion Dollar Brain—all narrated anonymously—ironically making the nameless narrator as much a trademark of his fiction as Bond’s self-identification is of Fleming’s. The narrator’s anonymity did not conform to the requirements of the film industry, however. Like Bond, Deighton’s spy hero would grab far greater popular recognition through the cinema, and when it came to transferring the character to the big screen his cryptic identity became a liability. Deighton’s story was brought to the screen by the same producer who had shepherded Bond to cinematic fame, Harry Salzman. Ironically—given that the Ipcress narrator tells us his name isn’t Harry, this is exactly what it would become in the 1965 film of The Ipcress File, whose spy hero was dubbed Harry Palmer. Deighton remarks: “It was Harry Saltzman the film producer who gave him the name. I didn’t mind and Harry said it was vital for something called ‘merchandising’” (“Len Deighton Interview”).14 Christening Palmer with his own name, Saltzman offered Deighton a further incentive to allow him to film the novel, telling him “I am the only person in the world who won’t try to make your working-class hero into some kind of James Bond” (Deighton James Bond). The film’s introduction of the protagonist of The Ipcress File also departs dramatically from Bond’s first appearance onscreen, by seeking to replicate the subjective voice of the novel: in an extreme subjective shot, our first view of Palmer’s world comes without the benefit of his National Health spectacles. Showing his blurred view of his room, soon brought into focus as he dons his eyewear, the shot at once draws attention to Palmer’s physical vulnerability of shortsightedness—we witness him groping in the bed for something (or someone) that he is unable to see—and suggests that this film will be a “blurred copy”—a kind of mimicry—of the Bond formula. In contrast to



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Bond’s first screen appearance in sharp focus in an elegant London club and casino, we first see Palmer in his modest apartment. His “mission”—in contrast to Bond’s exotic escapade to Jamaica—is a stakeout in a derelict house in a seedy neighborhood. Harry Palmer does not introduce himself by name to the film’s audience, but is first called “Palmer” in curt military fashion by his boss, Colonel Ross, a reminder of Palmer’s subordinate status.15 When Bond first appeared on the cinema screen in late 1962, the introduction was crafted by Saltzman to appeal to an increasingly prosperous audience who would like to imitate Bond’s opulent lifestsyle. By first showing Bond in a posh casino, the film of Dr No echoes the opening of Fleming’s Casino Royale, where he memorably names himself to his female opponent: “Bond, James Bond.” A line that was voted “best one-liner in cinema” by British film fans, Bond’s introduction has become an indelible part of the formula.16 Yet this fantasy of the spy’s opulent surroundings raised eyebrows, both because of the risqué nature of Bond’s encounters—he is soon shown seducing, or being seduced by, an attractive woman he meets at the casino—and due to the patent lack of realism.17 Palmer’s everyday screen persona and down-toearth appearance were designed as an antidote to the excesses of Bond. The National Health glasses, modest apartment, and broad Cockney accent, all served to distinguish Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer as much as possible from the patrician “Commander Bond.”18 Just as Palmer is rooted in the working class, so the film—with its grainy texture and seedy mise-en-scène—seems to allude to the “kitchen sink” dramas featuring angry young men in the 1950s and early 1960s. While Fleming had famously declared, “I am not an angry young, or even middle-aged man” (Chapman, 1), Deighton created a character that was an embodiment of this postwar type. There are closer connections between the Palmer films and Deighton’s novels—Ipcress, Funeral in Berlin, Billion Dollar Brain were produced in the order of the novels’s publication—in contrast to Bond movies, which jump around among the texts, cannibalizing them and ultimately moving away from Fleming altogether. Unlike Bond who has been played by six different actors, the role of Harry Palmer has been the exclusive property of Caine, adding a sense of unity to the character’s screen persona.19 Even during Fleming’s lifetime, the James Bond films had begun this process of detaching the character from the author, making the spy more famous than—and independent of—his creator. The dispute between Fleming, Kevin McClory, and Jack Whittingham over the authorship of Thunderball was, at one level, a battle over who could claim the right to “own” James Bond, who was no longer Fleming’s exclusive property.20 The films compounded this independent life of the character. The post-Fleming novels—by Kinsgley Amis, John Gardner, and others—would reaffirm Bond’s resilience to survive the death of the author. If “the Fleming effect” served to create an aura

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of realism around episodes that might otherwise seem fantastic, then Bond’s name increasingly functions as an autonomous code for a signifying practice of its own. We are sometimes told what “passed through Bond’s mind” (Casino, 5), but more typically we are witnesses to his style of behavior and consumption. We may lack insight into Bond’s specific psychology—his motives, emotions, and thoughts—but we substitute a type of knowledge based on the signifying function of his name.21 Yet even those writers who reacted critically against Bond have also benefited from the portability of the Bond image. As Len Deighton notes, it was the Bond films—rather than the novels—“that brought spies into the limelight” in popular culture, which helped to create an audience for his own debut spy novel (“Len Deighton Interview”). Despite Amis’s suggestion, “The Medium–Grade Civil Servant who Loved Me would have been more accurate” (11), the term “spy” sticks to Bond, as indeed Bond’s name has come to define the modern spy.22 However, Deighton’s narrator views espionage in a very different way than Bond, making no bones about the fact that he is spying on Jay, and “had seen film of him … every day for a month” (Ipcress 3). Rather than exotic missions overseas, the opening of Ipcress shows Palmer spying on the suspect’s house from a squalid attic, making a detailed record of their humdrum activities. The seediness—rather than the glamor—of espionage—is foregrounded in both novel and film versions of Ipcress. If Harry’s first name comes from the film’s producer, then his last name is also significant, suggestive of one who “palms” or steals.23 Notably, the film of Ipcress gives Palmer a criminal record (not present in the novel) to taint him somewhat, allowing Ross to blackmail Palmer into serving in the civilian Secret Service (the alternative is time in prison). Given the cultural dominance of the Bond films in the early 1960s, should we consider Ipcress itself as an example of theft, the result of industrial espionage? Saltzman recruited numerous Bond alumnae to work on the film, including set designer Ken Adam, composer John Barry, actor Guy Doleman, and editor Peter Hunt. One might view this as an attempt to cash in on Bond’s popularity, while also seeking to market the “Harry Palmer” brand as a distinctive product of cinematic entertainment. At no point does the protagonist introduce himself: “My name is Palmer, Harry Palmer”: the very idea seems absurd. Yet, in order to exploit the new market for spy fantasies, a named spy hero became essential for the “merchandizing” of Ipcress, which has probably supplanted Deighton’s anonymously narrated text. Indeed, as Milward-Oliver points out, “Palmer’s image is now so deeply embedded in the experience of millions of filmgoers and television viewers that many forget the character was unnamed in Deighton’s original novels” (Milward-Oliver, 221). Launched as an anti-Bond figure, with a voice unapologetically disclosing the shadowy,



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anonymous world of the professional, the newly christened Harry Palmer would instead become Bond’s chief rival in fictional espionage and, like him, a popular icon in the making. FROM SPY TO NOVELIST The increasing literary focus on professional agents in the postwar period, mirrors not just the influence of Bond and the growing professionalization of British culture but also the professional experience of spy novelists themselves, many of whom had worked in branches of the intelligence division. Spy novelists—including Fleming, Greene, le Carré, and Rimington—were themselves former intelligence agents, and drew on these experiences for their fiction while minimizing the risk of prosecution under the OSA.24 The early spy novels, featuring gentleman-amateurs, tend to offer a stark moral opposition between the patriotic heroes (Hannay, Carruthers, Drew, et al.) and the demonized foreign villains that they battle. In Bond, there generally remains a clear distinction between hero and villain, between “us” and “them,” even though Fleming’s novels include traitors and double agents. A consequence of the rise of the “professional” spy novel is that this ideological and moral polarity between world powers or national identities is diminished, even as the Cold War may seem to have deepened such oppositions in reality. The anti-Bond novelists display not just a more realistic view of espionage, but an awareness of the shared methods used by both sides of the Cold War. The more fundamental opposition in the professional spy novel is between the higher bureaucrats running operations from the central agency, with links to government, and the agents risking their lives in the field, who are often treated as pawns in a game of chess. A prime example of this contrast may be found in le Carré’s third novel, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. Though this was the novel that made le Carré’s reputation, he had already authored two novels of espionage and detection, Call for the Dead (1961) and A Murder of Quality (1962). In these novels, le Carré established the character of George Smiley, a secret service agent who would play a minor role in The Spy Who before taking center stage in the Karla Trilogy. In a 1992 introduction to Call for the Dead, le Carré describes how his experience of working in MI5 provided methods and materials for his fiction: I toiled from morning and often till late into the evening at the dossiers of people I would never meet: should we trust him? Or her? Should their employers trust them? Might he be a traitor, spy, lonely decider, a suitable case for blackmail by the unscrupulous opposition… . All I was doing was inventing people out

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of the meager clay of telephone taps, purloined mail, and investigators reports. What else I gave my suspects came from myself. It wasn’t good intelligence work, but … it turned out to be excellent training for the career I had not yet consciously embarked upon: namely that of the novelist (“Introduction,” Three Complete Novels, 10–11).

Though Smiley works for the Secret Service, he is perhaps defined more by two interests outside his professional career. One his is scholarly interest in seventeenth-century German literature and history, to which he returns when he is out of favor at the “Circus.” Indeed, we learn he had “dreamed of Fellowships and a life devoted to the literary obscurities of seventeenthcentury Germany” (Call, 20–1), but is dissuaded by his tutor from following an academic career. Smiley is fulfilled by his chosen profession, though, because of certain similarities to academic work: “It was a profession he enjoyed, and which mercifully provided him with colleagues equally obscure in character and origin. It also provided him with what he had once loved best in life: academic excursions into the mystery of human behavior, disciplined by the practical application of his own deductions” (Call, 20). The other chief preoccupation of Smiley’s is his wife, Ann, who comes from an aristocratic background and describes Smiley in unflattering terms to her upper-class friends. Le Carré makes clear that, while Ann is a distraction, she is by no means a beneficial influence in his life: “It was Ann who had robbed him of his peace, Ann who had once made the present so important and taught him the habit of reality, and when she went there was nothing” (Call, 51). With le Carré’s early delineation of Smiley’s character and circumstances, we see him laying the groundwork of the anti-Bond professional spy: a man who is scholarly, cerebral, obsessed with one woman who betrays him. Yet Smiley takes a back seat to Alec Leamas in The Spy Who. Like Bond, Leamas is a man of action, a field agent, skilled in unarmed combat and capable of sudden deadly violence. Leamas’s strained relations with his own organization, however, make him a clear reaction against the Bond prototype. When Leamas arrives back in London after the disastrous collapse of his spy ring in Berlin following the shooting of his prize agent, Karl Riemeck, he has become alienated from Control, finding “the same affected detachment, the same donnish conceits; the same horror of draughts; courteous according to a formula miles removed from Leamas’ experience” (12). This is a far cry from the deep respect and affection felt by Fleming’s Bond towards M. If anything, Leamas’s attitude recalls the scorn of Ashenden for his spymaster, R. Yet perhaps it is Control who offers the most realistic insight into the professionalizing of the modern spy, telling Leamas, “I mean you’ve got to compare method with method, and ideal with ideal. I would say that since the war, our methods—ours and those of the opposition—have become much the



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same. I mean you can’t be less ruthless than the opposition simply because your government’s policy is benevolent, can you now?” (Spy Who, 15). As though to demonstrate this similarity of method, despite differing ideological positions, Control proposes a Byzantine plot to get rid of Mundt—the implacable head of East German Secret Service, and Leamas’s nemesis— which involves Leamas going undercover. The first step of Control’s plan is to create the appearance that Leamas has been sacked from his job, in order to establish the image of an embittered former spy who is ripe for defection. In fact, Control’s plot is even more Machiavellian than he reveals: for he is sending Leamas back “into the cold” not to eliminate Mundt but in order to unwittingly protect him, who is “London’s man”—a British double agent—and eliminate Fiedler, the East German Jew who threatens to expose Mundt as a British spy. Control further suggests the likelihood that Leamas is burned out, a suggestion that Leamas resents.25 Later Leamas, on trial for his life in East Germany as a spy sent to discredit Mundt, returns to the portrayal of espionage as a “game,” explaining to the Tribunal how the plot evolved in London: “Smiley hated you, Mundt. We all did, I think, although we didn’t say it… . But it was still a game” (189). Yet in the Cold War era the context has radically changed from the days of Kipling at the height of Britain’s empire, and Leamas’s engagement in the “game” of espionage collapses as he discovers how completely his own people have betrayed him: “with the terrible clarity of a man too long deceived, Leamas understood the whole ghastly trick” (191). The shift in terminology from “game” to “trick” is significant, as Leamas’s role changes from that of player to victim. The final disillusionment of Leamas is, paradoxically, the culmination of his professional role, as he realizes he has been sacrificed for the greater good of Britain: as he tells Liz, “Mundt is London’s man, their agent” (199). Leamas’s use of the third person to describe London’s use of Mundt reflects his alienation from his own organization, and leads to a powerful expression of the cynical view of the professional spy: “What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives. Do you think they sit like monks in London balancing the rights and wrongs?” (203). The professional agent here strips the spy of any romantic idealism that Fleming had given to Bond, and decisively breaks the link with the gentleman-amateurs of Buchan and Childers.26 Having reached this point of desolate insight, there is nowhere left for Leamas to go: inevitably, and fittingly, Leamas meets his end at the same Berlin Wall that saw the death of his agent Karl Riemeck at the novel’s beginning, and he joins Liz as a victim of British betrayal. Unlike Bond—who always returns from the brink of apparent death—there will be no coming back from the grave for Alec. Martin Ritt’s 1965 film version of The Spy Who

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Came in from the Cold is even more cynical about the ruthless treatment of its own agents by the Circus. In the novel the man who takes Alec and Liz to the Berlin Wall leaves by car, clearing him of direct involvement in the shootings (209). In the film, by contrast, we see the driver who has “helped” the couple escape by bringing them to the wall, take a rifle and shoot first Nan and then—when he refuses to jump down on the Western side of the wall—Alec himself. Though both are professional agents, Leamas represents the opposite extreme of the spectrum to Bond. Fleming’s character is adventurous, promiscuous, materialistic, and his exploits are romanticized; le Carré’s Leamas is wary, bruised, Spartan in his life and habits (apart from heavy drinking), and presents the work of a spy as a sordid and tedious necessity. We can see in le Carré’s first bestselling spy novel a powerful reaction against the glamor and exoticism of espionage as portrayed by Fleming: indeed, McCormick describes Spy Who as “an understandable reaction away from the antics of James Bond” (Who’s Who, 109). Yet in his later novels, le Carré gives a somewhat less jaundiced view of the professional agent in returning to the character of George Smiley. Playing a relatively minor role in The Spy Who but coming into prominence in the Karla Trilogy, beginning with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), Smiley is arguably the ultimate professional spy, whose techniques of interrogation and investigation are extraordinarily effective.27 George Smiley never approaches the glamorous, exotic world of James Bond. Indeed, le Carré goes out of his way to present his protagonist in a drab, unflattering light, drawing attention to his unprepossessing physical appearance and his troubles with women—specifically, his unfaithful wife, Ann. In his first novel, Call for the Dead, le Carré introduces Smiley as something of a paradox: a professional agent who is nostalgic for the era of the gifted amateur. The narrator explains, from Smiley’s point of view, “Gone forever were the days of Steed-Asprey, when as like as not you took your orders over a glass of port in his rooms at Magdalen; the inspired amateurism of a handful of highly qualified, under-paid men had given way to the efficiency, bureaucracy, and intrigue of a large Government department” (Call for the Dead, 24–5). Le Carré delays the return of his protagonist to center stage for over a decade, but when he does appear in Tinker the effect is a far cry from the super-fit and ruggedly handsome 007: Smiley is “Small, podgy, and at best middle-aged.” (Tinker, 18). It is as though le Carré sets out to present as un-Bond-like a spy as he can conceive of: in one paragraph he is able to convey Smiley’s awkward physique and his failed marriage. Yet Smiley is nonetheless is a consummate professional spy, who is called back to “the Circus” (le Carré’s term for the London HQ of British Secret Intelligence Service) at the beginning of Tinker Tailor, to save it from self-destructing.



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Following the death of Control—who had been his mentor—Smiley had been displaced from the Circus in the major reshuffle, but is now assigned by the Undersecretary Oliver Lacon to discover the identity of the “mole” who has burrowed into the highest levels of British intelligence. Clearly based on the Philby, Burgess, and Maclean spy case—particularly the high-profile scandal surrounding Philby’s treason and defection—le Carré’s fictional scenario allows his fullest presentation of the professional spy as a mixture of shrewd detective, scholar, and hapless cuckold. Smiley is nonetheless the professional for all that. One could say that his professionalism is reflected in his ability to function despite such distractions, and in the absence of interest in the fast cars, high-tech weaponry, exotic travel, and vodka martinis that Bond is famous for. Smiley has the additional disadvantage that the change in the power structure at the Circus has left him marginalized.28 The anonymity of Control recalls the enigma of M—Bond’s boss—and Smiley seems to have enjoyed a similarly close relationship with his superior in the Circus. This very closeness to the center of power is now, in the aftermath of Control’s death, a liability. Smiley is called in from retirement by the minister, Lacon, in order to track down a mole that has penetrated the Circus (Tinker, 60). The mission hardly seems one to set an ambitious spy’s pulses racing, yet Smiley displays none of Bond’s impatience with dull routine and methodical detective work. This long-suffering patience makes him the ideal candidate for unearthing the mole planted by Moscow Centre. The enemy, in le Carré’s espionage world, has moved from an external villain (the quintessentially foreign villainy of SMERSH and SPECTRE) to internal, the insider (“an Englishman”) who is treacherously leaking secret information to the Soviets.29 But le Carré’s “mole”—code named Gerald—is still more nefarious, a highly placed Englishman who is working for Karla, the Soviet spymaster.30 There may be an echo of Kipling, too, in the fact that Kim Philby, the real-life Soviet mole on whom Haydon is based, was named after Kipling’s boy hero. Haydon is Smiley’s rival in more ways than one: not only has he survived the cull that led to Smiley’s dismissal from the Circus, to become head of the London station (31), but he also indulged in an affair with Smiley’s wife, Ann, which is an ill-kept secret in the Circus. Haydon recalls the glory days of Britain’s imperial prowess, yet his treachery reflects a deep disillusionment with this romantic ideal of the British imperial spy, a realization that it is ill suited to the Cold War reality of British decline. As le Carré wrote of the explanation for the Establishment’s blindness to Philby’s treachery, “The answer I believe lies with the prevailing nature of our society, and our predicament as a fading world power” (“Introduction,” The Philby Conspiracy, 14). In le Carré’s work, the professional ethos of the spy is itself held under scrutiny, and found wanting. Denning notes that in le Carré’s Circus “knowledge

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is professional, technical, and fragmentary” (Cover, 136) and yet Smiley’s role is to piece this fragmentary knowledge together: he is thus is “a figure for the collective activity of all those disconnected, alcoholic bureaucrats … whose fragments of knowledge are unified by Smiley to bring forth the whole fantastic secret” (Cover, 137). It is significant that Smiley classifies his wife and the Circus both as examples of his futile dependency, for Smiley is an “insider”—a consummate company man—who has been traumatically ousted by his own organization, and is perhaps unconsciously looking for a way back in. Part of Smiley’s identity as a professional spy is that he is haunted by the past (Tinker, 26–27). This is one trait that he has in common with Bond—a fear of the “reckoning” that will one day face him, and an awareness that old enemies are still trying to eliminate him. As Bond, as we have seen, is defined partly by the villains he does battle with—Le Chiffre, Mr. Big, Goldfinger, Rosa Klebb, and above all Ernst Stavro Blofeld—so Smiley finds in his Soviet nemesis, Karla, both the ultimate test of his professionalism and the most powerful enemy he encounters. Yet in a new twist, Smiley discovers that his most dangerous opponents are much closer to home, specifically the “mole” that is threatening to destroy the Circus from the inside. This is a keynote in le Carré’s world—the discovery by the professional agent that the spy world is a hall of mirrors, in which one cannot trust one’s closest colleagues. For le Carré, the professional spy’s existence is defined by betrayals—by those closest to him, and by himself, of his own ideals. Like Greene before him, le Carré recognizes disloyalty as the fundamental behavior trait of the professional spy: unlike Greene, he does not regard it as a virtue. As a protagonist, Smiley is less reminiscent of Bond than of an earlier adventure hero: Sherlock Holmes, who solved cases by deductive reasoning rather than violent action. As a somewhat meditative figure, he also recalls Joseph Conrad’s Charles Marlow, who is described, on board the Nellie, as sitting “cross-legged right aft, leaning against the mizzen-mast. He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol” (Heart, 4).31 In like fashion, when meeting with Peter Guillam “Smiley had assumed for the main a Buddha-like inscrutability” (Tinker, 42). Similarly, there is a recurrence of the ambivalence of Marlow’s situation with the Company—“something ominous in the atmosphere … just as though I had been let into some conspiracy … something not quite right” (Heart, 12). The atmosphere of le Carré’s secret world of espionage is quite reminiscent of Conrad’s uneasy tone surrounding imperial intrigue in the late nineteenth century. Smiley’s image for the enigma he faces in trying to discover the identity of the mole, is “a picture of one of those wooden Russian dolls that open up, revealing one person inside the other, and another inside him”



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(Tinker, 377).32 These are treacherous waters that only the trained professional, his instincts honed by suspicion, is capable of navigating. The Russian doll becomes a symbol of Soviet duplicity embodied in Karla: Tarr relates to Smiley how he was asked by another Russian spy, Ivlov, whether he knew Karla (59). The idea of a major conspiracy is emphasized by Ivlov’s warning that Tarr should not confide in anyone in the Circus (59). Leamas and Smiley are two versions of le Carré’s professional spy, each of which offers an antidote to the romantic excesses and gadgetry of Bond. There is an important difference, however, between Smiley’s methodical approach to espionage, and Leamas’s bitter disillusionment in The Spy Who. Leamas was once a willing (perhaps idealistic) part of the organization, but has spent too long out “in the cold” and has lost his faith. He discovers that he has been used by Control, but still recognizes that the plot to protect Mundt’s position serves the British interests. Smiley—who was part of the conspiracy against Leamas in The Spy Who—is more resigned to the nefarious antics and dubious ethics of professional espionage. By contrast, Deighton’s Palmer never had any faith to lose. He is a professional only in the sense that he knows how to do his job, and does it thoroughly, if often under protest. Palmer discovers, however, that his commanding officers are actively working against Britain and the US, and are secretly employed by the Soviets. Palmer’s cynicism is also leavened by humor of a kind that is absent from le Carré. In his first-person narration, Palmer’s insubordinate attitude and antiestablishment credo are best expressed through a series of witty and sarcastic remarks, either delivered directly to his superiors or presented as asides to the reader. We sense that Palmer—despite his professional status—does not take himself or his espionage too seriously; has few if any ideals to lose and is therefore incapable of the kind of crisis suffered by Leamas. Where Leamas is self-destructive, Palmer is a survivor. However, Palmer’s personality is vividly and carefully developed, though it may contain the irreverent humor of a working-class rebel. Deighton shows a sustained attempt to undermine the glamor of the spy by emphasizing his humanity and mortality: as Billion Dollar Brain, the fourth novel opens, “It was the morning of my hundredth birthday. I shaved the final mirror-disc of old tired face under the merciless glare of the bathroom lighting. It was all very well telling oneself that Humphrey Bogart had that sort of face; but he also had a hairpiece, half a million dollars a year and a stand-in for the rough bits” (Billion, 3). Where M compares Bond to a film star, in FRWL—implying that a beautiful woman might plausibly fall in love with his picture—Palmer entertains no such illusions about having a glamorous appearance. Palmer’s professional skepticism about his own sexual attractiveness, and the likelihood that beautiful women would throw

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themselves at him, is highlighted in the film of Funeral in Berlin. After a meeting with his contact in Berlin, Johnny Vulcan, Palmer is picked-up in a hotel by a beautiful young woman, Samantha Steele, who invites him to share her cab and then takes him home to spend the night together. The scene in Steele’s apartment deploys the conventions of the romantic spy movie, with sweeping string soundtrack, a beautiful woman in an elegant and revealing dress, and cocktails. The next morning, however, Palmer asks his German policeman contact, “Do you find me physically attractive, irresistible? If you saw me in the street would you throw yourself at my feet?” (Funeral). When the inspector asks him whom he is talking about, Palmer’s response displays his cynical assumption that his new lover has a hidden agenda in seducing him: “she says her name is Samantha Steele. She picked me up last night—and with my irresistible charm, I want to know why and who she’s working for” (Funeral). As Allan Hepburn comments, “Women, in classic espionage paradigms, are to blame for erotic entanglements with the wrong men” (Intrigue, 139). Bond and Palmer both have strong sexual drives and, despite their skepticism, are easily distracted from their missions by the allure of attractive females, sometimes risking the success of the mission itself, reinforcing the idea that “[m]ost spy plots treat love as a pesky distraction that befalls male spies” (Intrigue, 139) rather than a central aspect of the plot. In Billion Dollar Brain, Palmer is met in Helsinki by Harvey Newbegin’s mistress, Signe, with whom he becomes involved: Palmer’s attention to detail is revealing, describing her smile: “[w]hen she laughed and giggled it stretched from ear to ear, but half an hour after leaving her you found yourself remembering Harvey’s claim that she was the most beautiful girl in the world” (Billion, 86). Do Fleming and Deighton suggest that their protagonists’s sexual promiscuity is a weakness, undermining the focus of the professional agent? Or rather, is it a defense against a more serious threat to their efficiency as agents, and perhaps their independence as men—the threat of marriage? Both are bachelors, and both display a constant interest in the attractive women they encounter. Palmer for example, observes in detail the alluring physical appearance of the female companion of an American commander on Tokwe Atol (195). There is no doubt in the reader’s mind that one pair of desiring eyes belongs to Palmer himself. The fictions of the professional spy, then, question whether the professional agent is too constricted by official control and established rules, to be able to operate effectively and creatively. The professional’s dependence on a larger organization—both for his mission and for the information he needs to complete it—makes it difficult for him to function as a solo agent. Where Smiley notes his own overdependence on institutions (Tinker, 25), Palmer resents the liability of the professional agent to bureaucratic stupidity: he is



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irritated at the expectation of his boss, Dawlish, that Palmer and other underlings will do the dirty work (Horse Under Water, 4). This dependency on a bureaucratic system, as le Carré’s and Deighton’s novels powerfully illustrate, makes the professional spy uniquely vulnerable to betrayal by those within his own organization. In the three trilogies that Deighton authored between 1983 and 1996, Deighton develops another (this one named) first-person narrator, Bernard Samson, as he negotiates the treacherous waters of “London Central,” Deighton’s term for the Secret Service.33 Samson is the central figure of the entire series, and the character has some striking continuities with Deighton’s earlier protagonist. Like Palmer, Samson is witheringly cynical about his superiors in the Secret Service, especially his immediate superior Dicky Cruyer. Cruyer takes central stage along with Samson in Mexico Set, where the two agents travel to Mexico to lure an East German defector, Erich Stinnes, to the West. Throughout their mission, Samson comments acerbically on Cruyer’s egregious self-promotion and vanity: “His insensitivity to people, place, and atmosphere could make him seem a clown instead of the cool sophisticate that was his own image of himself. But that didn’t make him any less terrifying as friend or foe” (Mexico Set, 2–3). Samson’s relations with his other colleagues are hardly more promising, as we see in London Match when he encounters the Director General’s assistant, Morgan: “I detested Morgan in a way I didn’t dislike anyone else in the building. Morgan was the only person there whose patronizing superiority came near driving me to physical violence” (London Match, 149). The greatest frustration for the professional agent, it seems, is not international intrigue but office politics and intra-organizational rivalries. Indeed Deighton’s series of novels goes into even more depth than le Carré’s about the exploitation of the professional spy by his own people, and the betrayals that plague the organization Deighton calls “London Central.” Where le Carré shows that Smiley’s tortured relationship with his wife, Ann, blinds him to other betrayals, Deighton creates a scenario in which the protagonist’s own wife—Fiona Samson—appears to have defected to the Eastern Bloc. Unlike Harry Palmer who remains a carefree bachelor, Samson is defined and restricted in many ways by his marriage to the upper-class, wealthy Fiona, and is severely damaged—emotionally, psychologically, and professionally—by her betrayals. In a bold narrative move, Deighton changes course in the third novel of the second trilogy—Spy Sinker—by abandoning the first-person narration of Samson, and telling the events of the story from Fiona’s perspective. Much of what we learn significantly undermines the reader’s—and Bernard’s— assumptions about Fiona’s motives and the true meaning of her defection. The professional agent, then, seems to represent an advance on the amateur or “accidental spy,” having a level of training, resources, and official

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status—including in Bond’s case a “license to kill”—that the amateur lacks. But the professional is also hampered by the very structures that support him, and there is a loss of the romantic adventure that characterized the early spy novel. The close links between the professional spy organizations and the elite education systems—both in Britain and the US—made them appear part of the class system that preserved the upper-class privilege of British society. Deighton’s protagonists are scornful of such elitism, but in the context of the post-Cambridge-Five era, such skepticism about the privileged classes is representative of a widespread disaffection. These betrayals added to the taint on the professional Secret Service: it could be the perfect cover for treason. PROTOCOLS OF ESPIONAGE A further change of direction for the professional spy novel occurred in the 1970s, a decade that began with the publication of Frederick Forsyth’s international bestseller The Day of the Jackal (1971). Like the patrician traitors of le Carré and Deighton, the Jackal is apparently an upper-class Englishman, though this national identity is eventually disavowed by the British authorities (Jackal, 406). Whatever his nationality, the Jackal is driven less by idealism than the mercenary’s lust for money. It may seem questionable to classify The Day of the Jackal as a spy novel, however as McCormick points out “the background is that of espionage, counterespionage and political assassination” (Who’s Who, 78). Like an undercover spy, the Jackal uses disguises, false-papers, contacts in the underworld and other types of tradecraft to pursue his mission. For it is plausible to view the Jackal as the fullest realization of one aspect of the professional spy in fiction: the assassin, whose professionalism is never in question and whose motives are primarily mercenary. Indeed, a large part of the fascination of Forsyth’s narrative derives from the meticulous planning and construction of false identities that the Jackal uses in preparing to assassinate the French President Charles de Gaulle. Perhaps the most striking departure of Forsyth is his adept use of “faction,” the blend of historical actuality and imaginative fiction that creates an impression of authenticity surrounding the events of the story. Clearly, the target of the Jackal is an actual historical personage, and Forsyth claimed that the assassin himself was based on a real person (McCormick, Who’s Who, 78). The OAS—Organisation d’Armée Secret—which hires the Jackal, is an actual terrorist organization, some of whose members Forsyth met while on journalistic duty in France in the 1960s (Cabell, 39). Faction has been discussed by Nigel West as a technique used by “authors with intelligence experience and who have drawn on



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this experience when writing espionage fiction” (“Fiction, Faction,” 276) in order to disguise the potentially classified material. Forsyth does not fall into this category of former intelligence agents-turned-novelists, though he did serve as a pilot in the RAF before turning to journalism and fiction (Cabell). However, Forsyth uses journalistic techniques of terse narration and dense technical detail to create an objective-seeming narrative, devoid of the fantastic elements of Fleming’s fiction. Unlike Deighton and le Carré, Forsyth has not created a recurring, iconic spy character that has redefined the figure of the professional spy.34 If we take the Jackal as the protagonist of his first novel, then Forsyth creates great reader sympathy, if not identification, with the villain of the story. There are echoes of John Buchan in Forsyth’s narrative, as both The Thirty-Nine Steps and Jackal feature protagonists who are on the run and use elaborate disguises to evade capture. However, while Hannay is being pursued by the police for an actual murder that he didn’t commit, the Jackal is being hunted for a murder that hasn’t occurred but that he intends to commit. Noting the fiction-writing rules that he broke, Forsyth commented, “First You can’t write a book where the ‘hero’ has no name. Second, you can’t write a book where real characters appear (such as de Gaulle) and have them interact with fictional characters” (cited in Cabell, 40). Lacking the first-person voice, the Jackal is more of a cipher whose actual name is never revealed (the presumed name of Charles Calthrop proves to be a red herring). Yet the momentum of the manhunt shifts the reader’s identification towards the pursued, the “man on the run.” To balance this identification, the novel devotes almost equal attention to the pursuit of the Jackal by the French police, specifically Claude Lebel who is handpicked by Commissioner Maurice Bouvier of the French police as “the best detective in France” (Jackal, 194). The manhunt led by Lebel is unusual due to the fact that it must be covert: de Gaulle, after being informed that he is the target of assassination, refuses to take public measures to protect himself. Hence, “The whole thing must be done secretly. That leaves us only one alterative. The identity of the assassin must be revealed by a secret enquiry … and then destroyed without hesitation” (Jackal, 185). Like the Jackal’s undercover mission, the secrecy of the “anatomy of a manhunt” (195) creates the atmosphere of espionage in the narrative. In making use of the carte blanche he is given to pursue the Jackal, Lebel calls not only on the intelligence resources on France but on the old boy network of spies and spymasters in other countries. In particular, Britain’s MI5 and SIS are useful in providing leads, as the Jackal is believed to be an English mercenary with previous successful missions. An additional subplot of secrecy and espionage is the recruitment of the beautiful Jacqueline Dumas as an agent of OAS. Having lost both her brother

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and her lover Francois in the Algerian War, she is desperate to avenge them by working for the OAS. Her recruiter, who “had no name,” asks “would she be prepared to undertake a special job for the Organization? … Perhaps dangerous, certainly distasteful?” (Jackal, 101). This job is to be the bait in a honey-trap for one of the French ministers, Colonel Raoul Saint-Clare de Villauban, who is a member of the committee overseeing the manhunt for the Jackal. Thus Dumas uses sexuality to extract information from de Villauban, and becomes an undercover spy, reporting everything she learns from her highly placed lover about the secret meetings concerning the Jackal. For Allan Hepburn, “the colonel foolishly thinks intimacies of the boudoir are beyond politics” and is undone due to the fact that he “interprets women as apolitical” (Intrigue, 212). We witness the resourcefulness of the OAS— which accurately identifies a weak link in the committee and recruits the ideal agent—but also of Lebel’s team, which uses modern surveillance techniques (a wiretap on each member of the committee) to identify the source of the leak. Forsyth deploys journalistic techniques throughout Jackal, to the point that the narrator/reporter himself may be considered the central figure of the story. The narrative is replete with technical and historical detail, such as description of the Jackal’s gun. As Forsyth notes, “no one had previously explained in technical detail how things happen and why they happen. For example, how you can make specialist guns, obtain forged passports, how you hire the services of an armourer” (Cabell, 40). There are parallels with the “Fleming effect” in which Bond’s guns are described in technical detail, although Forsyth’s narrator is more elaborate in this regard. Forsyth establishes clear unemotional distance from the central characters, describing even their most abhorrent actions—such as the Jackal’s murdering those who know too much about him—including the woman, Madame la Baronne de la Chalonniere, that he sleeps with and whose home he will use as a temporary refuge—in dispassionate detail. Forsyth’s faction technique is evident in his use of actual historical personages, to whom he gives dialogue, most notably to Charles de Gaulle himself. As a suspense novel, Jackal may seem to be undermined by a crucial spoiler: the reader knows that de Gaulle, although he survived several assassination attempts, was not killed by an assassins bullet, but died of a ruptured blood vessel in 1970, having resigned the French Presidency the previous year. Perhaps the most influential film based on a Forsyth novel, Viennese-born director Fred Zinnemann’s 1973 film The Day of the Jackal. Adapted for the screen by Kenneth Ross, the film starred Edward Fox as the Jackal, Michael Lonsdale as Claude Lebel, and Derek Jacobi as Caron. At 143 minutes, the film covered most aspects of Forsyth’s plot including the opening assassination attempt on de Gaulle by the OAS, and the seduction of a French minister



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by a beautiful young woman who works for the OAS. Perhaps the most striking difference from the novel is the casting of Edward Fox as the Jackal. Forsyth describes the Jackal as “a tall blond Englishman” (Jackal, 28) and later elaborates, from the perspective of the OAS chief, Rodin, “The visitor stood above six feet tall, apparently in his early thirties, and with a lean athletic build” (45). Edward Fox is a quite different physical type, and he lacks the powerful physical presence of Forsyth’s Jackal. However, he conveys the ruthless quality of the professional killer to good effect. Equally impressive is the French-born actor Michael Lonsdale in the role of Lebel, who pursues the Jackal and eventually prevents the assassination. The film, like Forsyth’s novel, pays meticulous attention to the preparations for the assassination—in particular the Jackal’s acquisition and concealment of his sniper’s rifle. Hence, the reader knows the outcome in advance (barring the possibility that Forsyth may have written an “alternate history” in which events turn out differently). Forsyth overcomes this obstacle by his careful use of detail in describing both the Jackal’s preparations for the kill, and Claude Lebel’s brilliant pursuit of the assassin. The reader becomes engrossed in the narratives of the planning for the assassination and the manhunt. The suspense surrounds not whether the Jackal would be stopped, but how, when, and under what circumstances. Ultimately, Forsyth deploys one of his most ingenious narrative twists to explain how the Jackal, despite anticipating every obstacle, ultimately fails in his assignment. With its dual narrative, the Jackal pays homage to professionalism in two spheres: the professionalism of the mercenary killer, and the inspired detective work and extraordinary organization of the French police, working in a covert operation of international dimensions. Forsyth drew even more directly on his own professional experience—not of espionage, but of journalism—in The Odessa File, his protagonist, Peter Miller, being a German freelance journalist living in Hamburg. Out driving on the night of President Kennedy’s assassination, Miller follows an unlikely lead that ultimately gives him possession of a Jewish concentration camp survivor, Salomon Tauber, which puts him on the trail of Eduard Roschmann, a member of the SS and commandant of the concentration camp at Riga. Forsyth’s novel is prefaced by a publisher’s note that assures the reader “that the story of former SS Captain Eduard Roschmann … is completely factual and drawn from SS and West German records” (Odessa, xv). Fleming had used a similar preface in FRWL to assure the reader that SMERSH, the Soviet spy agency, really existed and was not the author’s imaginative fantasy. However, the publisher’s note in Odessa leaves the impression that the author needs a higher authority to vouch for his accuracy. The dedication of the novel –“To all press reporters”—inscribes Forsyth within this professional group, and there is perhaps a closer personal connection between author and protagonist than in any other Forsyth novel. Yet

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one could claim that the heart of the novel begins where Miller’s professional involvement as a journalist ends. Having finished reading Tauber’s diary, obtained through a contact in the Hamburg Police, Miller informs his girlfriend Sigi that he is planning “The next story I’m going to cover … I’m going to track a man down” (Odessa, 60). The ambiguity of this phrase is itself revealing: for if it applies to the approach of a reporter, it also describes the work of an assassin such as the Jackal. However he encounters a conspiracy of silence when he tries to investigate the whereabouts of Nazi war criminals. Wishing to write a feature story about Tauber, Miller approaches the owner of his usual magazine, Komet, to offer them the project and is unceremoniously rejected. When Miller naively asserts that if he could find a wanted Nazi war criminal where the police have failed, it would be “Something people want to know about” (88) the owner, Hans Hoffmann, corrects him: “I’m not giving you a commission for it. I should think it’s the last thing people want to know about” (89). McCormick justifies his inclusion of Odessa as a spy story by noting that Forsyth’s choice of a reporter protagonist is no less legitimate than any other professional cover for a spy (Who’s Who, 79). Indeed, Miller does become an undercover spy when, in order to pursue Roschmann he adopts the persona of a former Nazi officer to penetrate Odessa, a German acronym that Forsyth translates as “Organization of Former Members of the SS” (Odessa, xi). The “first task of Odessa” was to assist members of the SS in disappearing, either going underground in Germany or emigrating overseas: “Just how many thousands of SS murderers who would have died for their crimes, had they been caught by the Allies, passed to safety will never be known” (Odessa, 165). Odessa also seeks to protect its members from investigation and to convince the German public of the SS soldiers’ patriotism (168). An equally important covert Odessa function, central to the plot of the novel, is to wage war on the Jewish state of Israel by providing Egypt with warheads armed with bubonic plague: as one former SS, General Gluck, informs a subordinate “our organization is doing everything in its power to assist the Egyptian cause so that it may one day prove completely victorious in the coming struggle” (Odessa, 65). The assassination of US President John F. Kennedy has served Odessa’s interests, for Kennedy’s support of an arms deal between Germany and Israel was a main reason for its likely completion (66). By penetrating this organization, Miller risks his life for a “story” that it seems no one wants to publish or to read. When Miller’s secret investigation into Roschmann is discovered, he is tracked down and attacked by members of Odessa. It is through the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal—another historically based character—that Miller makes contact with survivors of Riga who help him to pose as a former-SS officer in order to penetrate the Odessa. He is warned of the risks, by the concentration camp survivors who explain that



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previous attempts to penetrate Odessa failed because the spies were Jewish. What makes Miller ideal as an undercover agent for Odessa is that he is “a genuine Aryan German with a grudge against the SS” (183). The exact nature of and reason for this “grudge” remains one of the central enigmas of The Odessa File until the end. Miller evades the question when he is asked why he is so determined to pursue Roschmann and bring him to trial. Only at the end of the novel is it revealed that Miller’s motives are personal rather than professional: in a conflict over the use of a ship at Riga docks, Roschmann had shot and killed a man that, Miller realizes, was his own father. Perhaps the strongest clue to this identity is Miller’s astonished and incredulous reaction on reading the passage in Tauber’s diary (Odessa, 54). Only in the climactic scene with Roschmann does Miller reveal this fact, in one of the narrative twists that Forsyth is known for. However, despite the personal motives, Miller’s successful pursuit of Roschmann, which causes the former-SS to flee Germany, has profound political implications: Roschmann’s code name was Vulkan, a key player in the plot to destroy Israel, which now flounders (Odessa, 316). Having been knocked unconscious by Roschmann’s bodyguard, Miller is saved by an Israeli agent named Josef, but Roschmann escapes. Released two years after the novel, the film of The Odessa File (1974) was directed by the British director Ronald Neame and starred Jon Voigt as the journalist and investigator Peter Miller. The film also starred the Austrian actor Maximilian Schell as Eduard Roschmann. The film follows the plot of Forsyth’s novel quite closely until the end. However, on confronting Roschmann in his South American home, Voigt’s Miller shoots and kills the Nazi war criminal, a dramatic act of personal revenge that does not occur in the novel. The film also gives less attention to the Vulcan plot to destroy Israel with rockets fired from Egypt. Instead, the personal revenge story is emphasized, as is consistent with Forsyth’s overall theme of individual loyalty. Odessa is a prime example of Forsyth’s skillful weaving together of fact and fiction: actual historical events such as World War II, the Kennedy assassination, and the Arab-Israeli conflict serve as the setting for a story of personal vengeance. Miller can be considered a professional spy because he uses his journalistic training to pursue an enemy of the state, with the support of organizations such as the survivors of concentration camps. Although he is not working for an official intelligence organization, Miller is profoundly involved in major political conflicts of his time and helps to shape their outcome. Where Fleming’s Bond is sometimes chastised for making his missions too personal, Miller’s purpose for espionage is personal from the outset. After his novel about mercenaries organizing a coup d’etat in an African nation, The Dogs of War, Forsyth returned to the spy novel in The Devil’s Alternative (1979) and The Fourth Protocol (1984). Whereas his

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first three novels had dealt with political conspiracies in the recent past, these two novels are distinctive for being set in the near future. The plot of The Devil’s Alternative is centered on a crisis in the Soviet Union caused by a contamination of its grain crop that will result in catastrophic famine and social breakdown. A section of the Politburo plans to avert the crisis by invading Western Europe and taking its food supplies. Forsyth’s protagonist, the British secret agent Adam Munro, becomes aware of this Soviet economic crisis and invasion plan from a secret tape of a Politburo meeting he obtains from a Russian former lover, Valentina, who works in the Kremlin. The novel also involves a plot by Ukrainian nationalists to assassinate the head of the KGB and, when the assassins are captured, to highjack a supertanker and threaten to sink it in the North Sea, causing ecological havoc. The choice between the invasion of Europe and economic disaster is the “devil’s alternative” faced by US President Matthews. As a spy protagonist, Adam Munro is distinctive for combining certain qualities of the accidental spy—such as his stumbling onto the plot of international intrigue, his Scottish background (recalling Hannay)—with the professional’s training and bureaucratic control. Munro’s complex and antagonist relationship with his controller, Sir Nigel Irvine, will be discussed in chapter 8 on the “Spymaster.” Ultimately, international disaster is only averted by collaboration between the superpowers. As John Atkins notes, “once again both Americans and Russians patch things up together to suit themselves and each other… . The most we can hope for is avoidance of catastrophe by super-power manipulation” (68). Forsyth’s interest in the political machinations of the Cold War comes to the fore in The Fourth Protocol, a novel that also uses a near-future setting, offering a prognosis of political revolution in Britain as a result of Soviet terrorism. In some respects the Fourth Protocol recycles the manhunt narrative structure of The Day of the Jackal, as the British MI5 agent John Preston goes in pursuit of a Soviet agent in Britain, Valeri Petrofsky, who has assumed an English identity of James Duncan Ross (stolen from a deceased South African soldier of Scottish parentage). Petrofksy’s mission is to detonate a nuclear weapon at a US Airbase in East Anglia—RAF Bentwaters— that will precipitate Britain into a renunciation of NATO, resulting in the rise to power of a Marxist-Leninist Labour government. In fact, Protocol weaves together three narrative strands: a story of a jewel thief, John Rawlings, who steals the valuable Glen Diamonds and also takes an attaché case which (though he doesn’t realize this) contains secret MI5 papers stolen by the case’s owner, Devenson. The second strand involves the recruitment of Major Petrofsky for the Plan Aurora mission in England, and the elaborate construction of an English identity for the Soviet spy. The third narrative concerns MI5 agent John Preston, who has written a report on the rise of the Communist penetration



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of the Hard Left (aka Militant Tendency) of the Labour Party, that has been ignored by his superior in MI5. Thus the manhunt template is adapted for the Cold War conflict and the threat of an enemy “invasion,” which has been a feature of the spy novel since its inception. Like early spy novels, Protocol is concerned with the threat of an invasion of Britain rather than pursuing intelligence missions overseas. The novel’s title refers to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, specifically to the four “secret protocols” (in the world of Forsyth’s novel) that limited the use of nuclear weapons. The fourth protocol referred to the prohibition of non-conventional delivery of a nuclear weapon, that is, other than being dropped as a bomb or fired as a missile. The Soviet plot in the novel involves contravening this “fourth protocol,” for Petrofsky’s mission is to collect the various components of a nuclear device that are smuggled into Britain and then, with the help of a technical expert, assemble the nuclear device and detonate it at RAF Bentwaters. The evidence at the explosion site will suggest that the disaster was caused by an American nuclear weapon. The proposed outcome of this nuclear “accident” is a wave of anti-Americanism that will lead to the election of the Labour Party at the next election—with its policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament—and the penetration of the British government by Communists. The Fourth Protocol, while it has a British MI5 agent at its center, gives equal attention to Petrovsky’s work as an enemy KGB agent. He is far from being a one-dimensional villain, and as a professional spy is arguably the narrative center of interest. The novel is also innovative in being set in the future—1986–1987 (the novel being published in 1984), and is thus offering a political forecast of Britain’s possible political volte-face. In fact, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government had won a second term in a landslide victory over Labour at the June 1983 General Election, and the possibility of a Hard Left revival, let alone a Socialist coup d’etat, seemed remote. However, the novel’s plot demonstrates the persistence and adaptability of the threat of foreign invasion, a staple at least since William Le Queux’s The Invasion of 1910 (which was also set several years in the future). Forsyth expands his use of actual historical characters in this novel, as one of the key figures in the hatching of Plan Aurora is Harold “Kim” Philby who has by this time defected to the Soviet Union and achieved the rank of Colonel. In fact Philby’s detailed memoranda to the General Secretary of the Communist Party provide the background on Communist penetration of the British Labour Party, and the likely outcomes of Labour winning the next general election: proposing that the Hard Left would “impose upon Britain her first Marxist-Leninist Premier, along with a truly revolutionary socialist legislative programme” (Protocol, 65). As a result the General Secretary reaches the conclusion that “the victory of the British Labour Party at the next

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general election in that … country [has] become … a matter of top priority for the USSR” (Protocol, 91). The use of Philby—who had defected to the Soviet Union in 1963 and would die there in 1988, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union— as a central character in the novel is a bold example of “faction,” invoking the lingering fears of a “fifth man” in the Cambridge spy ring who might remain hidden, or indeed still be leaking secrets to the Soviet Union. The public exposure of Anthony Blunt as the “fourth man” in 1979 had fuelled these fears of continued Soviet espionage in Britain, making the threat of a Philby-inspired plot against the UK seem less fantastic. John Cairncross would eventually be revealed as the Fifth Man, following information provided by the SIS agent in the KGB Oleg Gordievsky. According to Christopher Andrew it was Gordievsky who discovered the identity of the Fifth Man as early as August 1982 (Defence, 441). Yet, Gordievsky did not publicly identify Cairnross as the Fifth Man until 1990 (Andrew, Defence, 706). Spy novelists such as Forsyth were among the beneficiaries of this enduring public fascination with Soviet moles and their delayed public exposure. Yet despite the factual elements of many of Forsyth’s plots and characters, one can recognize in Protocol a tendency to elevate the importance of Britain’s international role, a tendency he shares with his predecessor Fleming. As SMERSH selects the British Secret Service and James Bond in particular as the target for its konspiratsia in FRWL, and as Bond takes control of joint operations with the CIA, so the KGB identifies Britain as the target of Plan Aurora. Philby convinces the KGB that a detailed knowledge of British politics is necessary if “the events of the past few years and those intended for the next few years” are to be “seen in their perspective” (53). The fantasy driving Forsyth’s novel is less its future setting, than its elevation of Britain as a key player in the Cold War, such that destabilizing Britain is a “top priority” of the KGB. Ironically, it was through its high profile traitors—including Philby and Cairncross—that Britain’s pivotal role in the Cold War became etched in public consciousness and popular culture, due to the leaking of vital secrets to the Soviets. The film version of Protocol directed by John Mackenzie—who had established himself with the British gangster film The Long Good Friday (1980) starring Bob Hoskins—dramatically simplifies Forsyth’s narrative. Most notably, the entire plot about the political transformation of British society through a Labour electoral victory is eliminated from Forsyth’s own screenplay, which focuses exclusively on the terrorist plot and assembly of the nuclear bomb. Moreover, the character of Rawlings is dropped, giving John Preston (played by Michael Caine) a more central role. It is the film’s Preston who breaks into the apartment at steals the diamonds at the beginning



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of the film, and also discovers the attaché case. Moreover, rather than the discovery of the secret papers being an accident, the film’s Preston knows they are there and discovers the case’s secret compartment before leaving the flat. This enhances Preston’s professional acuity, making him more impressive as a spy hero. Michael Caine’s role builds on his impressive pedigree as a cinematic spy established through the Harry Palmer films of the 1960s, and the later film The Jigsaw Man (1984) in which he plays an MI6 spy who had defected to Moscow but returns to the UK to retrieve top-secret papers. Directed by Terence Young—who had previously directed three of the first four James Bond films—Jigsaw Man also illustrated the ongoing fascination with Soviet moles.35 In Protocol, Caine starred alongside Pierce Brosnan, a future 007 whose role as a Soviet penetration agent (Petrofsky) in this film suggests the interchangability of the fictional spy. Another of the film’s significant departures from Forsyth’s novel is that the role of Kim Philby is dramatically reduced. In fact, the film begins with a scene in which Philby arrives at the country dascha of his the KGB General Secretary for an appointment, and after being informed that the Comrade General is absent, is unceremoniously shot in the head. As with the killing of Haydon at the conclusion of Tinker, Protocol dramatizes an imaginary revenge against Philby for his betrayal, an animosity that is also reflected in Forsyth’s novel when Sir Nigel, Preston’s boss, reports that Philby wants to return to Britain but that “he can rot in hell” (Protocol, 438).36 The killing of Philby in the film’s opening scene also symbolizes the elimination of the entire political plot from the film: implicitly, Philby (with his detailed memoranda) has served his purpose and is therefore eliminated. But the loss of Philby’s contribution to the plot diminishes a central theme of Forsyth’s novel: that the Soviet double agents known as the “Cambridge Five,” even after defection, are still capable of working to destabilize British society from within. Forsyth’s contribution to the professional spy story is inseparable from his development of faction techniques. The wealth of historical fact, technical detail, and political plotting establish the spy as a vital component of the political landscape of the Cold War era. In some cases his protagonists are MI5 or SIS agents, such as John Preston and Adam Munro. Yet he also constructs compelling “enemy” spy characters such as Valeri Petrovsky and Valentina. Those protagonists that are not officially connected to the intelligence division—such as Peter Miller in Odessa—display qualities of courage and skill at tradecraft that are the match of the professional spy. As such, Forsyth’s spy novels are an apt illustration of David Stafford’s point that “spy writers present us with unique orientations about nations and their place in a complex and dangerous world … these commentators of the silent game can inform as well as amuse us” (Silent Game, 231).

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A new professional spy appeared in the scene with Brian Freemantle’s Charlie M (1977). Freemantle’s agent, Charlie Muffin, must qualify as one of the longest-lasting fictional spies of all time—indeed Freemantle is still publishing adventures about his hero. If Muffin is not a household name like James Bond or Jason Bourne, this is partly due to the lack of cinematic adaptations of Freemantle’s work. The comparative lack of widespread popularity is also due to the unglamorous, scruffy, and rebellious nature of Muffin as a professional agent. John Atkins refers to the “vulgar, lower class Charlie Muffin [who] detests the public school element in Security” (British Spy 208). Muffin is insubordinate and intractable, in some ways reminiscent of Deighton’s Harry Palmer. Like Palmer, Muffin has no illusions about his masters, and the new head of MI5 Sir John Cuthbertson is portrayed as an incompetent upper-class booby. Muffin, descried by Atkins as “Freemantle’s major contribution to the spy novel” (231) has an appearance that makes even Palmer look glamorous: one of his superiors observes “Thinning, strawish hair, perhaps a hint of blood pressure or even alcohol from the slightly purpling around the face and nose and a hunched, maybe apprehensive way of sitting. A very ordinary sort of man” (Here Comes 40). Wearing hush-puppy shoes and a worn jacket, Muffin is distinctive for his lack of sartorial style. From the perspective of his colleague Brian Snare, Muffin seems well past his prime: A professional. But still an out-of-date anachronism, concluded Snare contemptuously. Muffin was an oddity, like his name, a middle-aged field operative who had entered in the vacuum after the war, when manpower desperation had forced the service to reduce its standards to recruit from grammar schools and a class structure inherently suspect. (Charlie M, 4)

As Atkins notes, Freemantle “uses him [Charlie M] to point class distinctions and to satirize the Establishment. It is a direct challenge to the traditional social background of the spy novel” (British Spy, 228). With his rebellious spy hero, Freemantle belongs in the company of Deighton and Greene, rather than Fleming and Buchan. Indeed, Freemantle is more insistent than Deighton on the idea that his spy is past his prime, and is only surviving due to past successes: early in the first Muffin novel we learn that he “had co-ordinated Berenkov’s capture, probably the most important single spy arrest in Europe, since the Second World War, and was frightened the credit for it was being taken away… . Another indication that he was past it, this constant need to prove himself” (Charlie M, 2). Muffin’s relationship is even worse with Sir John’s assistant Wilberforce, who has a personal desire to get rid of Muffin from the organization. Like le



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Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Charlie M begins with the British spy at the crossing between East and West Berlin. However, Muffin learns at the beginning of Charlie M what Alec Leamas only discovers belatedly at the conclusion of The Spy Who Came in: that his own organization wants to eliminate him. In Muffin’s case, he watches his two more upper-class fellow agents, Snare and Harrison, cross easily into West Berlin, and immediately becomes suspicious of being betrayed: “every border station should be tighter than a duck’s bum… . Yet they go through … just like that” (Charlie M, 5). To avoid the fate that has been planned for him, Charlie offers the journey by car to an East German student who is anxious to cross into the West. When the spotlights come on, Charlie notes that “a professional would have managed to reverse, to make a run for it” (9), but Mayer panics, flees the car, and is shot dead by the border guards, “his feet snatched from the ground and then he collapsed, flopping and shapeless, like a rag-doll from which the stuffing had escaped” (10). The shocked reaction of Harrison and Snare when he meets them in the Kempinksi hotel convinces him: “They really had tried to set him up” (11). Muffin is more effective than Leamas in gaining revenge on his treacherous colleagues. Indeed, Muffin will work with the highly placed Soviet Union spy Kalenin, apparently to secure Kalenin’s defection to the West. But in fact, Kalenin is a bogus defector and will end up holding British soldiers and agents as hostage for the return of the Soviet spy Berenkov who is being held in Wormwood Scrubs. Muffin, it transpires, has collaborated with Kalenin against his own spymasters and succeeds in bringing them down. This scenario takes the rebellion of the rogue agent several steps further than even le Carré or Deighton allowed him to go. When asked by his lover, Edith, whether he doesn’t feel guilty at having betrayed his country, Muffin is adamant: “No … I’m not sorry to have disgraced Cuthbertson. He’ll have to retire, which means another Director. And that can only result in good for the service” (Charlie M, 181). Freemantle’s contribution to the professional spy novel is significant because of the more directly confrontational treatment of issues of class in the secret world. Muffin’s greatest pride is in his professionalism: as Atkins notes, this admiration crosses the ideological divide of East and West: “His god was expertise. It didn’t matter who showed it, the Russians as much as the British—he was a fully paid-up member of the Fellowship of Spies … ‘Professional’ expressed his highest mark of esteem” (British Spy, 229). Yet the Muffin novels feature the protagonist in a constant state of anxiety that his professional skills are waning, that he is—as Snare puts it— “past it.” As early as the second novel, when Muffin is pursued by a couple of amateurish hoods in Paris, he questions their clumsy tradecraft: “Why the fifty-yard gap? And the unnecessary noise? And this, a passageway to safety?

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It meant they weren’t professionals. And that he’d panicked. So he wasn’t professional. Not any more” (Here Comes, 2). By contrast, George Smiley never doubts his professionalism, even though he may doubt his own motives for agreeing to continue in the profession of espionage. Smiley is given a unique opportunity to wreak revenge on the institution—the Circus—that humiliated and banished him. Yet his molehunt in Tinker Tailor, is never tainted by a personal desire for revenge, even though the eventual traitor—Bill Haydon—has been his wife’s lover. The key to this lack of animosity is that Smiley recognizes that the suspects in the hunt for Gerald are of his own class, and akin to him in other ways. As Connie, the Circus’s former researcher comments, “Poor loves. Trained to Empire, trained to rule the waves. All gone. All taken away. Bye-bye world. You’re the last, George, you and Bill” (114). Haydon and Smiley are two sides of the privileged, faded imperial grandeur of Britain. By comparison with other fictional spies, Smiley might appear somewhat colorless and lacking in action as a literary hero, not possessing many of the traits and trappings associated with the modern spy. Yet his utter absorption in the assignment—whether unearthing and destroying the “mole” that has undermined British intelligence for decades (in Tinker Tailor), or tracking down the dangerous and ruthless agent of Karla’s in the Far East (in The Honorable Schoolboy)—is itself compelling evidence of his professionalism. Smiley’s approach is in effect the opposite of Bond’s: rather than being extended to a range of other pursuits, Smiley’s expertise is confined to his actual mission and his ruthless ability to pursue clues to their logical outcome. His investigation of the traitor within his organization is not tainted by emotion, resentment, or “inverted snobbery” (Charlie M, 2), as Palmer’s and Charlie M’s are. Yet in the work of each of these novelists, we witness a growing awareness that the most lethal enemy is not the foreign villain lurking in an impenetrable lair in Moscow or Berlin or Jamaica. Rather it is the treachery and duplicity of the higher echelons of Britain’s own Secret Service that threaten to destroy it. The novel of the professional spy thus mutates into the narrative of the double agent, the subject of the following chapter. NOTES 1. The longest hiatus occurred between Timothy Dalton’s second film as Bond, Licence to Kill (1989) and Pierce Brosnan’s first, GoldenEye (1995). However, the delay did nothing to diminish popular interest in James Bond. December 2014 saw the official advance announcement of the twenty-fourth official Bond film, SPECTRE. Like its predecessor Skyfall, the film will be directed by Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig in the role of Bond.



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2. The longest runs have been by John Gardner (1981–1996) and Raymond Benson (1997–2003). To some extent these post-Fleming Bond novels have dovetailed with the Eon Productions film franchise, as both Gardner and Benson wrote novelizations of Bond films. 3. Anthony Horowitz has been appointed as the latest Bond author by Ian Fleming Publications. 4. One should perhaps be cautious of labeling all these novelists “anti-Bond.” Deighton in particular is acutely aware of the fact that it was Bond—the films in particular—that created the market for spy fiction in the 1960s, without which his own career would not have taken off. Le Carré has been more outspokenly hostile towards Bond, calling him “the ultimate prostitute.” Whether these authors’s reactions to Bond are hostile or more subtly oppositional, it seems clear that the mood and method of the spy novel in the 1960s had changed irreversibly from Fleming’s era. 5. The episode perhaps echoes one from John le Carré’s first novel, Call for the Dead (1961) in which his hero, George Smiley, is genuinely offered the position of heading a new Secret Service department: he tactfully refuses. 6. Such class-based antagonism between spy and spymaster is new to the spy novel in the early 1960s, and strongly informs the reader’s relationship to the narrator There are notes of this antagonism in Maugham’s Ashenden, but in this case it is the spy—Ashenden himself—who assumes a superior-class position to his spymaster, R. 7. As Fred Erisman points out, “The world of Deighton’s spy is a fragmented, evanescent one, in which nothing is permanent and little is trustworthy” (“Romantic” 103). 8. Jake Kerridge notes that “his Eton- and Oxbridge-educated superiors are usually incompetent … or treacherous” (“Interview”). In Funeral in Berlin he describes Dawlish, his new boss, as “around fifty, slim and meticulous like a well-bred boaconstrictor” (16). 9. Erisman notes of Palmer, “he concentrates on gratifying those eclectic tastes that most please him” (104). It is hard to envisage Bond smoking Gauloises, let alone doing his own grocery shopping. He prefers Morlands, and has a “treasure” of a Scottish housekeeper, May, to take care of his domestic needs. 10. This reflects the different tastes of the two authors: Deighton describes a lunch they had together in 1963 at the White Tower restaurant in Fitzrovia, observing that “It said a lot about Ian that he preferred such formality. By the time of our lunch the Trattoria La Terrazza, in the heart of Soho, was a far more noisy and light-hearted gathering place, as the ‘swinging sixties’ brought affluence … even [to] writers” (James Bond). Deighton’s narrator imitates the more bohemian tastes of his author. In contrast to Bond’s patrician demeanor, Deighton’s narrator plays the role of class subservience, and the reader is privy to the subterfuge. His material lifestyle is somewhat less upscale than Bond’s, somewhat undermining the portable appeal of the spy fantasy: Kerridge, noting that “much is made of the fact that he is overweight” comments that “James Bond may be thinner, but so is his dialogue” (“Interview”). 11. As his remark attests, the narrator’s identity is indeterminate and fluid, consistent with the frequent transformations required of the spy, in which, as Fred Erisman argues, “reality is determined by documents, not by innate characteristics” (Erisman, 102).

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12. Amis concedes that The Ipcress File is “more realist than anything of Mr Fleming’s” but objects to the “narrative method”: which, “with pointers, hints and even some of the major facts conscientiously withheld, does lend an air of insubstantiality” (James Bond Dossier, 13). 13. Of course, Bond’s fame, the legendary status of his name, is a serious professional liability: it makes him a target, as when SMERSH’s Colonel Nikitin, in selecting a target for assassination, notes, “‘There is a man called Bond.’” (FRWL, 45). Having selected the “myth” of the English (not British) Secret Service, there is no question as to the specific victim: Bond is the best. As Deighton has noted, “There were advantages to having an anonymous hero. He might or he might not be the same man. This gave me a chance to make minor modifications as and when I wanted them.” (cited in Milward-Oliver, 43) 14. Harry Saltzman will be a familiar name to Bond viewers. It was he who co-founded Eon Productions with Albert “Cubby” Broccoli in 1961, as a means of financing the first Bond film Dr No (1962). Saltzman, who went on to produce numerous subsequent Bond movies, invited Len Deighton to write the screenplay for the second 007 film, From Russia with Love. Little of Deighton’s script was used in the eventual film, but the connection led to Saltzman offering to obtain the film rights to The Ipcress File. 15. Although there is clearly a hierarchy in place between Bond and M, I would argue that the specific military (in this case Naval) chain of command is not alluded to. The films suggest a more corporate structure with M as “boss.” The Ipcress production featured other Bond alumnae, including set designer Ken Adam, composer John Barry, and editor Peter Hunt. The overlap between Bond and “Harry Palmer” films would continue: the second Palmer film, Funeral in Berlin (1966) was directed by Guy Hamilton, who had recently directed Goldfinger (1964). Despite these shared personnel, The Ipcress File offered an antidote to the excesses of Bond, and even the screen presence of Michael Caine contrasted with Connery’s. 16. “James Bond tops motto poll.” BBC News World Edition: Entertainment, 11 June 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1383350.stm. 17. Toby Miller notes that Bond’s giving his card to Sylvia Trench at the casino in Dr No “is an invitation for the woman … to exercise her desire—which she does, astonishing him by breaking into his apartment within the hour. He encounters her practicing golf in his rooms attired in just a business shirt” (“James Bond’s penis” 237). 18. Although Connery, who first played Bond on screen, had working-class roots in Scotland, this background does not translate into his film’s character who, the films remind us on several occasions, attended Cambridge before joining the Royal Navy. Toby Miller asserts that “The producers cast Connery knowing full well that he was not the ruling-class figure of the novels, in the hope that he would appeal to women sexually and encourage cross-class identification by men” (“James Bond’s penis,” 237). 19. This total of six actors includes only the films in the official Bond series produced by EON. It does not include other films such as Casino Royale (1967) or TV adaptations of Bond.



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20. See Deighton, James Bond: My Long and Eventful Search for his Father, for a detailed account of this controversy. 21. Adaptation, then, would be an instance of what Barthes terms “The death of the author:” “it utterly transforms the … text (or—which is the same thing—the text is henceforth made and read in such a way that at all its levels the author is absent)” (Image 145). As John Atkins remarks, “Bond is one of those rare fictional characters who is better known than his author… . Like Sherlock Holmes, he has been imposed on the public consciousness like a tattoo mark” (84). Bond’s name is as indelible in the spy story as Holmes’s in the detective novel. Yet the title also makes a significant distinction: between spy and secret agent. Kinsgley Amis would argue that Bond is not technically a spy, but is a secret agent. This view has been echoed by Stella Rimington (“Introduction,” Spy’s Bedside Book). Yet in the popular imagination, the distinction does not hold: Bond is the most famous spy of all. 22. According to Colin McColl, who was head of SIS from 1988–1994, “James Bond is the best recruiting sergeant in the world” (West, At Her Majesty’s, 214). 23. A palmer is also a type of itinerant monk, wandering from shrine to shrine under a vow of poverty. Our Harry is hardly monastic, but he does suffer from poverty, in contrast to the high finance invoked by Bond’s surname. However, to “palm” is also to steal, hence the name can invoke the character’s shady criminal background. 24. Nigel West has explored the use of “faction”—a carefully constructed blending of fact and fiction—in spy fiction, linking this to the spy novelist’s use of firsthand experience in intelligence work. See West, “Fiction, Faction, and Intelligence.” I discuss this piece at greater length below in the section on Forsyth. 25. Brian Freemantle’s Charlie Muffin is similarly hostile towards the head of his department, Cuthbertson, stating that he only attained the position because of his “rank, plus a D.S.O. and the inherited baronetcy originally conferred by George III” (Charlie M 27). Charlie states scornfully of his boss: “his outlook and demeanour were as regimented as his brigade or Eton tie, the family crested signet ring and the daily lunch at Boodle’s. Which was precisely why he had been appointed” (27). 26. Bond of course also chastises himself for “playing Red Indians” (Casino Royale 180) while Vesper was betraying the British Secret Service under his very nose. Bond however still identifies as a secret agent, where Leamas describes the spies as “them.” 27. Le Carré has acknowledged the influence on Smiley of two men, his public school Chaplain, Vivian Green, and a fellow MI5 agent John Bingham: (“Introduction,” Three Complete Novels, 13). However, with the name “George” le Carré also invokes the Soviet double agent George Blake whose background and treatment were so different to that of the scion of the Establishment, Kim Philby: “Hardly a tear was shed for George Blake: Blake was half a foreigner and half a Jew; only the length of his prison sentence seriously excited the public conscience… . But Philby, an aggressive, upper-class enemy, was of our blood and hunted with our pack” (“Introduction,” to The Philby Conspiracy, 2). Though Smiley is not a traitor, he is something of an outsider in comparison to the Philby-inspired, upper-class Bill Haydon in Tinker Tailor. 28. The value of secrecy about one’s name is illustrated in a quotation from Graham Greene’s “Under the Garden:” “Be disloyal. It’s your duty to the human

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race… . If you have to earn a living … and the price they make you pay is loyalty, be a double agent—and never let either of the two sides know your real name” (The Portable Graham Greene, 495). 29. There may be an echo of Buchan’s Black Stone here: after all, the German spies are immaculately disguised as “three ordinary, game-playing, suburban Englishmen … sordidly innocent” (Thirty Nine, 116). As Hannay observes, “The Black Stone didn’t need to bolt. They were quietly absorbed into the landscape” (119). 30. Curiously, there is also an echo, in Smiley’s appearance, of the “Bald Archeologist” in John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps: who at first appears to Hannay as a “benevolent old gentleman” with “big glasses … stuck on the end of his nose” (72). Yet Hannay notices “something about the eye of the man before me, something so keen and knowledgeable, that I could not find a word” (72). As they converse, “his eyelids seemed to tremble and to fall a little over his keen grey eyes … he ‘could hood his eyes like a hawk.’ Then I saw that I had walked straight into the enemy’s headquarters” (73). This echo of Buchan’s villain in Smiley—an innocuous-seeming man who “hoods his eyes,”—points to an ambivalence in Smiley’s character: a sense of concealed depths, inscrutable purposes and unknown intentions. 31. As Robert Hampson notes, “Conrad devises for Marlow a partly ironic variation of one of the traditional poses of the Buddha, the ‘Enlightened One’ and founder of Buddhism: depicted sitting on a lotus, in a cross-legged position of meditation” (Conrad, Heart of Darkness, 116–17). 32. This image of the Russian dolls, each doll concealed within a larger one, served as the title sequence for the BBC TV adaptations of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy (1979) and Smiley’s People (1982). 33. The sequence of novels in these trilogies are as follows: Berlin Game, Mexico Set, London Match; Spy Hook, Spy Line, Spy Sinker; and Faith, Hope, and Charity. 34. Forsyth does deploy the same professional spy character more than once. Major Mike Martin, who goes undercover for SIS in Kuwait and Iraq after the Iraq invasion of 1990, in The Fist of God, also appears in The Afghan, published after 9/11. These novels are discussed in chapter 9, on the post-Cold War spy novel. However, the long hiatus between fictional deployments makes this a somewhat different case than Fleming’s Bond, Deighton’s Palmer and Samson, or even le Carré’s Smiley. 35. The film was based on Dorothea Bennett’s 1976 novel of the same title. Michael Denning argues that the protagonist, Philip Kimberley, is a fictional representation of Kim Philby (Cover, 121). 36. The antipathy of le Carré and Forsyth to Philby is in marked contrast to the sympathy and support offered to the Soviet double agent by his former SIS colleague, Graham Greene. See Greene, “Introduction” to Philby’s My Silent War, 1–4.

Chapter 6

The Double Agent in Fact and Fiction

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “double agent” as “a person who purports to spy for one country or organization while actually working for a hostile or rival one” (Shorter OED).1 The double agent is in one sense serving two masters, but ultimately serving one: the (usually hostile) country or agency that recruits him or her to serve as an agent for another country while providing access to the secret intelligence of the host agency. The most effective (or damaging) double agent is a deep-penetration agent that has burrowed, over a long period of time, into the intelligence organizations of the host nation. The double agent may be known, accepted and sometimes celebrated as a high-ranking member of the “host” nation’s secret services. He or she may be—usually is—a native of the host nation, reducing the risk of suspicion of betrayal and allowing for an easier absorption within the intelligence organization. But all the time the double agent serves an enemy power, and seeks to undermine the secret operations and security of the host nation. In this chapter I discuss the rich possibilities of this duplicity for creating complex plots and characters in spy fiction, focusing primarily on the post-World War II period. However I also consider early appearances or intimations of the double agent in spy novels from the prewar period. The alternative term for double agent is “mole,” defined as “a secret agent who gradually achieves a position deep within the security defenses of a country; a trusted person within an organization, etc., who betrays confidential information” (Shorter OED). The OED traces the word’s usage in espionage back to John Buchan’s 1935 novel The House of the Four Winds; however its widespread popularity grew as a result of John le Carré’s use of the term in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974) to denote the Soviet double agent buried deep within the “Circus” (SIS). Although the idea of 183

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the double agent can be traced back to the earliest examples of spy fiction, there is a dramatically increased interest in the figure in fiction following World War II. This is partly attributable to the success of the “Double Cross” system used by Britain during the War, in which Nazi agents in Britain were “turned” and used to feed disinformation back to the Germans.2 In postwar British culture, the popular fascination with the double agent can be linked to the Cambridge spy scandal of the 1950s and 1960s, in which several highly placed officials within MI5, SIS, and the Foreign Office— Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, and Harold “Kim” Philby—were revealed to be Soviet double agents who had been recruited while undergraduates at Cambridge University in the 1930s. It is difficult today to recapture the devastating impact of these revelations of betrayal in British society, and on the public’s faith in the Establishment (i.e., ruling elite). Indeed Michael Denning has argued that the popular use of the term “Establishment” is actually a product of the Cambridge spy scandal. As he writes of the treachery of Philby, “it was not simply that a member of the Establishment had been unmasked as a spy; rather the revelation was part of the coming into public consciousness of the Establishment itself—indeed, of the figuration of the ruling class as the ‘Establishment’” (Cover, 119–20). In different ways, Burgess, Maclean, and Philby represented the ideals of British upper-class service, prestige education, duty, judgment, and charm. The disclosures that they had been serving the chief enemy of Britain (and of the US) for decades, shook the foundations of the faith that the ruling class was serving the interests of the country.3 Significantly, the revelations of the treachery of the “Cambridge Five” occurred in stages, with sometimes long periods between disclosures. To read this skeptically, one might argue that the British establishment sought to protect itself by withholding knowledge of the extent of Soviet penetration from the public. The defections of Burgess and Maclean in 1951 were impossible to cover up, and led directly to suspicions of Philby as the “Third Man” who had warned Maclean of his impending arrest, via Burgess, and prompted their defection.4 As the authors of The Philby Conspiracy note, “Suspicion against him emanated not only from MI5: by autumn of 1951 he was clearly the Foreign Office’s favourite candidate for the role of the ‘third man’” (Page et al., Philby, 247). However, despite the increasing conviction in SIS and MI5 that Philby was a traitor, he was public defended and officially cleared of suspicion in Parliament by Harold Macmillan, then Foreign Secretary, in 1955. The case exposed the rivalries and tensions between Britain’s “sister services,” MI5 and SIS: “Clearly MI5 would have liked to have given Philby the same treatment as they gave [Klaus] Fuchs: investigation followed by an exhaustive—almost literally exhaustive—series of interrogations” (Philby Conspiracy, 246).5



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Philby’s defection to the Soviet Union in 1963 confirmed beyond all doubt that he had been the “Third Man,” and had worked as a Soviet double agent since the 1930s. Ironically, Philby had been head of SIS’s counterespionage division, Section IX, having conspired to remove Felix Cowgill from this position (Macintyre, A Spy 89). In 1964, Anthony Blunt confessed to being a Soviet double agent, a member of the Cambridge spy ring, but this was not revealed to the public until 1979. The “fifth man” was revealed to be John Cairncross by Gordievsky in 1982, but not revealed publicly until 1990. In effect, dating from the recruitment of its members to the disclosure of the identity of the “Fifth Man,” the Cambridge spy ring lasted for half of the twentieth century. Inevitably, the public interest and anxiety about the penetration of Britain’s Secret Service by Soviet double agents found widespread expression in popular novels and films from the 1950s, and these postwar works will be the focus of attention in this chapter. However, an interest in the fictional possibilities of the double agent had been evident much earlier, going back to The Riddle of the Sands. The idea of the traitor undermining a nation—including its secret service—from within, had exercised a powerful hold on the imaginations of spy writers almost from the inception of the genre. We recall that the German enemy in The Riddle of the Sands—the group ostensibly searching for treasure, while secretly plotting the invasion of Britain using a flotilla of barges and cargo boats—is led by Dollmann, identified by Davies as a German naval officer although we learn that he is actually an Englishman—a former Lieutenant in the British Navy—who has betrayed his country and joined with Germany. The duality of Dollmann’s national allegiances raises the narrative’s interest in him as a possible double agent. The fact of his defection is revealed by the photograph of the author of a book in Davies’s collection, which shows Dollmann under his former British identity. As a further manifestation of his duality, Dollmann initially poses as a friend to Davies, offering to guide him through the treacherous shallow waters of the Frisian Islands only to lead Davies into a trap—almost capsizing his boat and costing his life. Yet ironically it is Dollmann himself who articulates the idea that he is a double agent: though he claims to be serving not Germany but Britain. When, having discovered the plot of a German invasion of England, Davies and Carruthers confront Dollmann he tries to convince them that he is actually a double agent, still working for Britain undercover of being a German naval officer. “You fools,” he said, “you confounded meddlesome young idiots; I thought I had done with you. Promise me immunity? Give me till five? By God, I’ll give you five minutes to be off to England and be damned to you, or else to be locked up for spies! What the devil do you take me for?”

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“A traitor in German service,” said Davies, none too firmly. We were both taken aback by this slashing attack. “A tr——? You pig-headed young marplots! I’m in British service! You’re wrecking the work of years—and on the very threshold of success.” (Riddle, 255)

The fact that Dollmann can make this claim indicates that the possibility of the double agent was already recognized in the early twentieth century. As the reaction of Carruthers reveals, the greatest threat posed by the double agent is to one’s sense of clarity about the identity of friend and enemy: “He lied—I could swear he lied; but how to make sure?” (Riddle, 255). This dilemma of “how to make sure” about the loyalty or treason of a suspected double agent is one that would haunt the spy novel in succeeding decades. Although the two amateur gentlemen-spies eventually see through the ruse and entrap Dollmann, the sense of doubt, having been raised, is hard to lay to rest. The prevalence of distrust and deception connected to the double agent continues to surface in spy novels up to and beyond World War I. The ability of the enemy spies to disguise themselves as ordinary Englishmen—to blend in with the host society—presents the greatest challenge to Buchan’s Hannay in The Thirty-Nine Steps. Black Stone are not literally double agents—they do not pretend to work for the British Secret Service—but they present precisely the epistemological threat that the double agent brings: the inability to tell “us” (friend) from “them” (enemy). As he becomes more involved in espionage, in fact, Hannay discovers that the foreign spies have learned to impersonate the ordinary British so as to deceive even the most vigilant of observers. In a pivotal scene, Hannay walks past the First Sea Lord, Lord Alloa, as he leaves a highly secret meeting with the French naval minister at Sir Walter Bullivant’s house. Ever vigilant, Hannay notices that this man recognizes him, even though he has never met Lord Alloa before: this Sea Lord is an imposter—a spy for Black Stone—who has successfully impersonated a Cabinet member and penetrated the most secret level of defense strategy (Steps, 102). This impersonation is temporary, not long-term, serving the specific purpose of the Black Stone spy (who has a photographic memory) to steal the military secrets and take them out of the country all at once.6 Later in the novel, when Hannay finds the lair of the Black Stone at Trafalgar House on the Kent Coast, the spies have so successfully impersonated British bourgeois householders, that even Hannay has doubts that they are actually foreign agents: “It was simply impossible to believe that these three hearty fellows were anything but what they seemed—three ordinary, game-playing, suburban Englishmen, wearisome if you like, but sordidly innocent” (116). The skills of duplicity and impersonation, so crucial to the



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successful double agent, are the key to the effectiveness of these foreign spies. Hannay himself is adept at disguise, but uses it to avoid detection in his own country rather than to pass as a native in hostile territory. In the sequel, Greenmantle, Sandy Arbuthnot works as a double agent by posing as the Islamic prophet Greenmantle, whom the Germans are planning to exploit in order to cause insurrection in the Middle East. As part of the team that executes this deception plot against the Germans, Hannay himself can be classed as a double agent. A more expansive treatment of the double—and of the importance of deception in espionage—is found in E. Phillips Oppenheim’s The Great Impersonation (1920). Set just prior to World War I in 1913, the story turns on the mystery over the true identity of the man known as Sir Everard Dominey, a landed gentleman in England. The novel begins with an encounter between Dominey and the German aristocrat, von Ragastein, in West Africa, in which the German points out “There is a very strong likeness between us” (Great Impersonation, 6). Due to the fact that the Englishman is in a state of physical decay, “the likeness was clear enough, although the advantage was all in favour of the other man who stood by the side of the camp bedstead with folded arms” (6). The tense, cat-and-mouse interaction between the two men plays out the profound imperial rivalry between Britain and Germany, which defined the early twentieth-century tensions of Europe. As Dominey is shown to be in decline, so there were widespread fears of Britain’s imperial deterioration, and the likelihood that it would be eclipsed by Germany.7 Dominey’s state of degeneration thus reflects anxieties that Britain was decrepit in contrast to the robust, virile German nation. The German’s insistence that “it is work which makes fibre, which gives balance to life” (11) contrasts with Dominey’s upper-class, leisured decadence and diffidence. The possibility that Germany would seek to strip Britain of its empire—taking over its possessions, or even invading Britain itself—is played out in von Ragastein’s comment: “My principal need in England is an identity. I shall take the Englishman’s. I shall return to England as Sir Everard Dominey” (18). Oppenheim presents a specific type of duplicity, that of identity theft: a literal replacement of one national subject by another, from a hostile nation. This disclosure might seem a clumsy narrative blunder on Oppenheim’s part: for he reveals the key plot event at the beginning of the novel. Yet in fact this proves a master stroke of narrative suspense: for the reader is in doubt for the remainder of the novel as to whether von Ragastein has succeeded in his intention to become a German double agent, impersonating Dominey, or whether the British aristocrat has somehow thwarted this plan and returned to his native land. The second half of the novel is set in England, and the conduct, speech, and intentions of “Dominey” are sufficiently ambiguous to

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leave us unsure of his identity. If the German has succeeded in his “Great Impersonation,” then he is perfectly placed as a double agent, pretending to be a British aristocrat while actually serving the interests of Germany: as he states early on to his accomplice, “As Sir Everard Dominey I shall be able to penetrate into the inner circles of Society” (18 emphasis added). This penetration implicitly includes access to Britain’s imperial defense secrets. “Dominey’s” reappearance in England with “a good deal of money” (22) alerts suspicion, for he had previously been lacking in funds to restore his hereditary estate, leading some of his friends to suspect that the new Dominey is an imposter. Yet the tantalizing possibility remains that the “Great Impersonation” referred to the title is actually something more complex: that the real Dominey is in fact playing the role of someone trying to impersonate him. In this case, Dominey would be playing a triple game, anticipating to the triple deception of the Circus in le Carré’s Spy Who Came In, or by the Soviet spymaster Karla in the “Karla Trilogy.” The narrative uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the true identity of the double—here, in both senses, as a doppelganger and double agent—is powerfully invoked by Oppenheim’s post-World War I novel. One of the questions raised by Oppenheim’s work is epistemological: how can one identify the difference between friend and enemy—between “us” and “them”—in order to expose and expel the “other” that threatens national defense and security? It also reveals the narrative options available to the novelist who includes a double agent. The novelist may inform the reader that there is a double agent, but withhold his or her identity. Alternatively, s/ he may reveal the specific identity of the traitor from the outset. Thirdly, the novelist may keep the reader in the dark even about the presence of a double agent until very late in the story, the method chosen by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale. The narrative instability that results from this inability to distinguish friend from enemy has political roots as well. Given the close political and cultural ties between Britain and Germany in the nineteenth century— reflected by the fact that Kaiser Wilhelm II who ruled the German Empire from 1888 to 1918 was the grandson of Queen Victoria—it is unsurprising that a German could impersonate a Briton, and vice versa. As Richard Scully argues, “underlying assumptions about the religious and racial connections between Britain and Germany (which were represented in the maps they produced) as well as close professional ties with their German counterparts … prevented them from depicting the German Reich as out outright enemy or ‘Other’ until the reality of open war made any other view impossible to sustain after 1914” (Images, 15). Of course the shift from a growing imperial rivalry between the nations (reflected in Riddle), to the brutal global conflict



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of World War I, meant that the stakes involved in being able to identify and classify specific racial or national traits became much higher. Language was one key area of difference: the Black Stone’s alienness is finally exposed in The Thirty-Nine Steps when the spies, at the moment of crisis, revert to type and start to speak German: “‘Schnell, Franz’ cried a voice, ‘das Boot, das Boot!’” (125). In his next novel, Greenmantle, Buchan makes it a priority to identify a specific German physiognomy in the character of Colonel Stumm, as though to forestall the possibility of further impersonation. As we will see in the next chapter, Buchan’s attempt to mark the German villain as indelibly alien, and hence recognizable, offers reassurance against the kind of deception that almost fooled Hannay in combating the Black Stone. Oppenheim’s text offered a more disturbing possibility: that a German spy could impersonate a British aristocrat for an extended period, fooling even his closest friends and associates. This anticipates the culmination of the double agent as a “mole” embedded in the host intelligence service, which le Carré would brilliantly recreate in Tinker Tailor over half a century later. This shadowy, furtive character of the double agent reflects another truism: s/he is an accomplished liar, whose utterances should always be taken with skepticism. For this reason, the double agent’s explanation of his motives and feelings—when they are offered—are suspect, alerting the reader to the possibility of further deception. Robert Kelway, in Elizabeth Bowen’s Heat of the Day, insists to Stella Rodway that he is innocent of treason, and takes offense that Stella has not told him that Harrison (a government agent) suspects him of passing War Office secrets to the Nazis. Yet he ends up confessing his guilt, claiming he could not explain himself before: “how was I to tell you in so many words?” (Bowen, 270). Even while admitting his guilt, however, Robert denies the moral grounds on which he might be condemned: “there are no more countries left; nothing but names. What country have you and I outside this room? Exhausted shadows, dragging themselves out again to fight” (267).8 By denying the reality of “countries,” Robert conveniently makes treason a meaningless crime, for there are, by this logic, no national loyalties to betray. This position anticipates the moral ambiguity of Graham Greene’s postwar spy fiction. Similarly, Robert denies the legitimacy of the very moral language of treason: “What is repulsing you is the idea of ‘betrayal,’ I suppose, isn’t it? In you the hangover from the word? Don’t you understand that all that language is dead currency? … what a terrific dust they can still raise in a mind, yours even” (268). Bowen brilliantly reveals the emptiness at the heart of Robert’s character, his inability to accept responsibility for his crimes even while he appears to admit them. There have been earlier signs, however, of a

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radical emptiness to Robert’s character: when Stella observes of his lodgings, “Robert, this room feels empty!” he replies “Each time I come back again into it I’m hit in the face by the feeling that I don’t exist—that I not only am not but never have been” (117). The double agent, then, emerges as a cipher, a nonperson whose disavowal of any personal or political loyalties leads him to an emotional void. Even while she appeals to visual evidence of Robert’s existence in the photos displayed on his wall, Stella ironically recognizes the puzzle of his identity: “‘What were you doing then—and then—and then?’ she asked, pointing from photograph to photograph. ‘Or at any rate, who was doing what you seem to have done?’” (117). The awkwardness of Bowen/ Stella’s language—the slippage between “you” and “who”—indicates the verbal distortions associated with the double agent. Like Greene’s Harry Lime, Kelway is trapped within a prison of disavowal that prevents him from attaining self-knowledge. While the title of Graham Greene’s novella The Third Man (1950)—published the year before Burgess and Maclean’s defections—may be coincidental, rather than a direct allusion to the Cambridge spy scandal, the fact of Greene’s having worked under Philby for SIS in Sierra Leone during World War II, and having become friends with the Soviet double agent, suggests tantalizing parallels between his fiction and the realities of espionage. Greene would controversially defend Philby in the introduction to My Silent War, in which he compared the Soviet spy to Catholics persecuted during the age of Elizabeth I: Philby, according to Greene, suffered from “the injustices or cruelties inflicted by human instruments” (“Kim Philby,” 1). Greene also, perhaps perversely, defended Philby’s record while working for SIS: “No one could have been a better chief than Kim Philby when he was in charge of the Iberian section of V. He worked harder than anyone and never gave the impression of labour” (“Kim Philby,” 2–3). While this may have been Greene’s impression at the time, subsequent knowledge must have shown him that Philby’s labor was actually devoted to undermining the British Secret Service from within. Again, Greene’s assertion that Philby “set about recruiting with care and enthusiasm” (3) has a somewhat bizarre irony, given that Philby was recruiting with Soviet interests in mind. Biographer Jeremy Lewis notes that “As a child, Graham had loved reading about spies and double agents and men on the run in the novels of William le Queux and John Buchan and Robert Louis Stevenson, and now he was sampling the world for himself” (Shades, 64). Thus Greene’s wartime involvement with SIS gave political expression to a fascination with spying that was literary in origin. Likewise, the figure of Kim Philby emerges as a central figure for two of Greene’s most significant postwar spy novels, The Third Man (1950) and The Human Factor (1978). Written in preparation for the screenplay of the film directed by Carol Reed, The Third Man explores



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the relationship between Rollo Martins—a writer of popular Westerns—and Harry Lime, his old school friend who invites him to postwar Vienna with the offer of some work.9 Lime of course has faked his death in order to escape the police investigation and continue his racketeering in a different sector of Vienna. This leads to Martins’s discovery that Lime has deceived him, that Lime is still alive: that Lime is in fact the Third Man. It would also become one of the most memorable scenes from Carol Reed’s film version, in which Lime appears in a suddenly lit doorway. On first impression, the film seems a faithful translation of Greene’s text to the screen. The image of Lime, lurking in the shadows and being suddenly illuminated by light from a neighbor’s window, is common to both versions.10 This visual dimension to the story is perhaps what Greene had in mind in writing, in his “Preface” to the novella: “The Third Man was never written to be read but only to be seen” (7), adding that “The film, in fact, is better than the story because it is in this case the finished state of the story” (8). The claim that the novel was not intended to be read identifies it not only as a preparation for a screenplay but also as a secret text, one that was not intended for the public’s eyes. In relating his working relationship with Carol Reed, Greene describes how the two men “worked closely together, covering so many feet of carpet a day, acting scenes at each other. No third ever joined our conferences” (Third Man, 8). This disavowal of a third—a Third Man—curiously replicates the disavowals of the witnesses in the story itself. I would suggest though that there was a “third” present at the creation of the story, though this third was—as Calloway alleges of Lime—“his ghost.” (Third, 132). The Soviet double agent Kim Philby was very much a figure in the encryption of The Third Man. In his preface to Philby’s memoir, Greene states admiringly, “His character studies are admirable. Don’t talk to me of ghost writers. Only Philby could have been responsible for these” (“Kim Philby,” 2). One might add that Greene’s own character studies are no less impressive, and that Philby—like a ghost—haunts the pages of his fiction from the 1950s. Jeremy Lewis describes how Greene remained as “loyal to him [Philby] through his defection to the USSR in 1964 [sic], the revelations of his involvement with Burgess and Maclean and his betrayal of British agents during the early years of the Cold war” (Shades, 317–18). Given the deep impact of Philby on Greene’s imaginative life, it is not surprising to see him surfacing in Greene’s fiction.11 Greene had known Philby since working under him when Philby headed SIS’s Iberian section in World War II, which controlled counterespionage in Freetown, Sierra Leone where Greene was posted. The question of whether Greene knew that Philby was a Soviet double agent has never been decisively settled. As Lewis states, “Quite how much Graham knew, or suspected, of

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Philby’s activities is a matter of conjecture” (Shades, 453). However, Lewis notes that Greene met with Peter Smollet—the Times correspondent and himself a suspected Soviet agent—in Vienna where the two “found themselves discussing their mutual friend [Philby] in the freezing Vienna winter” (Shades, 453). Andrew Boyle, author of Climate of Treason—an influential book about the Cambridge spy ring—alleged that Greene had said of Philby, “‘I might have guessed there was something fishy about his rise. If he’d blurted out the truth at the time, I supposed I’d have given him twenty-four hours to clear out. Then I’d have denounced him” (Shades, 455). However, Greene refuted this claim on stylistic grounds, saying “I would never use the phrase ‘blurted out the truth’” (455). What is clear is that there are parallels between the themes of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal explored in Greene’s fiction, and the complexities of the Greene-Philby relationship. If, as Lewis claims, “Philby was to be a beneficiary of Graham’s loyalty” (Shades, 452) it is striking that Greene’s public pronouncements highlighted the virtues of disloyalty, claiming for example that “disloyalty is our privilege” (Shades, 454). Philby’s disloyalty to his country—at whatever stage Greene learned of it—certainly did not disqualify him from Greene’s personal loyalty as a friend. The troubled friendship itself forms the basis of The Third Man. The numerous parallels between Lime and Philby, start most obviously with their shared first name of “Harold”—and Philby’s Soviet case officer was code-named “Harry,” (real name Valeri Makayev) to whom he confessed that he was “‘alarmed and concerned for his own security’” (Andrew, Defence, 426). Both Lime and Philby emerge as charismatic and superficially charming men, who are ruthless in the pursuit of their own interests and protection of their secrets. Philby’s callous behavior to his wife Aileen is reflected in Lime’s harsh treatment of Anna, whom he passes off to Martins saying “she’s a good little thing” and “be Kind to her, she’s worth it” (Third Man, 138). Lime’s ruthless exploitation of the Penicillin racket—selling the tainted medicine to hospitals where it is administered to children, causing death and brain damage—parallels Philby’s calculating exploitation of the market for another valuable commodity: state secrets. As Christopher Andrew writes, “British intelligence calculated that, since their recruitment in 1934–1935, Philby, Burgess, and Maclean had supplied more than 20,000 pages of ‘valuable’ classified documents and agent reports” (Defence, 426), leading to the capture and execution of numerous British and American agents. It is worth recalling that Philby’s familiar name was taken from Kipling’s boy spy—as David Stafford notes, “It was to remain one of the supreme ironies of his long career as a Soviet agent that he should always be known by the name that Kipling had given to the boy hero of his classic novel who spied against the Russians in the great game” (Silent, 204). Le Carré also emphasized parallels between the two Kims in his introduction to The Philby Conspiracy:



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“Kim prowled the edges of the Establishment as his namesake stalked the back-streets of Lahore: ‘in headlong flight from housetop to housetop under cover of the hot dark.’ For the Philbys strode from peak to peak, and fools lived in the valley” (le Carré, “Introduction,” The Philby Conspiracy, 5). Like Philby, and Kim, Lime is permanently linked with boyhood because of the childhood associations of his schoolboy friendship with Martins. But this is not an innocent boyhood, and Martins comes to a more sinister view of Lime’s juvenility: “For the first time Rollo Martins looked back through the years without admiration, as he thought, He’s never grown up … it carried with it the horrifying and horrible gift of eternal youth” (Third Man, 136). Where Philby had been working covertly for the Soviet Union for years, Lime has been hiding in the Soviet sector of the divided postwar Vienna: an implicit sign of his shifting allegiances. In Greene’s novella, Anna Schmidt— a Russian subject using false Austrian papers to remain in Vienna—is arrested by the Soviet authorities, who apparently have been tipped off by Lime.12 Lime’s betrayal of Anna to the Soviets is one of the most intriguing links between Lime and Philby—suggesting that both were covertly working for the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The shock of Martin’s discovery that Lime is alive—has used and betrayed him—reflects the sense of betrayal experienced by friends and colleagues of Philby on learning of his treason (see Nigel West, At Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 60–4). This inevitably raises the question, if Greene suspected that Philby was the “Third Man”—a Soviet double agent—why did he not, as a former SIS officer, make his knowledge public, as Martins does with Lime, and help to expose and destroy his corrupt friend? One answer to this question is that Greene viewed loyalty as a personal rather than a political or patriotic matter: in an interview, Greene stated “I never believed in the prime importance of loyalty to one’s country. Loyalty to individuals seems to me to be far more important” (Lewis, Shades of Greene, 452). Manifesting this loyalty, Martins at the crucial moment helps Lime to escape: through Calloway’s perspective, “If he had called out then it would have been an easy shot, but it was not, I suppose, Lime the penicillin racketeer who was escaping down the street; it was Harry. He hesitated just long enough for Lime to put the kiosk between them” (Third Man, 148). Another possible explanation of Greene’s silence is that The Third Man was itself was a coded warning to Philby that Greene knew his secret identity as a Soviet spy and would not keep this secret indefinitely. This claim is made by Ron Rosenbaum, who notes in an essay on the film that Greene had mysteriously transferred out of SIS in 1944, despite being offered a post as Philby’s replacement as head of the Iberian section of SIS (Rosenbaum, “Thriller of the Century”). According to Greene’s biographer Norman Sherry, “Perhaps Greene, always intuitive, resigned because he suspected that Philby

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was a Russian penetration agent. Greene once told me that if he had known that Philby was a Soviet counterspy, he ‘might have allowed Philby 24 hours to flee as a friend, then reported him’” (cited in Rosenbaum). Philby eventually took a job as a correspondent in Beirut, from where he defected to the Soviet Union in January 1963. One of Philby’s few Western visitors after his defection to Moscow, Graham Greene remained personally loyal to the double agent (Lewis, 457). As Philby recalled of this meeting, “For the first time we were able to speak frankly with each other” (Lewis, 457).13 The growing suspicions of Philby’s treason had a private dimension as well as a public one. Philby tormented his second wife, Aileen, whom he feared had learned his secret. A friend of Aileen’s later claimed that she heard Aileen accuse Philby one evening: “I know you’re the Third Man!” (Andrew, Defence, 433). Aileen’s words are not simply an accusation—“you’re the Third Man”—but a claim to knowledge, “I know you’re the Third Man.” It is this claim that is key to the influence that Philby’s betrayal had on the British spy novel. Postwar novels about the double agent dwell on the personal consequences and domestic fallout or betrayal, just as much as on its political consequences. Indeed, where the political effects of treason may be abstract and remote, the personal cost is immediate and concrete, meaning that the novelist can represent betrayal more effectively in personal terms. In Aileen’s case, her knowledge, in fact, proves extremely harmful for the accuser, leading to her physical decline and eventual death on December 12, 1957 of congestive heart failure. The public disavowal of Philby’s treachery, by contrast, allows the government to protect itself against the damaging repercussions of such knowledge: as D.A. Miller writes of the structure of disavowal, “by means of disavowal one can make an admission while remaining comfortably blind to its consequences” (Novel and the Police, 16).14 An intriguing aspect of the double agent figure is that it bridges the divide between the realistic and romantic schools of spy fiction. While the subject of treason might seem to be a matter for realistic treatment, the impact of the Cambridge Five can be felt in Fleming’s Bond novels no less than in the morally complex masterpieces of Greene. The 1957 novel FRWL finds Bond reluctantly serving on a Committee of inquiry investigating the fallout from the Burgess and Maclean defections (FRWL, 100). Clearly uninterested in learning the lessons from this scandal, Bond is rescued from his tedious committee appointment by M who assigns him a new, more exciting mission, involving a Spektor decoding machine in Istanbul: as though eager to sweep the damaging effects of the Cambridge spy ring under the Turkish carpet. Yet Bond’s own career in the series of novels began with a case of a “mole” that had penetrated SIS. Written not long after the Burgess and Maclean defections, Casino Royale takes the bold leap of making the Soviet double agent a beautiful, sexually alluring female. The risk of this strategy is



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that Bond ends up looking like a foolish victim of a classic honey-trap, lacking the virility to take decisive action. Eco views Bond’s betrayal by Vesper as a genre-defining incident—a vital component of Fleming’s “narrative machine” (146)—noting, “in a novel by [Mickey] Spillane the hero would have killed her, whereas in Fleming’s the woman has the grace to commit suicide” (Eco, “Narrative,” 144). Because Vesper “arouses the confident love of Bond” (Eco, 144) her betrayal is at once sexual and political, pushing the hero into a professional and moral crisis. Indeed, Fleming establishes the influential novelistic pattern in which the political betrayals of the double agent are represented as personal, emotional, and sexual betrayals. The success of the double agent in deceiving him—even while sharing his bed—leads Bond to question the dichotomy of “friend” and “enemy,” calling into doubt the polarities of the Cold War. Eco notes that “at this point Bond is ripe for the crisis, for the salutary recognition of universal ambiguity, and he sets off along the route traversed by the protagonist of le Carré” (145). Indeed, one effect of the double agent is that it undermines the conventional view of Bond as a caricature and romantic fantasy.15 Bond does not undergo another comparable crisis until the death of Tracy di Vicenza, his wife, in 1963s OHMSS. This foundational role of the double agent at once introduces a crisis of faith for the protagonist in the visibility and detectability of the enemy, and allows him to overcome it. In subsequent Bond novels, the enemy will be monstrous, distinctive, and visible.16 With hindsight, Bond’s early antagonism towards Vesper might strike us as a foreshadowing of her duplicity. Bond begins to suspect early in the novel that Vesper, despite his growing passion for her, is holding something back. On their first meeting, she had presented a challenge to him. We learn that “Bond was excited by her beauty and intrigued by her composure… . At the same time he felt a vague disquiet” (Casino, 33). It is not clear whether this “disquiet” is due to Bond’s sexual attraction to a colleague, resentment that M has sent him a female partner, or an early suspicion about her treachery. On their first dinner date together, she jokingly refers to a “horrible secret about black velvet” (52), a remark that—with hindsight—foreshadows the far more deadly secret she conceals about her true allegiances.17 Even her humorous remark, “if you hear me scream tonight I shall have sat on a cane chair” (34) is a dark anticipation of the later scene in which Bond is tortured by Le Chiffre while sitting on just such a chair from which the seat has been removed. Vesper’s confession that she is a double agent takes place at the end of the novel, in the form of a letter to Bond. As she then commits suicide by taking a bottle of sleeping pills, the letter is also a suicide note, denying Bond the opportunity to confront her in person. In her letter she explains how she was recruited by the MWD (Ministerstwo Wnutrennich Djel—the Soviet

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intelligence service) who had captured a Polish agent whom she loved, threatening to kill him unless Vesper worked as a mole in British intelligence. On the one hand, Vesper’s confession breaks with convention by showing that a woman may be an effective double agent and deceive the men that she works with in the Secret Service. Specifically, while her treason may confirm Bond’s blind prejudice against women working in SIS, she also reveals her intellect in that she has always been one step ahead of him. On the other hand, Vesper’s motive for her betrayal—her love for a man—reinforces the stereotype that women are governed by their emotions and vulnerable because of their personal relationships (Casino, 178). The victims of Vesper’s betrayals include Bond himself, whose cover she had revealed to Le Chiffre. To offset this, however, Vesper claims that her work as a double agent was compromised by her growing emotional involvement with Bond (178). Both Vesper’s original agreement to work as a double agent, and her decision to abandon this course, are determined by her emotional involvements with men. This motive is significantly different from the male double agents whose motives are either mercenary (as in the case of Harry Lime) or ideological, as with Bill Haydon. Moreover, where Philby would brazen out the period following his disclosure as “The Third Man” in 1955—assisted by the British government’s clearing of his name—Vesper commits suicide rather than face those whom she has betrayed. Bond’s reaction to reading Vesper’s posthumous confession has two distinct dimensions. At a personal level he is emotionally moved by her death, but at a professional level, Bond is devastated by the consequences of Vesper’s betrayals as a mole: “His professional mind was completely absorbed with the consequences—the covers which must have been blown over the years, the codes which the enemy must have broken, the secrets which must have leaked from the center of the very section devoted to penetrating the Soviet Union” (Casino, 180). Significantly, this was Philby’s own Section IX—dedicated to Soviet counterintelligence—suggesting that Fleming knew or at least suspected that Philby was the Third Man. The reflections on Vesper’s treachery are a veiled commentary on Philby’s betrayals. Tellingly, Vesper’s confession of her treason also leads Bond to a highly critical assessment of his own methods: Bond feels that he was playing “Red Indians” while Vesper betrayed her country, a phrase that in the context of the novel recalls Le Chiffre’s mocking description of Bond’s antics. Yet it also alludes to the 30AU that Ian Fleming had devised during World War II, carrying out intelligence-grabbing missions during Allied invasions of Nazi-held Europe. While the activities of 30AU—also known in Naval Intelligence as Ian Fleming’s Red Indians—had led to some significant “pinches” of German intelligence and technological material—such as the German naval archive— Fleming recognizes that by 1953 the intelligence landscape has changed.18



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The real enemies, Fleming discloses, are no longer wearing Nazi uniforms, but may be lurking within one’s own intelligence organization. Bond’s selfcriticism—far more apparent in Fleming’s novels than in the film versions— suggests Fleming’s realization that while he was playing Red Indians with his 30AU during World War II, Burgess, Maclean, and unknown others were quietly undermining such activities, handing over secrets to their Soviet masters. Bond’s self-castigation suggests that part of the political purpose of Casino Royale was to apologize to the Americans for the damage to their new secret service caused by British traitors. Christopher Moran argues that Fleming’s flattering portrayal of the CIA in Casino—one of the first works of fiction in which the recently formed agency plays a role—is designed to appease American outrage over the betrayal of American intelligence by the Cambridge spies: “In May1951 the dramatic flight to the USSR of gentleman spies Burgess and Maclean provoked a paroxysm of anger within the CIA, particularly because it was a double defection. Some even suspected that SIS had assisted in their escape to the Soviet Union. Maclean’s treachery was seen as particularly damaging because he had served in the British Embassy in Washington, DC and had been entrusted with details of Anglo-U.S. nuclear policy” (Moran, 133). This was followed by a “White Paper” from the British government that “exonerated Kim Philby as being the third man” and was “littered with false statements” (Moran, 134). Casino shows that Bond’s betrayal by a fellow agent commits him to a career of hunting down and destroying SMERSH, the Soviet secret service that has turned Vesper and used her as a weapon against her own side. beyond any specific mission that he may be assigned to—or individual villain he may do battle with—Bond has made it his own overriding vendetta to “go after the threat behind the spies, the threat that made them spy” (Casino, 181). Notably the term “spy” is used to denote an enemy double agent, distancing Bond himself from the implicitly pejorative term (he is referred to as a “Secret Agent”). Thenceforth, Bond becomes a lethal weapon on behalf of America as well as Britain. A significant turning point in the representation of the double agent in spy fiction comes with the beginning of John le Carré’s career as a spy novelist. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold—published in 1963, the year of Kim Philby’s defection to the Soviet Union—may claim to be, with The Ipcress File, the earliest instance in which the creation, penetration, and exposure of the double agent is the central focus of a spy novel. Le Carré shows that the double agent has nothing to do with loyalty, merely utility. Crucially, Leamas feels no affection or loyalty towards Mundt, even though he is the most valuable agent the Circus has. Karl Riemeck—whom Leamas did feel protective towards—was merely Mundt’s stool pigeon, distracting attention away from the senior member of Abteilung. Leamas’s insistence throughout that

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London could not have been running such an important double agent from Berlin without his knowledge, proves unfounded, perhaps illustrating his own arrogance. The double agent has ruthlessly exposed Leamas’s own blind spots and limitations as an agent. For the Circus, the end justifies the means. The Berlin Wall, at which location the novel begins and ends—in each case with the death of a British agent—proves impenetrable: “the wall dominates The Spy Who Came in from the Cold as an impediment to understanding … an absolute threshold that cannot be crossed” (Hepburn, Intrigue, 175). Following le Carré’s groundbreaking debut as a spy novelist, the double agent would become a prevailing, even obsessive, focus of espionage fiction, even into the twenty-first century. This preoccupation may reflect the zeitgeist of the era in both Britain and the US, where conspiracy theories, and scandals about penetration agents in Western intelligence abounded. In Britain, Operation FOOT led to the expulsion in 1971 of over 100 Soviet intelligence agents from the UK, who had been carrying out espionage under the cover of the Soviet Embassy in London (Andrew, Defence, 565–7). In the US, the Watergate political scandal—involving a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters housed in the Watergate building in Washington, D.C.—ultimately led to Richard Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency, and caused widespread public distrust of the government and its intelligence agencies, in particular the CIA. As Christopher Andrew cites William Colby, then Director of Central Intelligence, in 1975 “The CIA came under the closest and harshest public scrutiny that any such service has ever experienced … anywhere in the world” (Defence, 635). Meanwhile Roger Hollis, the head of MI5, launched a secret investigation into his deputy, Graham Mitchell, suspecting him of being a Soviet agent. Hollis himself had fallen under suspicion of being a Soviet mole (Defence, 327–8). Meanwhile Britain’s Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, became convinced that he was the victim of surveillance and “dirty tricks” campaigns by MI5, as well as South African intelligence (BOSS) and the CIA (Andrew, Defence, 635). Wilson’s conspiracy theories, which contributed to his resignation as PM in March 1975, seem to have little basis in fact, although there was a secret MI5 file on Wilson that the DG, Sir Michael Hanley, decided should be removed from the Central Registry (Andrew, 632). Wilson’s belief that both 10 Downing Street and his office in the House of Commons were bugged by MI5 may have been the product of his imagination, but it does seem symptomatic of the atmosphere of paranoia within government and bureaucracies in this period. To this we may add the continuing saga of the Cambridge spy ring, culminating in the discovery in 1974 that Sir Anthony Blunt—the Queen’s art curator—had been the “Fourth Man,” working with Philby, Burgess, and Maclean as a Soviet agent (Andrew, Defence, 440). More damaging still was the revelation of a cover-up, in which Blunt had been offered immunity from



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prosecution in exchange for his confession. In fact his confession had taken place back in 1964, so that when Blunt was publicly exposed as the “Fourth Man” and stripped of his knighthood in 1979, it cast further doubts on the integrity of the Security Service. The exposure of Blunt confirmed public suspicions about the political corruption of the Establishment: indeed “Blunt was almost everything the media then hoped for in a Soviet mole” (Andrew, 706). Andrew’s suggestion that the media “hoped” for a Soviet mole of a certain pedigree is itself an interesting comment of how British public opinion helped to generate the scandal. It is against this background of widespread suspicion combined with a revived public interest in the Cambridge spy ring, that the major accomplishments of le Carré and Deighton can best be understood. The fact that both novelists—arguably the two most important spy novelists of the late twentieth century—chose to write trilogies featuring double agents, also confirms the literary effects of the longstanding saga of treachery at the heart of British intelligence.19 The first novel in le Carré’s trilogy—Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy—is launched by the Circus’s effort to identify and extirpate a “mole” at the highest level of British intelligence. Yet along with this focus comes a sense of disillusionment and cynicism, a loss of faith in the moral and ideological opposition between “us” and “them.” In these novels, moreover, le Carré explores in more depth the parallels between sexual betrayal and the duplicity of the double agent. George Smiley’s troubled investigation into the identity of the mole buried at the heart of the Circus is mirrored by his no-less troubled relationship with his aristocratic wife, Ann, who has been unfaithful to him on numerous occasions. Enduring the precariousness of his position as a “mole hunter,” Smiley finds no consolation in domestic happiness: indeed, he emerges as a poignant and lonely figure. Le Carré’s incorporation of the Cambridge spy scandal into his spy fiction of the 1970s has personal roots. Significantly, le Carré’s own career as a spy with SIS was abruptly ended by Kim Philby’s defection. Le Carré worked for SIS in the late 1950s and early 1960s, his cover being that of a British diplomat “running agents, handling traitors, and luring defectors” (“Le Carré Interview”). In a BBC interview billed as being his “last television interview” le Carré claimed that the reason for his abrupt termination with SIS, was that Philby had blown his cover after defecting to Moscow. In le Carré’s words, “I’d been betrayed by Philby. I actually refused to meet Philby in Moscow in 1988, I think it was. For me Philby was a thoroughly bad lot, just a naturally bent man” (“Le Carré Interview”). Sharing none of his fellow-novelist Graham Greene’s respect or affection for Philby, le Carré’s course as a novelist was nonetheless shaped by this crucial betrayal. Le Carré’s hostility to Philby is apparent in the Preface he wrote to The Philby Conspiracy: “Deceit was Philby’s life’s work; deceit, as I understand it, his

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nature” (7). Yet le Carré views Philby as a symptom both of Britain’s postwar imperial decline, and of the corrupt tendencies within the Establishment: “SIS … far from being a putrescent arm upon a healthy body, was infected by a general sickness which grew out of the sloth and disorientation of afterwar. It is arguable that Kim Philby … was the spy and catalyst whom the Establishment deserved” (“Kim Philby,” 15). Again, there is a suggestion that the Cambridge spies were a symptom of a wider social malaise in Britain. Hence in writing his epic trilogy of moles and betrayal, le Carré portrays the double agent as a mirror of a declining society. At the beginning of Tinker, Tailor, George Smiley—who had a minor role in The Spy Who—is in disgraced retirement, having been ousted from the Circus—le Carré’s term for SIS—following the downfall and death of his mentor, Control. Smiley learns from his former colleague, Peter Guillam, that the Circus has been reorganized in his absence. The new arrangements made following Control’s death smack of paranoia, yet this correlation between “secrecy” and “security” is fatally undermined as Smiley is informed that there is a mole in the Secret Intelligence Service: according to Rickie Tarr’s account of SIS moles, most of them come from the upper classes. This frames the betrayal a class issue: the mole is a fraction of the ruling class, and betrays his caste as much as his country. Smiley learns from the source of Rickie Tarr—a covert operative in the Far East who Smiley himself had appointed— that the mole recruited by Karla has the code name Gerald (Tinker, 60). Thus it is only from outside England that the presence of the mole can be identified. Smiley is brought back into the Circus to investigate the mole, precisely because he has been made an outsider, as Lacon observes: “It’s the oldest question of all, George. Who can spy on the spies? Who can smell out the fox without running with him?” (Tinker, 74). Lacon’s speech invokes the ancient history of espionage—the “oldest question of all”—while also addressing the contemporary urgency of the crisis. The problem with the internal mole-hunt is that nobody can be trusted. If Blunt was everything the public wanted in a Soviet mole, however, Smiley was all the Circus needed in a mole-hunter: a highly trained operative, formerly part of the upper echelons of the Circus yet sufficiently outside—following his termination—to be able to “spy on the spies.” Before his death Control had used the code names “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Poorman, Beggarman,” to designate the various senior intelligence officers who were under suspicion as the mole. The use of a children’s rhyme in this context—which forms the epigraph as well as providing the title to the novel—suggests le Carré’s sense of espionage as a “game” played by menboys who, like Harry Lime, have never grown up. Even the term “Circus” implies less a serious intelligence operation than an entertainment for children, chief among whose personnel are, of course, clowns. Significantly,



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the novel begins not with the Circus but in a boys’s prep school, Thursgood’s, where the former SIS agent Jim Prideaux, permanently injured while on a mission, seeks refuge as a French teacher living in a caravan on the school grounds. By opening the novel in this way, le Carré invites parallels between the school and the Circus: in contrast to the “new boy” Bill Roach who assists him, Prideaux calls himself “an old boy” (7)—alluding to the public school and Oxbridge connections that often ensured a high position on the British establishment.20 Prideaux, like Smiley, has left the Circus under a cloud, following a failed mission in which he was shot in the back, itself an image of betrayal. Smiley’s suspects as the mole Gerald boil down to four highly placed members of the Circus, who have flourished since the demise of Control Percy Alleline, a bureaucrat who has taken leadership of the Circus following Control’s death; Roy Bland, Toby Esterhase, and Bill Haydon. Haydon is the patrician, Oxbridge educated head of London station whose relationship with Smiley has a particularly complex history due to his suspected affair with Smiley’s wife. Connie Sachs, the Circus’s principal researcher and Smiley’s key ally, voices a regret that Smiley and Haydon were not more compatible as colleagues; identifying them as the two brightest hopes of the Circus, Connie likens the failure of their relationship to Britain’s decline as a global power. “you’d have been so good together, you and Bill, if it could have worked. You’d have brought back the old spirit” (Tinker, 114). Her phrasing implies that Bill and George would have been a good couple, a renewal of the male homosocial bonds of empire. From her own position of exile—Connie was also a victim of the “new broom” (Tinker, 73) that has swept out the Circus following Control’s death—she observes the demoralizing effect of Britain’s waning influence in world affairs: “Poor loves. Trained to Empire, trained to rule the waves. All gone. All taken away. Byebye world. You’re the last, George, you and Bill” (114). The suspect and the mole-hunter are mirror images of each other, representing two different paths that the postwar British agent might take: unswerving loyalty to the cause, versus a secret life of betrayal. In this pairing, Connie—and the narrative— prepare the reader for the revelation that it is indeed Bill Haydon, the “last” of the imperial spies, who is the mole Gerald. It is apparently Haydon’s disillusionment with Britain’s declining status—especially its subservience to the US—that has activated the mole.21 After all his labour in exposing the traitor, Smiley’s reaction on eventually penetrating the identity of the mole is surprisingly subdued: “He knew, of course. He had always known it was Bill” (Tinker, 355). Smiley’s having “always known” is one indication that the novel replays the twice-told tale of Philby’s treachery. This insight takes the reader to the heart of the hypocrisy of the British establishment: the knowledge of Haydon’s treachery is shared,

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even if subconsciously, by all the leading players, yet is repressed in order to protect their own security. Hoping the problem would “go away” represents the disavowal of their complicity with Haydon’s treason. There are striking parallels with the disavowals of Philby’s treachery—including Macmillan’s public clearing of his name—and of the government cover-up of Blunt’s treason. In le Carré’s world of espionage, personal betrayals by friends and lovers are parallel to, and arguably no less damaging than, the betrayal of state secrets. As though to emphasize this analogy, Smiley recalls a strained meeting with his wife Ann on the Cornish cliffs, and wonders how much his wife knew about Haydon’s treachery (Tinker, 355). In wondering whether Ann knew of Haydon’s secret identity as the mole, Smiley in effect doubts the validity of his own marriage. In fact the “shadow” of Bill Haydon has been cast over his relationship from the beginning, as Smiley eventually learns from Haydon that his affair with Ann was a cunning part of his cover (373). In this convergence of domestic, sexual, and political betrayals, le Carré destabilizes the seeming polarities of the Cold War by depicting the resemblance between East and West, self and other, “Us” and “Them.” Subsequently, Tinker Tailor portrays the British Circus and Moscow “Centre” as mirror images of each other, sharing similar methods, each trying to outguess the other in the game of secrecy. In order to penetrate the identity of the mole, therefore, Smiley must know his enemy. Hence, the novel establishes a deeper mirroring of methods—of secrecy, deception, and betrayal—that takes precedence over the “opposite” ideological systems of the two sides. In the Cold War novel not only are “such defenses indistinguishable from that which they defend against” (Miller, Novel, 204) but the protagonist becomes inseparable from the enemy he seeks. In a 1991 introduction to the novel, le Carré, revealed his own private sympathy with the traitor, even while emphasizing his dislike of the “real life spy” on whom he was based, referring to Philby as “one of the—thank God, unrealized—possibilities of my nature” (Introduction Tinker Tailor, xiv). Le Carré here suggests another application of the “double”—as an alterego, a dark and “unrealized” aspect of the loyal spy’s nature. This is mirrored in Smiley’s unwilling identification with Bill Haydon. As David Stafford has convincingly argued—dismissing the idea that George Smiley was based on Maurice Oldfield, head of SIS from 1973 until 1978—“More convincing as a model for Smiley is David Cornwell. Smiley, le Carré has confessed, is a fantasy about himself” (Silent Game, 207). Stafford does not, however, take account of the duality between the extra-fictional spy and his fictional counterpart, of the private identification of le Carré and Smiley with the greatest traitors of their generation.



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Despite Haydon’s downfall and death at the end of Tinker Tailor—or perhaps because of it—the double agent remains a haunting presence throughout the Karla Trilogy. In the culminating work, Smiley’s People (1979), Smiley seeks to turn the tables on Karla, attempting to outwit him in one final battle. Beginning with the assassination of Vladimir, a Soviet defector working for the Circus, the novel is in some ways a mirror image of Tinker Tailor. Smiley is again brought out of retirement—reminding us that he occupies a liminal space at the periphery of the professional spy world—and offered the chance to redeem himself (once more) by tracing a series of mysterious deaths back to Karla. Throughout the concluding narrative of the trilogy, Smiley’s People, it becomes clear that Haydon’s ghost has not been exorcised, and that Smiley is overwhelmed by a sense of failure in both his professional and personal lives. As part of Smiley’s quest to track down Karla and exploit his weaknesses, the aging spy draws on former colleagues who have also been pushed out: such as Toby Esterhase—formerly head of the “Lamplighters,” now working as a shady art dealer in London, and Connie Sachs—the Circus’s erstwhile chief researcher, who has retired to run an animal shelter near Oxford. By bringing back these characters, le Carré shows that the psychic and emotional trauma caused by the double agent’s betrayals, as well as the institutional damage to British intelligence, have not been resolved. Smiley is not only seeking a personal revenge against Karla, but also trying to salvage some pride for the damaged Secret Service he has devoted his life to: “Like an archeologist who has delved all his life in vain, Smiley had begged for one last day, and this was it” (Smiley’s, 188). Smiley gains the advantage over his nemesis by ruthlessly exploiting Karla’s weakness—his love for his daughter who has been placed in a psychiatric clinic in Switzerland, under the secret supervision of another Soviet agent, Grigoriev. Having discovered that the “mad girl,” known as Alexandra, is actually Karla’s daughter Tatiana, Smiley finally has the leverage he needs to manipulate Karla, and threatens him and his daughter with destruction. This is symbolic payback for the way Karla exploited Smiley’s troubled marriage with Ann, instructing Bill Haydon to bed her so that Smiley would not be able to see him “straight” (Tinker, 373). At the end of People, Smiley waits anxiously for Karla to come over from the East, and is rewarded by the arrival of the Soviet spymaster. The success of bringing Karla over to the West seems to vindicate Smiley—and to some extent the Circus—gaining the perfect retribution against Moscow Central for its “turning” of Bill Haydon into a double agent, who leaked secrets for many years. Certainly Toby Esterhase’s response to the final triumph is enthusiastic: “‘George,’ he began. ‘All your life. Fantastic!’” (Smiley’s, 398). What Toby seems to mean here, is that the defection of Karla has vindicated Smiley’s entire career—which has been focused on the battle

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with Karla—and redeemed the catastrophic betrayals of Haydon and others. Yet Smiley’s own response is curiously muted: as Guillam congratulates him for his personal achievement—“George, you won”—Smiley answers “Did I? ... Yes. Yes, well I suppose I did” (398). This diffident tone may reflect Smiley’s innate modesty, his unwillingness to take personal credit for the victory or indeed to see life in terms of clear-cut victories and defeats. If the Cold War has taught Smiley anything, it is that triumphs—like failures—are always transient. His greatest success was in abducting Grigoriev and turning him into a Circus double agent, securing his collaboration in the trap set for Karla: as Toby will witness, “In every successful interrogation … there is one slip which cannot be recovered; one gesture, tacit or direct, even if it is only a half-smile … which marks the shift away from resistance towards collaboration” (Smiley’s 350). Smiley’s masterful interrogation of Grigoriev—during which he turns him into a double agent working against Karla—marks the zenith of his intelligence career, as the scene marks the triumph of the Karla Trilogy itself. Yet, Karla’s appearance as he crosses the bridge into West Berlin is almost poignantly defeated: “One little man, hatless, with a satchel. He took a step forward and in the halo Smiley saw his face, aged and weary and travelled, the short hair turned to white by a sprinkling of snow” (Smiley’s, 397). We see that the battle with Smiley has taken its toll on Karla, as it has on his antagonist. The reference to a “halo” strikes a dissonant note, suggesting a saintly quality to the Soviet spymaster. It is hard to avoid the impression that Karla—in his humble and wearied appearance—is a mirror image of Smiley himself. Moreover the conclusion also suggests a deeper ambivalence about Karla’s defection: it is a symbolic victory rather than truly an intelligence triumph. It would have been far more useful for the Circus had Karla remained in place at the pinnacle of Moscow Central, while working as a double agent for the Circus. By defecting, Karla ensures that all the spy networks he has been running will be closed down, and that Moscow Central will be able to defend itself against his revelations. An apt illustration of the vital difference between a defector and a double agent, the oddly muted conclusion of Smiley’s People suggests that, if the battle has been won, the Cold War continues to divide lives, damage emotions, and fragment identities. The damage caused by the Cambridge spies, le Carré tells us, cannot be repaired by a single defection, however momentous. If Tinker Tailor was a thinly veiled portrait of Kim Philby, Graham Greene’s late novel The Human Factor suggested that the most famous double agent of the century had lost none of his hold on the popular imagination. In his 1980 autobiography, Ways of Escape, Greene explained that his purpose in writing The Human Factor—published in 1978—was to produce “a novel of espionage free from the conventional violence, which has not, in



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spite of James Bond, been a feature of the British Secret Service. I wanted to present the Service unromantically as a way of life, men going daily to their office to earn their pensions, the background much like that of any other profession … and within each character the more important private life” (227). Greene here sets up an intriguing opposition between the “conventional violence” of fictional espionage, and the “more important private life” in which, he believes, the real Secret Service agent lives like any other professional. Yet curiously, Greene makes no mention of the fact that his protagonist is a double agent, whose “private life” serves as part of his cover. In fact, as the events of the novel reveal, Castle’s routine is far from mundane but has disastrous consequences for himself and others. Perhaps to emphasize the contrast with Bond, Greene plays down the sensational elements of his own spy novel. One might infer that Greene, by his own account, sets out to write a domestic spy novel: a perhaps paradoxical hybrid that would alter the narrative trajectory and political focus of the “novel of espionage.” As Nancy Armstrong argues in Desire and Domestic Fiction, the prevailing nineteenth-century fascination with the domestic novel is by no means a thing of the past: “readers [today] remain enchanted by narratives in which a woman’s virtue alone overcomes sexual aggression and transforms male desire into middle-class love, the stuff that modern families are made of” (Desire, 6). In writing a domestic spy novel, Greene would seem to challenge the gendered conventions of spy fiction as a masculine genre in which action predominates over emotion, and the protagonist pursues covert adventures in remote locations. Unlike James Bond and his glamorous spy brethren, SIS agent Maurice Castle is preoccupied with the “more important private life” rather than his career and its political implications. In contrast to Smiley, who gives his career priority over his marital relationship, Castle first priority is his domestic life. However, The Human Factor ultimately disrupts this proposed separation between the private/domestic life and the public/political world, and shows that the fantasy of the protagonist——that each is independent of the other— is responsible for the novel’s bleak outcome. Castle—whose name itself suggests a preoccupation with defense, evoking the phrase “an Englishman’s home is his castle”—identifies himself as a man for whom “security” is paramount.22 Though he is professionally involved with national security, through his job with SIS, his priority is security of a different kind: on returning home from work to his wife, Castle contrasts his domestic life with that of his bachelor colleague, Davis, imagining “poor Davis … going home to nothing” (Human, 21) and, in response to Sarah’s suggestion—“perhaps he [Davis] has a lot more fun” than Castle—replies, “This is my fun… . A sense of security” (21). In fact, Castle is anxious to the point of paranoia about the possibility of a hostile invasion of his home: in

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response to Sarah’s worry that a mysterious phone call might be a burglar, Castle reminds her that he has bought her a guard dog, Buller (21). Buller is a significant figure in the domestic drama of Castle’s life. Despite his breed, a boxer, and his name, echoing “bully,” the dog is inadequate to protect the family’s safety: “you know what he’s like with strangers. He fawns on them” (Human, 21). In other words, Buller is the weak link not only in the fortifications that Castle has established for his family, but in the measures he has taken to protect himself. If we read the Castle’s home and its defenses as an analogy for Britain’s national security, this weak link suggests that Castle’s commitment to protecting his country will be found wanting. Despite his precautions, he imagines horrible threats to his family: “he was reassuring himself that what he valued most in life was still safe. By the end of a day he always felt as though he had been gone for years leaving her defenseless” (19). The novel’s emphasis on Castle’s private sense of security seems to bear out Greene’s intention to focus on the everyday life of the secret agent, to which the political concerns and violence of the conventional spy novel are merely a background. Yet it soon becomes apparent that Castle’s “sense of security” is not entirely immune to threats in the public sphere: as he tells Sarah, he is unnerved by a new security man, Daintry, asking questions at the office (Human, 22). Castle’s vulnerability to investigation is a reminder of the atmosphere of paranoia and distrust that gripped the intelligence divisions in the postwar era of Soviet moles. As the novel begins, Daintry is investigating a suspected leak of classified information from Castle’s African section, and conferring with C about the likely suspects. Castle’s junior colleague Davis becomes the main suspect due to his being caught leaving the office with a secret file. Castle’s friendship with Davis—he has invited him home to Berkhamsted, where he played hide-and-seek with the Castles’s son, Sam— makes the suspicions that fall on him a matter of personal concern. Greene’s novel gives not only a chilling portrayal of the lengths to which SIS will go to avoid a scandal, but also a jarring portrait of the overlap between domestic and political worlds. The high-level SIS meeting to decide what action to take about the security leak in Section 6A (Castle and Davis’s section) takes place during a shooting party at the country home of Sir John Hargreaves or “C” when the triumvirate of C, Daintry, and Dr. Percival conclude that they cannot afford another spy scandal.23 As C states, “the knowledge that there was a leak, if it became public, could be more damaging than the leak itself” to which Percival adds his vision of public humiliation: “Questions in Parliament. All the old names thrown up—Vassall, the Portland affair, Philby” (Human, 31). Their discussion reflects the period in which Greene began writing the novel—in the scandalous aftermath of Kim Philby’s defection in 1963. In fact, Greene’s delay in publishing the novel



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was due to Greene’s concern, following Philby’s defection to Moscow, that his protagonist would be taken for the most famous of British traitors: “My double agent Maurice Castle bore no resemblance in character or motive to Philby, none of the characters has the least likeness to anyone I have known, but I disliked the idea of the novel being taken as a roman à clef” (Ways, 228). The reader is privy to the ruthless and cynical logic which leads C to prefer the “elimination” of Davis to a public trial despite its clear violation of democratic principle: “I know that elimination is rather a new thing for us. More in the KGB line or the CIA’s” (Human, 36). Dr. Percival’s role in the novel—the medical man enlisted to ensure a natural-seeming death for Davis—has been noted as the major anomaly in Greene’s renunciation of the typical violence of espionage fiction.24 David Stafford objects, “Dr. Percival, the SIS doctor who poisons the initial suspect in the case, Castle’s colleague Davis, is a fairly melodramatic figure, and the violence of his intervention is quite inconsistent with the aim that Greene set himself” (Stafford, Silent, 193).25 Undoubtedly the murder of Davis by his own organization is the most shocking event in the novel, particularly when it emerges that Davis is innocent. However, the assassination is consistent with the fact that the violence and the betrayals of the novel are represented as domestic, in two senses. Firstly, these betrayals and acts of violence are conceived, planned, and executed in the private homes of the characters involved. Secondly, the most devastating impact of violence and betrayal is represented on the loved ones of the protagonists. Greene himself had recognized this contradiction in Ways of Escape: “I had betrayed my purpose. There was violence—the death of Davis—and Doctor Percival was hardly a typical figure of the British Secret Service. It wasn’t as realistic a picture as I had intended, and the novel was saved only by the human factor of the title” (Ways, 229). In a striking substitution, Greene portrays himself as the traitor suggesting an intriguing identification is between Castle and Greene himself (rather than with Philby).26 Greene’s reference to the human factor, however, perhaps raises more questions than it answers.27 In Ways of Escape, Greene suggests the title refers to the domestic romance between the protagonist and his wife: “As a love-story—a marriedlove story of an elderly man—I think it may have succeeded” (229). Greene then establishes a boundary—a kind of green baize door—between the genre of spy fiction, and the domestic novel focusing on “married love.”28 Yet it is the attempt to establish the boundary or distinction itself that is at once significant for Greene’s narrative “purpose” and yet, ultimately, unsustainable in the novel. The imagined division between the public and private realms may go back to the significance of the “green baize door” at Berkhamsted school, a boundary that separated the civilized world of his family’s living quarters, from

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the savage world of the schoolroom in which Greene was suspected (as the headmaster’s son) of being a double agent, reporting back to his father. In a telling passage from his autobiography, Greene describes the traumatic effect of being separated by this door from the world of his early childhood: “I had left civilization behind and entered a savage country of strange customs and inexplicable cruelties: a country in which I was a foreigner and a suspect, quite literally a hunted creature, known to have dubious associates. Was my father not the headmaster? I was like the son of a quisling in a country under occupation” (Sort of Life, 54–5). Greene here portrays himself as a kind of double agent, straddling the worlds of home and school. Maintaining this boundary—protecting the ideal of the domestic realm—became a matter of personal survival. The “human factor,” in this context, is most compelling not as a shorthand for the love between Maurice and Sarah, but as a reference to the fatal flaw in Castle’s domestic security—the violation of this green baize door separating a secure domesticity from a threatening public sphere— which leads to the collapse of the idealized concept of the private life.29 This collapse of the private sphere is a key aspect of the double agent’s effect in actuality as well as fiction. We recall that the most direct accusation against Philby came in his own home, from his wife: Aileen’s “I know you’re the Third Man.” In Greene’s novel, the domestic sphere proves dangerous if not fatal to several of its inhabitants. Not only is the violence against the suspected source of the “leak” planned in C’s home, but it is executed—literally—in Davis’s flat.30 The function of Davis, aside from providing another suspect to deflect attention from Castle, is to contrast the realism of Maurice’s approach to the profession of espionage with the Bondian romantic fantasy of adventure that led Davies to join SIS in the first place. While living an unfulfilling bachelor existence, Davies dreams about the life of a spy such as 007 and of being posted to some exotic location such as Lourenço Marques (Human, 49). He lusts after a sexually attractive co-worker, Cynthia, lamenting that “James Bond would have had Cynthia a long while ago. On a sandy beach under a hot sun” (47–8). Yet Cynthia does not show any interest in Davis until after he falls terminally ill, visiting his flat with Castle and offering to make his bed (128). It is as though Cynthia switches from Bond girl to heroine of a domestic plot, offering to transform Davis’s sexual fantasy into married love. Davis in fact seems interested in this potential future, expressing envy of Maurice’s lot and (using his affectionate term for Sam) wishing he and Cynthia could have “a little bastard” (129). Maurice offers encouragement to Davis’s domestic fantasy and Davis admits, “Yes, she’d mother me, I daresay” (130). The mother, rather than the girlfriend, is identified as the domestic object of desire. However Davis’s domestic future is fatally cut short by Dr. Percival’s lethal dose. Davis’s death preserves the reader’s sense of his immaturity: a



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child who never grows up, and only joined SIS because of the juvenile spy fantasies that Greene’s novel explicitly rejects (47). Davis’s spy fantasies link him with Sarah’s son Sam, also fascinated with espionage, who asks Castle “there are spies, aren’t there—real spies … spies like 007?” (58–9); to which Castle—immured in the humdrum world of real espionage—avoids giving a direct reply.31 Where Davis dreams of being like 007, Castle admits to Davis “sometimes I dream of security. I don’t mean Daintry’s sort of security. To be retired. With a good pension” (50). Castle’s “dream” seems unromantic, yet his fixation on working for his pension mirrors Greene’s concern with espionage as merely a way to make a living, to support the private life. In the quasi-domestic surroundings of Percival’s club, Percival and C decide that Davis can be killed using a toxic mold, aflatoxin, that grows on peanuts (Human, 84). Davis’s resultant illness is conveniently attributed by Dr. Percival to excessive consumption of alcohol—another of his 007 traits— and ironically, Castle is drinking at the wedding reception of Daintry’s daughter when he receives the news of Davis’s death. Although he knew his section was under suspicion, Castle had no direct knowledge of the elimination plot against Davis, who has been found dead in his flat by his cleaner.32 Davis’s girlie magazine—representing his Bond-like sexual fantasies—alerts the suspicions of the two men from SIS who search the house. Percival explains their presence as “just a security check … to be sure that the poor chap hadn’t left anything lying about” (139). Even in death, absurdly, Davis is still considered a security risk. While Castle is not responsible for the death of Davis, he is centrally involved in undermining the ideal of domesticity—and domestic security—on which he claims to depend. An important association of the term “security” is its continuity into the future: Castle wants a secure future with Sarah, as C wants a secure future career in SIS. In a crucial scene early in the novel, however, Castle exposes radical limitations to his idea of the family as “security.” When Sarah asks if he wishes they’d had a child together, Maurice explains that he loves Sam precisely because “I don’t have to see anything of myself there when I look at him. I see only something of you. I don’t want to go on and on for ever. I want the buck to stop here” (Human, 25). The existence of a double agent has been established early in the novel, but the extent of Castle’s—and the narrative’s—duplicity is not disclosed until it is revealed, almost half way through the novel, that Castle himself is the traitor. Castle’s meeting with his Soviet handler, Boris, occurs in a setting reminiscent of his own home. When Boris greets him by his real name, Castle’s reaction explicitly links the political realm of espionage with his domestic life, as he considers it strange that Boris and Sarah are the only people who call him Maurice (Human, 116). This use of his “private” name by his handler suggests that his personal, emotional bond with Sarah is not, after all, unique,

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but is also reflected in his feeling of being at home in his handler’s meeting place (116).33 Indeed, Maurice’s secrecy in heading for an illicit assignation in a “strange house,” his use of his “private name” in conversation with the person he meets, has the associations of an extra-marital affair. On seeing his handler, Maurice exclaims, “I thought I was never going to see you again” (116), as though to a longed-for lover, suggesting that the domestic meeting with Boris does represent a betrayal of his “Castle.” Greene’s novel dangles the intriguing mystery of the methods by which a double agent communicates with his controller. In doing so, Greene establishes another baize door between disreputable and respectable forms of literature. His contact point is Halliday & Son’s bookshop in Soho, which is described as uncharacteristically respectable for the area (Human, 43). By opposing the “respectable” and the pornographic literary markets, Greene manifests a duality in literary culture: a duality that his own separation of his works into “novels” and “entertainments” also reflects.34 Mr. Halliday regretfully describes the decline of the market for classic literature, noting that his son’s pornographic bookshop is doing better than his (44). The novel thus establishes the different tastes in literature as a generational one: which is also reflected in Davis’s copy of Playboy contrasting with Castle’s more literary tastes, as he requests a copy of War and Peace having been unable to finish Clarissa. For Halliday, “the two businesses remain distinct” (44) and he believes he is safe from police harassment. By contrast his “son” will later be arrested for selling obscene material to a minor, causing Castle profound anxiety. Believing that the disreputable “son”—whom he has never met—is his contact with the Soviets, Castle imagines him making a deal with the police that would incriminate Castle (197). For Castle, the revelation that Halliday has been his Soviet contact all along is evidence of how little the Soviets actually trusted him (216). The disclosure also confounds the distinction between the reputable and the scandalous: it is the literary shopkeeper, not his sleazy offspring, who spies for the Communists. Critical discourse on The Human Factor tends to reinforce the green baize door separating the private/authentic world of Castle’s domestic life, and the public/artificial world of politics and the Secret Service. David Stafford, for example, claims, “Maurice Castle … is motivated not by ideology but by love” (Silent, 192) and that his love for Sarah is the reason he is willing to spy for the Soviet Union (192). In a similar vein, William M. Chace argues “What drives Castle on, and what preserves him from being frozen into permanent cynicism, is the love he has for his wife Sarah and for her child, Sam. With her, he can relax from the rigid artificialities imposed on him by his profession and by his elaborate betrayal of it. With her, he can be simply enough, ‘Maurice’” (172). Yet Chace neglects to note that not only does his Soviet handler also calls him “Maurice” but also the handler’s name, Boris,



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rhymes with his own. Rather than being a uniquely domestic moniker, then, “Maurice” actually connects his private relationships with espionage. My argument that Castle’s betrayal of the Secret Service can only be represented as a betrayal of his domestic world would seem to be contradicted by Sarah’s response to Castle’s eventual confession: “who cares? ... We have our own country. You and I and Sam. You’ve never betrayed that country, Maurice” (Human, 211). Sarah’s claim that they live in their own country, upholds an idealistic opposition between the political realm of “England” and the private realm of the “Castles.” She doesn’t care about betrayal in the public sense, but only in the private sense: and of this betrayal she finds him innocent. This seems to bear out Greene’s statement in an interview about the title of his novel: “The human factor is in this case the effect of family life on a man working day by day in the Secret Service, which draws him in a completely different direction from what the authorities would like. I mean love for his wife, love for his adopted child. I mean a greater loyalty than the loyalty of country, as it were” (Masters, Literary Agents, 131). Yet can Castle be found innocent of betrayal in this private sense? Believing his role as double agent to have been discovered by the British authorities, he panics and takes flight to Moscow rather than risk capture and imprisonment. This results in splitting apart the family, as he learns from Boris of the “difficulties” of their joining him due to Sam’s lack of a passport. Sarah could have joined him in Moscow, but couldn’t take Sam with her, and her greater loyalty is to Sam. The destruction of the Castle’s family life, which springs from Castle’s betrayal, is symbolically illustrated by his shooting of Buller, the family dog, before leaving the country. Buller’s symbolism is manifold: a guard dog, he instead fawns on every visitor, perhaps suggesting that Castle is also “quite harmless” (Human, 216). When Castle says “he’s a friend of all the world” (216), the phrase is an apparent allusion to Kipling’s Kim, the boy spy whose “Nickname through the wards was ‘Little Friend of all the World’” (Kim, 51). If Buller is a substitute child, representing the offspring that Castle refuses to produce, his death suggests a loss of innocence, as well as the destruction of the myth of romantic espionage embodied in Kim. Breaking free from the “conventional violence” of spy fiction, The Human Factor represents this final act of domestic violence: not, against an enemy agent, or a human member of his family, but against the fantasy of domestic happiness itself. Perhaps fittingly, Greene sent a copy of The Human Factor “to Moscow, to my friend Kim Philby” (Ways, 229). Philby’s reaction focused, selfcenteredly, on the inaccuracies of the defector’s domestic situation: “I had made Castle’s circumstances in Moscow, he wrote, too bleak. He himself had found everything provided for him” (Ways, 229).35 Yet these details, as Greene pointed out, were based on the memoir written by Philby’s own wife,

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Eleanor, which she published under the title The Spy I Loved (Ways, 230). The double agent’s blindness to the domestic consequences of betrayal on others—the human cost of treason—is an illuminating epilogue to the novel. One of the paradoxes of Castle’s attempt to rigidly separate his professional life from his domestic world, is that his relationship with Sarah was forged while on assignment in South Africa. Sarah, in fact, was an agent whom Castle saved from capture by Muller, the chief of BOSS. Otto Preminger’s film version of The Human Factor (1980) uses flashbacks to represent Castle’s African past and to dramatize his early relationship with Sarah. As such, the film makes the forging of their love affair in an atmosphere of intense racial and political conflict unrest in South Africa, all the more powerful. We understand the bond between them, and why it is so destructive to Castle to have to abandon her when he defects to Moscow. Implicitly, then, Preminger’s film challenges Castle’s attempt to deny the link between politics and domesticity. Yet Preminger’s film makes some minor but significant changes, especially in the actions of female characters, which alter the novel’s portrayal of domesticity. In Greene’s novel, when Sarah leaves the Castles’ Berkhamsted home when Maurice decides to flee, she cannot take Buller with her because Castle’s mother, with whom she will stay, has a cat and “Buller kills cats at sight” (Human, 217). As he prepares to defect, Castle realizes that the question of what to do with Buller “was the one problem he had never worked out” (198). However its importance is suggested by the amount of discourse devoted to Buller’s fate and Sarah’s evident concern for the dog (Human, 199). In the film, Castle (Nicol Williamson) tells Sarah (Iman) that she must take Buller (Rebel) with her, but she forgets to do so, leaving Castle alone with the dilemma of what to do with the dog. This makes Sarah implicitly responsible for the death of Buller and by association for the destruction of the domestic world he represents. Where the novel describes, if somewhat elliptically, the scene of Castle’s killing Buller (Greene, Human, 218–19), the film skips over the scene, only later reporting that Castle had “made a mess of it.” A second change made in the film is to the character of Cynthia, Davis’s love interest. While initially frosty in Greene’s novel, she is gradually won around and visits the ailing Davis’s flat with Castle. Though Castle views her as somewhat harsh (127), she insists on making Davis’s bed while the two men talk, which leads Castle to suggest that she may be coming around to Davis’s desires. When she tells Castle the news of Davis’s death, and she tells him she wishes she’d been kinder to him (137). In Preminger’s film, Castle invites Cynthia (Cyd Hayman) to visit Davis (Derek Jacobi), but she rejects the offer on the grounds that she’s too busy. The film thus implicates both women—Sarah and Cynthia—in the destruction of the domestic fantasies of the male characters.



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The film uses a striking image of failed communication—a telephone receiver hanging from a wire—in the title credits, but the significance of this image is not revealed until the final scene of the film.36 Clearly, however, the visual image reflects the novel’s preoccupation with miscommunication and failures of understanding. Eventually when Castle believes the Soviets have abandoned him, the narrative again uses the phone image: “He must assume Boris had gone, and that the line was cut” (Human, 197). The film thus finds visual equivalents for the novel’s emphasis on disrupted communications in the spy world, as well as severed connections between husband and wife. This theme—the failure of communication and estrangement between husband and wife—that we see in Greene’s novel, forms the central concern of one of the most extended treatments of the double agent in spy fiction, Len Deighton’s Bernard Samson series. Deighton’s career as a spy novelist began, like le Carré’s, in the aftermath of the spy scandals of the 1950s, and Deighton was no less influenced by the pervasive distrust of the elite establishment that resulted. Deighton has been, with le Carré, the most influential figure in the development of the post-Fleming spy novel. Yet Deighton’s critical outlook is more influenced than le Carré’s by issues of class, and the resentment that Britain’s elitist system can generate. As we have seen The Ipcress File, featuring the anonymous working-class spy who was first named Harry Palmer in the 1965 film version, led its protagonist into conflict with the treacherous double-agency of his superior Dalby, and concluded with the killing of the traitor. The Ipcress File is a key example of how the spy plot, in the Philby era, is dominated by the double agent, shifting the focus from espionage to counterespionage. With the prominence given to the mole-hunt, the spy novel acknowledges that the most damaging enemy is within British official structures. As Denning argues, “the real enemy is the organization itself, the organization that never keeps faith, the organization that betrays its own men” (Cover, 140). The Ipcress File’s plot involves the kidnapping and brainwashing of leading Western scientists but this is ultimately superseded by the search for a traitor within British intelligence. As in Fleming, Britain’s “special relationship” with the US is at stake in trying to get its house in order. Palmer, having foiled a plot to sabotage a US nuclear detonation and leak details of the bomb to the Soviets, is then held captive and tortured in what appears to be a foreign prison (in Hungary), an incarceration orchestrated by Jay himself. Yet on escaping from his captors, the narrator discovers that he had been held captive in Wood Green, in North London. Palmer’s very location—within London itself—represents the presence of the enemy within. Having first suspected his former chief, the autocratic Colonel Ross, of treason, Palmer eventually penetrates the secret that the plan to sabotage the neutron bomb and betray classified information was actually arranged by

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Major Dalby, who is a Soviet double agent. Thus the novel highlights the theme of betrayal—of both country and profession—by highly placed agents, a theme that would play a central role in Deighton’s later spy fiction.37 The combination of the Profumo affair of 1963—in which the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, lied in the House of Commons about his relationship with a prostitute, Christine Keeler, who was also the lover of a Russian spy—and the Cambridge spies had delivered the message that the traditional British ruling class could no longer be trusted. One of the assumptions of the Anglo-American intelligence alliance during the Cold War was that the enemy—the Soviet Union, and its satellites—was a clearly identifiable, locatable enemy based in Moscow but with influence extending to all parts of the Eastern Bloc. The Western alliance assumed it had clearly defined targets for the purposes of espionage and, if it came to this, military and nuclear attack. This assumption is apparent in the three trilogies Deighton wrote with Bernard Samson as protagonist. In the final trilogy, Dicky Cruyer—Bernard Samson’s boss in the series of novels stretching from Berlin Game to Charity—emphasizes this point to his American colleague Bret Rensselaer, in order to justify a wire-tapping operation in East Germany: the Soviets have their greatest concentration of missiles, long-range bombers, submarines and tanks—all of them armed with nuclear missiles, shells, rockets and bombs—in East Germany. Not in Soviet Russia or Hungary or any of these places where you say communism is on the verge of being defeated… . And your home town, wherever you say it is, Bret, is targeted by those jokers. (Faith, 280)

Yet even by the 1980s, when the Samson novels begin to appear, Dicky’s view of the Cold War is growing outmoded, as the greater threat may be Soviet or Eastern Bloc infiltrators within SIS itself. Indeed, with a strong focus on the corrupted office politics of London Central, Deighton shows that Dicky’s own incompetence and indiscretion are more serious liabilities than the foreign enemy. Dicky’s emphasis on the immediate threat of attack and invasion is self-serving, to foster the flow of resources to the Secret Service and secure his own position as head of Operations. This portrayal of the institutional need for a clearly defined enemy, in order to protect established interests, reflects the actual political situation of the Cold War. In The Secret State, intelligence historian Peter Hennessy argues that Britain’s governments highlighted (if not exaggerated) the nuclear threat of the Soviet bloc in order to justify the vast cost of an independent nuclear deterrent. Britain had clearly defined targets for nuclear missiles, if retaliation were called for. Hence the British V-force—the fleets of bombers that remained the carriers of Britain’s nuclear missiles until replaced by Polaris submarines at the end of the 1960s—would target Soviet military facilities



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at Murmansk and Archangel (Secret State, 336, 340–1).38 Yet, as Hennessy also points out, the notion of a “center” against which to launch an attack was highly problematic: as “the short term preoccupation of the USSR will be to surround itself with ‘a “belt” of satellite states with governments subservient to their policy,’ behind which Russia would rebuild ‘her military and industrial strength to make up fully for her war losses and relative backwardness in the latest technical developments’” (Secret State, 19). Deighton goes further than Greene or le Carré in linking domestic crisis with political impasse, creating another decisive shift of mood and style with his protagonist, Bernard Samson, who discovers that his own wife, Fiona, is a double agent for East Germany. As the story unfolds over three trilogies published between 1983 and 1996: Game, Set, and Match; Spy Hook, Spy Line, and Spy Sinker; and Faith, Hope, and Charity—Samson alternates between conviction that his wife has betrayed both him and London Central, and doubt that she might in fact have been planted by London as a “triple” agent to deceive the East German Abteilung. Establishing Samson as the postwar fictional spy with the most longevity after James Bond and George Smiley, the saga begins with Samson’s suspicion in Berlin Game that a mole has been planted in London Central. Berlin Game begins as one of London’s leading foreign agents operating behind the Iron Curtain—known as Brahms Four—is demanding a safe passage to the West, due to increasing evidence of highly placed intelligence leaks in London. The only person Brahms Four trusts to arrange his defection from Berlin is his old friend and comrade Bernard Samson, who is sent back into the field to Berlin from his secure desk job in London. At first glance, Samson’s role is comparable to that of George Smiley, in that he takes responsibility for investigating a suspected betrayal at the highest level of British intelligence. Yet in the course of the three trilogies, it becomes increasingly clear that Samson’s role is not that of a mole-hunter. He is, first and foremost, an observer—and sometimes victim—of the intricate and treacherous bureaucratic politics of London Central. Unlike Smiley, Samson is not brought out of retirement and he has no official brief to uncover the mole. He also lacks Smiley’s confidence in being the social equals of his fellow agents. An ongoing theme of the series is Samson’s “outsider” status: he lacks the English public school and university education of his colleagues, having been raised in Berlin. Samson’s father, who had been Berlin Resident for London Central, believed that his Berlin education and fluent German would be an asset to his son, and didn’t want him becoming part of the old boy network (Hope). Yet Samson comes to realize that this outsider status and immersion in Germany, actually harms his chances of promotion. When the German desk becomes available, it is the arrogant Oxford educated wunderkind, Dicky Cruyer, who receives the coveted position ahead of Samson (who is clearly the most qualified candidate).

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Consequently, Samson himself falls under suspicion of treachery. In assessing Samson’s role, we have to factor in the first-person narration, and that the entire saga—with the exception of Winter and Spy Sinker (the latter narrated in the third person from Fiona’s perspective)—is told from Bernard’s point of view. This creates a deeper sympathy with the protagonist and his travails, but also raises the issue of Samson’s reliability as a narrator. Samson wears his prejudices and grudges on his sleeve, and his entire narrative is permeated by his dislike and distrust of the upper-middle-class Englishmen who dominate the Secret Service—personified by his immediate boss, Cruyer. Samson also suspects Bret Rensselaer, the American agent for London Central who runs Brahms Four and his associated network of having an affair with his wife Fiona, who also has a prominent position as an agent in London Central. There are parallels with Smiley’s relationship with Ann, in that Fiona is herself a member of the upper-class English elite, which places her, in Samson’s view, on the “other side.” Samson’s discovery, in Berlin Game, that the Soviet double agent is in fact his own wife is not only personally devastating, but casts Samson himself under much suspicion of treason from London Central, a plot that unfolds in the following novels. The discovery of Fiona’s betrayal seems to confirm his distrust of the class to which she belongs. Much of the action of the other two novels in this first trilogy focuses on Samson’s attempt to clear himself and find out the truth about his wife’s defection. In Mexico Set he attempts to recruit (or enroll) a KGB agent, Erich Stinnes—his wife Fiona’s aide in Berlin—and exploit his knowledge of Soviet spy networks. London Match begins as, following the successful enrollment of Stinnes, Samson attempts to use his knowledge to penetrate and destroy a KGB network in a military research laboratory in Cambridge. The failure of the attempts by the Secret Service to stakeout this network lead to further suspicions of treachery in London Central, and Samson—following the defection of his wife—is among the chief suspects. He, like his biblical namesake, has been irreparably damaged by the betrayals of the woman closest to him. There are many more twists in the plot, as it is eventually revealed—in the second trilogy—that Fiona Samson had been a British mole in the East German secret service, her apparent defection to the Stasi being used as a cover (making her technically a triple agent). The fact that Bernard did not know of the plot to install his wife as a mole—it having been kept from him by both his employer and Fiona—is a double blow to his professional selfesteem and his masculine pride. From a British intelligence point of view, the “defection” of Fiona is a brilliant coup, placing one of its agents in the highest position of the enemy’s secret service. At a personal level, however, Fiona’s actions strike Bernard as a betrayal, and will place increasing strains on their marriage, following her return to London. Even at her debriefing in



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California, Samson is a witness to—yet excluded from—the traumas suffered by the double agent: “Sometimes I went in and listened, but after a few days Fiona asked me to stay away. My presence made her too selfconscious, she said. I was hurt and offended at the time, but one-to-one was the usual form for such debriefings” (Spy Line, 280). When Samson attempts to speak to Fiona about her experiences, “She answered normally at first but then she grunted shorter replies and I could see she was getting very upset. She didn’t weep or anything as traumatic as that. Perhaps it would have been better for all concerned if she’d done so: it might have helped her” (Spy Line, 280). The Samson series is as significant as a portrait of a marriage as it is a fictional treatment of the British Secret service, and focuses on the parallels between treachery within the highest ranks of the British Secret Service, and personal betrayals within an intimate relationship. More broadly, Deighton uses the wintry marriage of the Samsons, plagued by misunderstandings and locked in stalemate, as a sustained allegory for the Cold War itself. Where le Carré’s Smiley is haunted by the sexual betrayal of his wife and its possible connection to the mole Gerald, Deighton’s Samson suffers the even greater trauma of believing that his own wife is a Soviet mole. Deighton, like le Carré, exploits a powerful connection between sexuality and betrayal in the world of espionage, but raises the stakes. The novels pay more attention to the inner workings of the British Secret Service—the turf wars, grudges and disputes, and jockeying for position—than to the actual work of espionage. Stafford argues that Deighton had expressed the view that “‘moles’ were of little significance in the Cold War,” and yet eventually “yielded to fashion” (Silent, 226) in writing a series of novels on this very theme. This is to miss the point that the pursuit of the mole within London Central becomes the ideal metaphor with which to express the distrustful and shadowy world of cloak-and-dagger operatives. Deighton’s protagonist is not a glamorous superspy, like James Bond, but a working-class antihero who has worked his way to the top. Samson also nurses resentments that he has been bypassed for key promotions in favor of less talented but better-connected colleagues, such as Cruyer and Rennselaer. As has been noted, as the series progresses “a cloud of suspicion still hangs over Samson. Old friends shun him and he’s reduced to undertaking small courier jobs to the USA, away from the Berlin he loves” (“Deighton Dossier,” Spy Hook). His humble origin means that he is always under scrutiny: as his old Berlin friend Werner reminds him about his employers, “‘if you’re here, they’ll spy on you’” (Spy Line, 53). Following Fiona’s return to the fold of London Central, and their extensive debriefing by Rensselaer in California, it seems that order has been restored to Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. The faked defection has been a triumph, opening doors into the KGB’s and Stasi’s codes, ciphers, and spy

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networks. However, there remain many unanswered questions about Fiona’s defection and her dramatic return to the West, a key episode which occurs in Spy Sinker. In the trauma of Fiona’s apparent defection, Bernard has begun a relationship with a much younger woman and fellow-employee, Gloria Kent, who becomes a surrogate mother to his children. Suggesting that even a worldly agent such as Samson is not immune to the Bondian sexual fantasies of the young attractive blonde, the affair only reinforces the inseparability of espionage and sexuality. The death of Fiona’s sister, Tessa Kosinski—killed on the autobahn on the night of Fiona’s return from the East—and its complex aftermath forms the focus of the final trilogy, Faith, Hope, and Charity. In Hope, the second novel, George Kosinski himself appears to have died, which would allow London Central to conveniently dismiss the whole tragic episode. However, Bernard’s investigations in Poland lead him to believe that George is alive, and that Tessa may also have survived the shooting. The murkiness of the episodes surrounding Fiona’s defection and return, reflect the atmosphere of mistrust and paranoia during the Cold War, as well as Bernard’s limited access to the truth behind the conspiracy. Bernard’s nocturnal meeting with Rupert Copper, an SIS agent based in Warsaw, calls into question the official narrative of Fiona’s defection and return, preparing the reader for further disturbing revelations. Copper alludes to: Rumours about you … Rumours about your wife. They are still asking if that business really was … what it was later described to be. Or whether she really defected with a lot of choice material, and then was lured back … I hear more rumors about that girl you lived with, the one that Rensselaer now seems to have some claim upon. That was a somewhat sudden elevation to the top floor, wasn’t it? There are endless rumors about who killed your sister-in-law, and why. And now a new one going the rounds in the last few days says that she was never really dead. (Hope, 253–4)

Copper’s litany of “rumours” reflects the gossipy and backstabbing world of the SIS, to which Samson has become accustomed. Yet it also reveals the narrative implications of the double-agent plot. Once a central character has been exposed as a double agent working for the enemy, it is very difficult to put the lid on further speculation and suspicions about the integrity of the organization. As with the Cambridge spies, the original defection—of Burgess and Maclean, of Fiona—generates an unstoppable chain of events and narrative consequences. In the powerful denouement of Hope—in which Bernard finds that George Kosinksi is in fact alive in Poland, and uses an experienced “Black sky” pilot, known as the Swede, to get him back to London—the conflict between Bernard’s personal loyalty and his patriotism is put to the test. In the chaos



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of their departure, George confesses that he has been spying for the Polish Secret Service for years, and Samson denounces him as a traitor. In this novel, Deighton peels away another layer of affected innocence and victimhood, in revealing George Kosinski—the apparently abused, cuckolded, and devastated husband—as a spy. While he was not himself part of London Central, George has had privileged access to its secrets due to his family relationship with Bernard and Fiona. Indeed, Bernard now realizes that that flat generously given to him and Fiona by George may have been bugged. With each installment of the series, new secrets and layers of betrayal are revealed, often catching the protagonist—and the reader—off guard. Having “re-defected,” and returned to London, Fiona rapidly ascends the hierarchy of London, but the doubts about her loyalties—as well as Samson’s—continue to circulate. Copper goes on to warn Samson that, if she has in fact betrayed the KGB, they are likely to take revenge: Fiona and her family are all at risk. Deighton’s novels eschew closure in favor of an ongoing guessing game about the true motives and loyalties of the double agent. The case of Fiona Samson is the most multi-layered of fictional treatments of espionage duplicity. She is a British agent who defects to East Germany, and doubts about her true allegiances continue to haunt her colleagues and her husband after her return to London. Yet as Bernard himself realizes, the secrecy that serves as her greatest asset as an agent, becomes a terrible liability as a wife: Many people would have liked to know what went on inside Fiona’s head, including me. From what I knew, even the KGB agent—Kennedy—who had been assigned to seduce her, and monitor her thoughts, had failed… . She’d fooled him of course. She hadn’t betrayed her role as a double-agent working for London because Fiona was Fiona—a woman who would no more reveal her innermost thoughts to her lover than she would to her father, her children or her husband. (Charity, 48)

The impossibility of knowing what is inside the traitor’s head—what makes him or her tick—is arguably at the heart of the longstanding literary and cultural fascination with the double agent or mole. This fascination reached its height during the Cold War, with le Carré, Greene, and Deighton as the chief masters of duplicity, treason, and espionage. But the double agent has played a role of some kind in spy fiction since its appearance as a distinct genre. One might have expected the popular appeal of narratives about double agents to decline following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. The stakes involved in creating and running double agents have presumably lessened with the loss of the Iron Curtain between East and West, and the collapse of the Soviet Union as a Communist bloc. Yet there is

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evidence to suggest that the double remains a compelling topic and figure in popular literature and film. Frederick Forsyth’s The Fist of God (1994) and The Afghan (2006) both feature a British SAS agent, Mike Martin, who is able to pass as an Arab and thereby infiltrate enemy Islamic terrorist networks. In The Fist of God, he becomes the handler for a still more important double agent, code-named Jericho, who provides essential intelligence to the Western powers about Iraq’s nuclear weapons following the invasion of Kuwait. In The Afghan, Martin penetrates al-Qaeda itself in an effort to thwart the terrorist organizations campaigns against Britain and America. Martin’s Kim-like ability to pass as an Arab among Arabs—despite being a Westerner (a Sahib, in Kipling’s terms) makes him an invaluable resource for British intelligence. Forsyth’s plot involves an operation to pass Martin off as Izmat Khan, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay who had been a senior member of the Taliban. The challenge—to create a double agent who can successfully deceive the enemy by impersonating a highly ranked member of its inner circle—creates a suspenseful narrative in the post-Cold War setting.39 The longevity of the fascination of the Cambridge spies is also evidenced in recent novels such as Charles Cumming’s The Trinity Six and Daniel Silva’s The English Girl. Cumming’s novel follows an academic, Sam Gaddis, who investigates a lead that there is a “sixth man” still alive and present within British society. Silva’s novel, though not dealing directly with the Cambridge spies, continues the fascination with duplicity and betrayal at the highest levels of British political life. The appeal of these novels may indicate the extent to which the British spy scandal represented the end of an era of public faith in those at the top of the British class system to run the country effectively and with integrity. The double agent has been one of the most enduring elements of the spy novel and film. From the dark suggestions of Dollmann’s duplicity in Riddle of the Sands, through the Anglo-German paranoia of Oppenheim’s The Great Impersonation, to the later labyrinthine narratives of le Carré and Deighton, and the post-9/11 novels of Forsyth, the mole has fascinated readers and viewers for well over a century. A large part of this enduring obsession must be credited to the enticing narrative possibilities of the double agent, the opportunities it offers to the novelist and director for suspense, deception, and dramatic denouement. But the fascination has been fuelled by the political events of the postwar world, in a compelling symbiosis of fact and fiction that has characterized the spy novel since its inception. Over half a century after the Burgess, Philby and Maclean defections rocked the British intelligence establishment, the mind-bending deceptions and multi-layered plots of the double agent narrative continue to hold readers and audiences in their iron grip.



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NOTES 1. There is a paradox inherent in the use of the term “double” in an espionage context, in that its conventional meaning of “twice as much” is undermined by the diminishing function of duplicity and deception (i.e., less). Thus the double agent is “less” than an agent working exclusively for one’s own organization. 2. See Andrew, Defence of the Realm, 69–70. 3. Of course during World War II the Soviet Union was an ally of Britain and the US; however the exposure of the Cambridge spy ring occurred during the Cold War when the Soviets were perceived as the greatest threat to NATO’s security. This change of attitude towards the Soviet Union accounts for the prolonged public scandal surrounding Burgess, Maclean, and Philby. For a discussion of how the Soviet Union’s aggressive expansionist policy in the postwar period, combined with continuing British distrust of Communism, led to “a kind of renewed ‘Great Game’ between Britain … and Russia,” see Jeffery, Secret History, 654–7. 4. For a detailed account of this process see Macintyre, A Spy Among Friends, especially Chapter 10. 5. Publicly cleared by Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan in 1955, Philby continued to leak intelligence secrets of the NATO powers—primarily Britain and the US—until his own defection to the Soviet Union in 1963, having fled from Beirut where he had been working as a journalist. 6. This role of memorizing military secrets would be replaced in Hitchcock’s film version, The Thirty-Nine Steps, by Mr. Memory, who commits the technical plans for a new rocket to his capacious brain. By using this device, Hitchcock eliminates the idea of a foreign spy impersonating a member of the government. He also introduces the leitmotif of Mr. Memory’s theme tune, which consistently links Hannay and Mr. Memory. 7. The setting in Africa is significant, because the competition for African territory and resources—known as the “Scramble for Africa”—was the battlefield on which this imperial struggle was played out. See Scully, British Images of Germany, 21–24. 8. Robert’s comments anticipate Sarah’s to Maurice Castle in Greene’s The Human Factor: “We have our own country. You and I and Sam” (211). Both cases can be interpreted as a disavowal of the connections between public and private spheres. 9. According to Jeremy Lewis, Greene got the idea about Harry Lime’s corrupted penicillin racket from Peter Smollet, né Hans Peter Smolka, who was the Times’s correspondent in Vienna when Greene was there researching The Third Man. Lewis suggests that “Smollet himself may have been a Soviet agent” (453) and that he knew Kim Philby. See Shades of Greene, 453–4. 10. The scene from the film gives the third man the face that he was lacking in Greene’s text. Yet the film’s presentation of an instantaneous revelation, and a clear demarcation of the “before” and “after” of Martins’s discovery, implies a sharp distinction between black and white, light and shadow. However, Martin’s favorite author is “Grey”—and while his audience at the literary society debate whether this is a reference to the eighteenth-century poet rather than Zane Grey who wrote “what we call Westerns—cheap popular novelettes” (93)—the reader will note the preference

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for ambiguity in Martins’s answer. The film visually represents the dramatic switch from darkness to light, from secrecy to disclosure, from ignorance to knowledge as absolute. It is comforting perhaps to think that the double agent could be thus exposed in such a definitive fashion, but the novella does not allow such a clear disclosure. 11. Greene suggests as a subtitle to Philby’s memoir, “The Spy as Craftsman,” (Preface to My Silent War, 2), invoking further parallels between the arts of the novelist and the spy or, as John Sutherland puts it, “the mutual obsessions of fiction and espionage in the twentieth century” (Stanford Companion 598). For a detailed study of several spy-turned-novelists, see Masters, Literary Agents. 12. As Calloway narrates, “the Russians had information that Anna Schmidt was one of their nationals living with false papers… . The Russian was just doing his duty and watched the girl all the time, without a flicker of sexual interest” (Third Man 1201). By contrast, Martins has “sexual interest” in Anna but is powerless to protect her without Calloway’s help. 13. In a famous letter to The Times, Greene declared “If I had to choose between life in the Soviet Union and life in the United States, I would certainly choose the Soviet Union” (Shades of Greene 456). This, clearly, was a preference he shared with Philby, who had left his post in Washington following the defections of Burgess and Maclean, and ended up joining them in Moscow. 14. I am struck by the utility of Miller’s argument for discussing the complex patterns of knowledge, ignorance, secrecy, and disavowal in spy fiction. Although Miller writes about Victorian “sensation” fiction, many of his points about the function of the “open secret” are illuminating for considering one of the modern descendants of that form. As Allan Hepburn notes, “Thrills in espionage narratives can trace an ancestry in nineteenth-century detective and sensation fiction” (Intrigue 25). 15. In support of this perhaps contentious claim, I would note that after all, Bond is again the victim of a “honey trap” using a female agent in From Russia with Love. However, Tatiana Romanova’s case is different: she is a Soviet agent who pretends to be obsessed with Bond and to help him, but ends up “really” falling in love with him and being converted to the “right” side. This is far less disturbing than the discovery of the enemy in a fellow agent who is also a lover. 16. David Stafford has asked the question why Fleming did not give fuller treatment to the Soviet penetration of the British Secret Service (Silent Game 176). His answer is that the issue of the Soviet double agent did not reach public importance until the end of Fleming’s life. However, the defections of Burgess and Maclean occurred before Fleming wrote his first novel, Casino Royale. A more plausible explanation is that from a narrative standpoint, the surprise factor would no longer be present in such a plot device after being used in Casino Royale. 17. “Black Velvet” is also a cocktail that combines stout with champagne. Mixed cocktails are one of the clues to Vesper’s divided loyalties: Bond names a cocktail after her, the Vesper, which contains both Russian (vodka) and English (gin) spirits. 18. “Ian Fleming’s Red Indians” is the subtitle of Craig Cabell’s The History of 30 Assault Unit (Barnsley, UK: Pen and Sword 2009). 19. In addition to the three Samson trilogies, Deighton also wrote Winter: The Tragic Story of a Berlin Family 1899–1945, which provided historical background



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on the central characters of his trilogies. The third trilogy was written after the Berlin Wall had come down and the Cold War ended, but is set during the height of the Cold War. 20. In the TV movie Philby, Burgess and Maclean, a Soviet defector’s report that there is a leak in British intelligence and that the mole graduated from “Eton and Oxford,” does not narrow the list of suspects down substantially. 21. The narrative has disclosed this betrayal in stages: for example, a key report from the Soviet Union revealing Kremlin strategies that would avoid provoking the US into retaliating against them was traced back to Haydon (144). 22. We recall that the Castle is a landmark in the town of Berkhamsted, where the protagonist resides. Berkhamsted was also Greene’s birthplace and childhood home. See Shades of Greene. 23. Greene recalls this episode as one of the few that he liked after writing the first section of the novel: “there were some good things in the twenty thousand words which I had written—I liked especially the shooting party at C’s country house” (Ways 229) 24. Greene writes of his uncle Graham, who sat on the Committee of Imperial Defence, “Only recently in a volume of the Dictionary of National Biography did I learn of his connection with the world of James Bond—he was one of the founders of Naval Intelligence” (Sort of Life, 18). 25. John Atkins notes, in a similar vein, “In fact Davis is murdered on mere assumption—and he is the wrong man” (British Spy 198) and yet “Percival has no remorse” (198). 26. One should note, though, the ambiguity of the phrase: it is unclear whether Greene betrayed his purpose in the sense of failing to accomplish his intention, or in the sense of unintentionally revealing that intention. 27. Greene notes that, when he abandoned the original draft, it lacked a title (Ways 229). 28. The allusion is to the green baize door that separated the Greene’s living quarters at Berkamstead school, from the (for Greene) depraved and nightmarish world of the school itself. See A Sort of Life. Greene’s background, in which the domestic world of the family abutted the “savage country” in which Greene was a “quisling,” remains an important context for this argument. 29. We should not overlook the fact that Castle will, moreover, allow his mortal enemy to enter his domestic world. Castle’s home is invaded by Cornelius Muller, the South African intelligence (BOSS) chief who had pursued and almost captured Sarah when she was a Communist agent in South Africa. Sarah senses the danger of the public (political, dangerous) world invading the domestic sphere, which Castle is powerless to defend. 30. The removal of classified material from the SIS premises—a breach of security—is the first red flag against Davis. Daintry explains to Castle that there is “nothing personal” (Human, 13) in his investigation. This remark seems to confirm the opposition between the “personal” sense of security, and the public realm with which Daintry is concerned. Davis’s flat completes the quartet of domestic settings in the novel: adding to Maurice’s home in Berkhamstead, Sir John Hargreaves country

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home, the house where Maurice meets Boris. Where Maurice imagines his home as a “castle,” needing defending from possible invaders and burglars (hence his acquisition of Buller), Hargreaves’s home is the location where lethal violence—the “elimination” of the leak—is planned amidst domestic trappings of steak and kidney, port, and cigars. The “strange house” where he meets with Boris is where Maurice’s duplicity is first revealed to the reader, and the only place where he can “speak without prudence to someone who … understood him” (119). 31. In contrast to Davis’s—and presumably the reader’s—fantasy about espionage, Castle denies that life in the Secret Service resembles the adventures of Bond (47). 32. As Armstrong states about the intrusion of violence into the domestic order: “the violence itself seems to have an external cause. In one form or another, history has inured upon the household and disrupted its traditional order” (Desire, 177). Davis’s death is a stark reminder that the notional sanctity of the home as a refuge—a “castle”—protecting its inhabitants from the “dangerous” world outside is no more than a comforting fiction. 33. The apparent oxymoron of being “at home” in a strange house, draws attention to the fact that Maurice’s duplicity extends to his domestic existence: by doubling his domestic life and personal relationship, he invalidates them. 34. Inevitably, Greene’s use of a shady bookshop as a kind of cover for espionage may be taken as an allusion to Conrad’s The Secret Agent, in which the window of Verloc’s bookstore “contained photographs of more or less undressed dancing girls; nondescript packages in wrappers like patent medicines” (3). The Verlocs’ shop— which like Halliday’s is only “his ostensible business” (3)—also displays “a few books, with titles hinting at impropriety” (3). 35. Philby’s criticism, when Greene sent him the published novel in Moscow, that he had made Castle’s Moscow living arrangements too bleak (in Ways of Escape), surely misses the point. The ‘bleakness’ of Castle’s situation has nothing to do with the material conditions or surroundings, but with Castle’s solitude, his separation from Sarah. Masters notes that the “domestic life of his central character Castle … was a vital aspect of The Human Factor” (133) and attributes that fact to Greene’s visit to Philby’s house after the latter’s departure for Beirut, whence he defected to Moscow. 36. In addition to its use in the title and closing credits, the image of the dangling telephone receiver was also used for the film’s publicity poster. 37. In the course of this novel, Harry Palmer acquires an assistant, Jean, who becomes his love interest and “Dr Watson role” (The Len Deighton Companion, 285). Jean plays a pivotal role in the uncovering of Dalby’s treachery. 38. In the case of the Murmansk Vulcan planes, “the escape manoeuvre required a very tight turn at very low altitude … trying to get back to what was left of the UK if the target was in western Russia” (Hennessy, 341). 39. This type of plot has been the basis of several post-Cold War films, such as The Assignment (1997), directed by Christian Duguay, in which a US Naval officer named Ramirez (played by Aidan Quinn) is the dead ringer of international terrorist Carlos Sanchez. Ramirez, having been mistakenly arrested by Israel’s Secret Service, Mossad, is then recruited and trained by an Israeli agent, Amos (played by Ben



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Kingsley), and a CIA agent, Henry Fields (Donald Sutherland). Ramirez’s assignment is to impersonate Carlos and “become” the Jackal, in order to bring about the terrorist’s demise. Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s 2008 film Traitor, involves an FBI agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) who is recruited to pursue a former Special Ops soldier, Samir Horn (Don Cheadle) in the belief he has betrayed his country and joined the Al Nathir terrorist group. He discovers that Horn is, rather, working undercover in this organization. Such films testify to the enduring interest in the stresses, motives, dangers, and goals of the double agent in the war against terrorism.

Chapter 7

The Spy Villain

At first glance, there might seem to be a significant degree of overlap between the double agent, discussed in the previous chapter, and the villain of a spy novel or film. As I argued, the double agent was the ideal catalyst for the nefarious plots and counterplots against which the spy protagonist—whether James Bond, Bernard Samson, or George Smiley—is pitted. The exposure of actual, notoriously successful double agents during the Cold War—most notably the Cambridge Five and George Blake—provided novelists with a wealth of material on which they could draw for sinister yet often strangely beguiling antagonists. The most compelling of these actual double agents was Kim Philby, who underwent numerous fictional incarnations and reinventions. Despite notable exceptions such as Graham Greene’s The Human Factor, however, most spy novelists do not develop the double agent or traitor as their main protagonist. The double agent, then, is usually marked as an adversary. Yet the villain, as I treat him or her in this chapter, is in fact a distinct category, identified and functioning in very different ways than the double agent. This is because the most disturbing feature of the double agent is her invisibility and camouflage: until s/he is exposed or confesses, the intelligence agency may have no idea that it has been penetrated by a mole. Tracking down the double may become the biggest challenge a spy agency faces. The double agent works, by definition, undercover, enjoying the confidence, respect and admiration of her colleagues (like Bill Haydon) or—as in the case of Greene’s Maurice Castle—blending innocuously into the background as a harmless if eccentric nonentity. By contrast, the villain in spy fiction is highly visible, marked from the outset as alien, other, even monstrous. The risk of course is that the villain becomes a caricature, lacking in subtlety and serious menace. The villain is surely the most parodied of literary creations: the figure of Dr. Evil—the spoof of Fleming’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld, in Austin 227

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Powers—is perhaps more successful than the parody of Bond himself. However, the villain—whether or not s/he is realistic—does represent, as I argue, prevalent cultural, political, racial, and sexual anxieties of a given period. It is also necessary to distinguish between the “enemy”—as a general, collective, and somewhat abstract conception of an adversarial nation or organization—and the villain as a specific individual embodiment of that enemy. The enemy, that is, is a complex entity defined by its opposition and hostility to the West (primarily Britain, for the purposes of this argument, but also the US). The enemy has undergone various changes since the beginning of the twentieth century, from Russia in the post-Bolshevik Revolution period, to Germany prior to and during World War II, to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, to the terrorist organization or network such as al-Qaeda. Of course, the enemy in spy fiction does not have to be a nation-state or terrorist group: it may be an international cartel such as the organization in Ambler’s A Coffin for Dimitrios, or a sinister spy organization such as the “Free Mothers” in Greene’s The Ministry of Fear. In fiction, though the general enemy may be given a different name—such as Black Stone in Buchan’s Hannay stories, or SMERSH and SPECTRE in Fleming’s Bond novels—it is usually associated with or derived from an actual enemy-state (such as Germany or the Soviet Union). By contrast, the villain in the spy novel is a specific representative—and embodiment—of the qualities and functions, real or imagined, that make the enemy dangerous and frightening. The villain, that is, must be a figure of recognizable “otherness:” evil that threatens the life, safety, goals, and reputation of the hero and by association the national interests of the hero’s state. That is, the villain is symbolically connected to the hero: a villain is “a wicked antagonist; an enemy of the hero, capable of evil doings” (Prince, Dictionary, 104). The villain, to be most effective, must also be a threat to the wider economic and military security of the nation, as understood by the reader. Where the double agent, as we saw, is usually a fictionalized version of an actual historical personage, the villain is potentially a wholly literary creation, a product of the author’s imagination in conjunction with the collective anxieties of society. In this respect the villain is less a character—understood as an individual—than an archetype, embodying potent and destructive forces. In the spy novel, heroes and villains are not just individuals who fight each other, or have conflicting interests, but symptoms of competing social systems or ideologies in a broader conflict. Where the enemy may be abstract and invisible—shrouded in mystery and ominous intent—the villain must be embodied, disturbing, and visible. Another key issue addressed in this chapter is, what makes the villain of the spy novel distinctive, as compared to the villains in other genres of fictional narrative? Phillip Knightley, in trying to account for the phobic portrayal of



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German spies in the early spy novels, links the spy villain to a wider tradition of literary malefactors: The spy stories of Le Queux, Childers, and Buchan all had shared a basic plot, which is almost as ancient as man himself—the overcoming of the monster. The story of how the hero alone recognizes the danger the monster poses to the tribe, how he prepares for the confrontation, how he divines the monster’s secret and eventually kills it, has been told for centuries in all civilizations as a harmless allegory for man’s struggle against evil. (Second Oldest, 27–8)

While one can question whether this “allegory” is as harmless as Knightley alleges—the evidence suggests that the estimates of German spies in Britain prior to World War I were grossly exaggerated, leading to the persecution of innocent aliens—one can agree that the literary role of the “monster” has an ancient history. In the spy novel, the creation of this “monster” involves the demonizing of various nationalities, traits, and physical features and the reinforcing of stereotypes of the “other.” Given that the spy novel derived in part from the Victorian imperial romance—in which the daring British adventurers were pitted against presumptively “inferior” yet menacing “natives”—it is unsurprising to find the presence of xenophobia in spy fiction. As Allan Hepburn notes, there were numerous forms that the “otherness” of the villain could take, including anarchists and terrorists (Intrigue, 11). In describing a villain from Valentine Williams’s Clubfoot novels, John Atkins notes “his simian qualities” and asks the reader to “compare this monster with the grey, unremarkable men who oppose le Carré’s, Deighton’s and Freemantle’s agents, men with normal amounts of hair, without fangs, probably beset by wives and worries,” concluding that “The breed has changed” (Atkins, 55). Similarly, Stafford argues that a shift has occurred from “the monstrous villains of the age of Bond” (Silent, 209) to the “human depictions of the enemy” (209) in more recent spy fictions. Yet the Bond villains did not of course appear in a vacuum. The association of villainy with physical monstrosity and deformity has a long history, and two influential late Victorian manifestations were R.L. Stevenson’s Edward Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Hyde in particular is an apt example of the Victorian villain-monster, not only because of his simian and hirsute appearance, but also because he is portrayed as stunted, dwarflike. No less importantly Hyde can appear as a “gentleman”—he is described as such several times in Stevenson’s novella—raising doubts about the boundary between “respectable” and villainous male identity. Even as Hyde is marked as monstrous, the narrative raises the disturbing possibility that he belongs to respectable society, is not that “different” after all. Indeed, Hyde may be the ideal representative of the villain, because he and the “hero” are in fact the

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same person. The duality of hero and villain in Stevenson’s story anticipates the close linkage between the roles in the twentieth-century spy novel.1 Given the popular fear that a penetration of British society by enemy spies had already occurred—reflected in a bestseller such as The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) in which the villain Chauvelin commands an army of spies in England—the question of how to identify the enemy spy in one’s midst became of crucial importance. As Hepburn remarks, with reference to Riddle of the Sands, “[f]ear of invasion from without in Childers’s novel masks a dangerous doubleness within the body politic and within the body itself” (Intrigue, 11). It became imperative therefore to identify the villain as being of a specific national or ethnic origin, usually by means of some striking physical or linguistic sign. Moreover, the villain in spy fiction would frequently be marked by some physical abnormality, defect, or other anomalous feature. This was effective in identifying the villain even in apparently innocuous surroundings. This identifier may range from the relatively innocuous—the leader of Black Stone in The Thirty-Nine Steps could “hood his eyes like a hawk,” a characteristic that allows Hannay to identify him when he walks into the home of the “Bald Archaeologist”—to the palpably racist, as Buchan’s Colonel Stumm is said to have the “prognathous jaw” of the typical German. As an early archetype of the sinister, malevolent, physically aberrant villain, one may cite Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu. Rohmer taps into contemporary anxieties about the “Yellow Peril” of China, much as Le Queux had exploited—and helped to create—public fears of the German spies buried within England. As McCormick writes, “one cannot escape the fact that the Dr. Fu Manchu stories involve spying (on both sides) and that he marked an era in which all villains tended to be either German or Chinese” (Who’s Who, 155). Rohmer’s narrator, Dr. Petrie, groups himself and the hero, Denis Nayland Smith, among those “who knew something of the secret influences at work to overthrow the Indian Empire, to place, it might be, the whole of Europe and America beneath an Eastern rule” and for whom “it seemed that a great yellow hand was stretched out over London. Dr. Fu Manchu was a menace to the civilized world. Yet his very existence remained unsuspected by millions whose fate he sought to command” (Mystery, 179). The fear of being “invaded by Chinamen” (182) is manifested in the peculiarly sinister figure of Fu Manchu himself, but the villain proves fiendishly elusive as Petrie explains: “a past master of the evil arts lay concealed somewhere in the metropolis; searched for by the keenest wits which the authorities could direct to the task, but eluding all—triumphant, contemptuous” (Mystery, 200). Strikingly, the geographical divide between the Orient (East) and the Occident (West) is mapped on London itself, with Petrie’s journey from the fashionable West End to the “alien” East End reminiscent of a journey into foreign territory: “Aliens of every shade of colour were into the glare of the



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lamps upon the main road about us now, emerging from burrow-like alleys. In the short space of the drive we had passed from the bright world of the West into the dubious underworld of the East” (Mystery, 206).2 On his first encounter with Fu Manchu, Petrie’s narrative pits the Chinese villain against Nayland-Smith in explicitly racial terms: At last they truly were face to face—the head of the great Yellow movement, and the man who fought on behalf of the entire white race. How can I paint the individual whom now I had leisure to study—perhaps the greatest genius of modern times? Of him it has been fitly said that he had a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan. Something serpentine, hypnotic, was in his very presence. (Mystery­126–7)

Strikingly, Rohmer’s description combines the most revered of English cultural icons—Shakespeare—with the subhuman species, evoked in the “serpentine” effect. The account conveys the ambivalent effect of the compelling villain, combining admiration (“the greatest genius”), and repulsion (“a face like Satan”). There follow numerous references to the uncanny eyes of Fu Manchu, again presented in terms of the animal: “He came forward with an indescribable gait, catlike yet awkward … never turning away the reptilian gaze of those eyes which must haunt my dreams for ever. They possessed a viridescence which hitherto I had only supposed possible in the eye of the cat—and the film intermittently clouded their brightness—but I can speak of them no more” (Mystery, 127). As well as the references to non-human creatures, Rohmer’s account is notable in that it reaches the limit of descriptive language—“how can I paint? ... indescribable … speak of them no more.” The most terrifying villain, by implication, is beyond representation. The animal aspects of the villain would be frequently used by later writers, such as Ian Fleming—his Donovan Grant in FRWL is a half-bestial psychopath who is driven to murder by the full moon, while Oddjob in Goldfinger, a Korean who can barely speak and whose hands “glinted as if they were made of yellow bone” (122)—dines on cats.3 Even more consistently, the presence of a disturbing physical mark—such as Fu Manchu’s eyes—is used to differentiate the villain from the “normal” man.4 In the spy novel, the villain must pose a threat to the security and integrity of the civilized world, especially Britain, beyond being physically abhorrent and potentially lethal to the hero. Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of the villain is his or her foreignness: as Kingsley Amis remarked of the Bond novels, “With Mr. Fleming we move beyond the situation in which you only had to scratch a foreigner to find a villain, but you still don’t need to scratch a villain to find a foreigner” (James Bond Dossier, 86). James Chapman seems less sure that such portrayals can be confined to fiction, noting that Bond is cast as “defender of Queen

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and Country” and “[t]he stories are replete with assertions of national pride and with references to decline” (Licence to Thrill, 28).5 For Chapman, the Suez crisis and loss of colonies “rudely drove home the lesson that Britain’s imperial power was diminishing” (Licence, 28)—a decline that Bond would attempt to redress. So what makes the villain of the spy novel and film a distinctive figure, unlike the Victorian “monster” even while sharing some of his qualities? One must emphasize the political dimension of villainy in spy fiction. Beyond the “motiveless malignity” of the stage villain—as Coleridge characterized Shakespeare’s Iago—the spy villain’s objectives are linked—however tenuously—to a presumptively hostile, aggressive ideology, such as fascism or Communism or Islamic extremism, with a specific political agenda, that threatens the freedom or survival of Western democracies. The quality of being foreign—especially German—is itself sufficient to identify villainy in early spy novels by Le Queux, Oppenheim, Childers, and Buchan. But this quality is linked to a set of political assumptions, including the imperialist ambitions of Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II and the threat of the “Yellow Peril” or Chinese ascendancy in the East. The efficiency and ambition of Germany may be admired—as Childers’s Davies expresses—but in the person of the villain, these aims become sinister. There is a persistent association in spy fiction between the villain and duplicity, deception, treachery, and cowardice. By contrast the hero’s behavior appears forthright, direct, and courageous. The early spy novels latched on to the potent threat of Germany as an imperial rival, to establish even the most innocuous-seeming Teuton as a menace. The association of foreignness and villainy is evident in early spy novels such as Headon Hill’s Spies of the Wight (1899). The narrator tells us “Ten years ago, before I retired from the service, I commanded a brigade at Gibraltar, and there was a lot of trouble about some plans that were stolen from the engineer’s office. The crime was traced to the servant of an Italian nobleman, one Count Filiostro, who was staying at one of the hotels” (Hill, 95). In the present the narrator realizes that this Count Filiostro was an assumed identity, and that he is none other than the German villain Baron von Holtman. Hill’s text implies that foreign dignitaries are interchangeable, that Italians and Germans are equally foreign and hostile, and that underneath all foreign presence lurks a threat to Britain. The enemy spy ring in E. Phillips Oppenheim’s The Secret (1907) is based in a network of German waiters—an inoffensive-sounding profession, yet their foreignness (and the rumors that German waiters were indeed enemy spies) is all that is required to make them seem suspicious. Ray Raymond and John Jacox, in Spies of the Kaiser, are dedicated to rooting out enemy spies who have hatched nefarious plots against Britain, and the most reliable indication of a hostile spy is that s/he speaks German.



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John Buchan mined this anti-German xenophobia in The Thirty-Nine Steps, but he adds the physical characteristic of the chief spy in Black Stone: as Scudder warns Hannay of “an old man with a young voice who could hood his eyes like a hawk” (24). This physical detail of course proves to be the decisive clue that allows Hannay to realize he has stumbled into the enemy’s lair: “As he spoke his eyelids seemed to tremble and to fall a little over his keen grey eyes. In a flash the phrase of Scudder’s came back to me, when he had described the man he most dreaded in the world. He had said that he ‘could hood his eyes like a hawk’” (73). Perhaps recalling the mesmerizing eyes of Fu Manchu, who first appeared in print two years before The Thirty-Nine Steps, this may not seem an especially sinister trait, in itself, but in Buchan’s hands the emphasis on the villain’s “weird and devilish” eyes becomes chilling indeed: as Hannay puts it, they are “cold, malignant, unearthly, and most hellishly clever. They fascinated me like the bright eyes of a snake” (76). To this one must add the anti-Semitism of American Franklin P. Scudder’s characterization of the foreign threat, the “Jew” that longs to avenge himself on Russia: “If you’re on the biggest kind of job and are bound to get to the real boss, ten to one you are brought up against a little white-faced Jew in a bath-chair with an eye like a rattlesnake” (17). Before you get to the “Jew,” however, Scudder asserts you will encounter a “prognathous Westphalian with a retreating brow and the manners of a hog” (17), forging a link between the villain and Germany that will stand Buchan in good stead throughout the Hannay series. The phobically figured Germanic traits of the villain are elaborated in the character of Colonel Stumm in Greenmantle: “That man must have had the length of reach of a gorilla. He had a great, lazy, smiling face, with a square cleft chin which stuck out beyond the rest. His brow retreated and the stubby back of his head ran forward to meet it, while his neck below bulged out over his collar” (50). Buchan’s description suggests animalistic qualities, while also deploying racial stereotypes of the German: “Here was the German of caricature, the real German, the fellow we were up against. He was as hideous as a hippopotamus, but effective” (50). A key trait of Stumm is his instinctive sadism: when he has Hannay (under the cover name of Brandt) at his mercy, Stumm grips his shoulders which have “a shrapnel bullet low down at the back of my neck. The wound had healed well enough, but I had pains there on a cold day. His fingers found the place and it hurt like hell” (81).6 When Hannay retaliates, Stumm is again described in animalistic qualities, “grinning like an ape” (81). The caricatures associated with the villain are of course not restricted to works of fiction. “As David Trotter argues, “Popular fiction is peopled by caricatures; but those caricatures can be mistaken for real because the anxieties they encounter or express are real anxieties. Colonel Stumm, with

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his pyramidal head and suspiciously effeminate habits, is a caricature—but one which Buchan’s readers had, in 1916, good cause to fear” (“Politics of Adventure” 30)”. Trotter’s point is important because it reminds us that however exaggerated and caricatured the spy villain may be, s/he must connect in some way with perceptions and anxieties about nationality and race in the period. Buchan also attributes Stumm, notwithstanding his hyper-masculine physique, with implications of effeminacy, noting of the German’s office, “at first sight you would have said it was a woman’s drawing-room” (79). Hannay concludes that “it was the room of a man who had a … perverted taste for soft delicate things. It was the complement to his bluff brutality. I began to see the queer other side to my host, that evil side which gossip had spoken of as not unknown in the German army” (79). Hannay’s association of the “evil side” of Stumm with the rumors of sodomy in the German army apparently purifies the Allied forces of any such “perverted taste.” In Buchan and elsewhere, the villain is a fascinating index of prevailing racial, sexual and national phobias, as well as popular ideas about race and criminality. Of course the villain may be overdetermined: Stevenson’s Hyde has been interpreted as a symptom of male homosexual anxieties, the threat of the Irish, the threat of the urban working class, among other late Victorian phobias. In Buchan, there is an expression of anti-Semitism as well as antiTeutonic phobias, which may lead the reader to wonder where the true villain lies. Yet the association, in Buchan, between villainy and specific physical characteristics, is typical of the time period in which Lombroso and his theory of “Criminal Man,” sought to create profiles of the racial characteristics and skull shapes of those innately disposed to criminal behavior.7 Gothic writers such as Stevenson and Wilde used “the ancestral portrait to convey the power of hereditary determinism” (Reid 86) in identifying villains. As Julia Reid notes, “Hyde’s atavistic appearance is described in terms which echo the criminology and criminal anthropology pioneered by Lombroso and purveyed to British audiences by Havelock Ellis” (95).8 Such assumed associations between criminality and specific physical types are found in Buchan, but their discovery is not always straightforward. For example, when Hannay first encounters the German spies, these telltale physical traits are not apparent because they are able to disguise them: “He had no face, only a hundred different masks” (124). The Black Stone are able to blend in so perfectly with their surroundings of bourgeois middleclass respectability because their physical features are mutable. Buchan solves this problem with characterization of Stumm as a typical German, in Greenmantle; unlike Black Stone, there is no disguising his “prognathous” appearance of this “perfect mountain of a fellow” (50), with his animalistic traits and brutal expression. Arguably he emerges in the course of the novel as a thug rather than a true villain: he is the henchman-figure (a type that



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Fleming would so brilliantly reinvent) with whom Hannay must do battle in order to prove his physical mettle. Yet Stumm is not the mastermind behind the Islamic plot that threatens Britain: the femme fatale, Hilda von Einem is a far more powerful villain, and a source of greater mystery in Buchan’s novel. As discussed earlier in chapter 2, von Einem is a threat to Hannay’s masculinity as well as his mission. As Hannay explains his uncharacteristic timidity in the face of an enemy, “Women had never come much in my way, and I knew about as much of their ways as I knew about the Chinese language. All my life I had lived with men only, and rather a rough crowd at that… . I had never been in a motorcar with a lady before, and I felt like a fish on a dry sandbank. The soft cushions and the subtle scents filled me with acute uneasiness” (171).9 Hence, Hannay’s language makes clear that it is von Einem, rather than her male cohorts, who poses the greatest danger: “My old antagonists, Stumm and Rasta and the whole German Empire, seemed to shrink into the background, leaving only the slim woman with her inscrutable smile and devouring eyes … Mad and bad she might be, but she was also great” (173). Sandy Arbuthnot will go even further than Hannay, suggesting that women make superior spies and agents to men, because of their greater directness and ruthlessness: “Women have got a perilous logic which we never have, and some of the best of them don’t see the joke of life like the ordinary man. They can be far greater than men, for they can go straight to the heart of things. There is no Superman… . But there is a Super-woman, and her name’s Hilda von Einem” (184). Of course, Sandy uses the term “Super-woman” in the Nietzschean sense, of one who rises above the morality and cowardice of the “herd” in the ruthless pursuit of power; rather than the modern sense of a woman who “successfully combines roles as career woman, wife, and mother” (OED). Von Einem conforms to no domestic or professional stereotypes of women in the early twentieth century, instead evoking the quasisupernatural power of the femme fatale such as Haggard’s Ayesha in She. As White points out, “the female spy comments on her male counterpart in her role as femme fatale, … the desirable ‘girl’… or the female professional” (Violent, 3). White’s main point here is that the more successful women are in these various roles, the greater the crisis they provoke in masculine identity. Confirming Sandy’s point that women make the best spies, White notes that “the covert aspect of espionage links it to an attribute pejoratively ascribed to femininity—it is based on deception. Spying employs ‘feminine’ skills such as disguise and dissimulation” (Violent, 2). The hero’s connection with the villain becomes far more unstable, emotional, and personal when that villain is of the opposite sex and when desire is a factor. The evasive, elusive, and enigmatic qualities of the villain are not exclusive to the female villain such as von Einem, however. Indeed, such enigmatic

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elements are key to an effective spy villain such as Eric Ambler’s Dimitrios, where there is even doubt about whether the arch-villain is alive. Latimer is initially told by Colonel Haki that the notorious villain “Dimitrios,” has been killed, and Latimer views his corpse and then reads his file as a matter of professional interest. The record of Dimitrios’s malefactions include gun running, drug trafficking, prostitution rackets and espionage, and his ruthless tactics are certainly worthy of a villain. Yet it turns out that Dimitrios is in fact not only alive, but has faked his own death in order to be a more effective outlaw.10 Latimer speaks to many who have met and worked with Dimitrios— some of whom bear the physical and psychic scars of their encounters, but the man himself is always one step ahead of his pursuers. Only at the end of the novel does Latimer have an encounter with the “real” Dimitrios.11 There is a growing tendency in spy fiction after Buchan, to make the villain physically distinctive or grotesque. However, the spy villain can be more nefariously effective if s/he operates behind a benign or innocuous-seeming “front”—a sinister version of the cover story or “legend” that a spy uses to conceal his or her espionage activities. In the villain’s case, the “legend” is on a grander scale, involving operations that may appear philanthropic and benevolent. In Greene’s The Ministry of Fear, the “Free Mothers” is apparently a philanthropic fundraising group who organize fates and other public activities to benefit those who have been displaced or harmed by the war. The name itself invokes a solicitous maternity, evoking a context of liberated domesticity that does not at first seem sinister. However, in the context of Greeneland (the shorthand term for such moral ambiguity in the author’s work), the loving associations of the “Mothers” are corrupted, serving as a front for a German spy network.12 This Hitchcockian device of exposing a hidden, villainous conspiracy behind an apparently harmless, even benign domestic façade, is one of Greene’s great strengths as a spy novelist.13 Ian Fleming was the master of creating villains that use innocuous or even apparently philanthropic fronts to disguise their ambitions for world domination and destruction. Of course, Fleming’s villains also evoke the physical oddity or grotesqueness that we have already seen in the earlier spy novels. Eco argues, “Bond represents Beauty and Virility as opposed to the Villain, who often appears monstrous and sexually impotent. The monstrosity of the Villain is a constant point” (148); and goes on to enumerate the physical abnormalities or defects of the famous villains from Fleming’s novels, culminating with Goldfinger, “a textbook monster—that is, he is characterized by a lack of proportion” (150). Sir Hugo Drax, however, may be termed the archetypal Bond villain in that he is apparently established, even heralded, within respectable society, and his villainy is only gradually revealed. However, Drax’s bizarre physical characteristics are early clues, both to Bond and the reader, that something is amiss in Drax’s public role.14



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Drax is introduced in the third Bond novel, Moonraker (1955) as a British “national hero” (16)—as M describes him—whom the British people consider “one of them, but a glorified version. A sort of superman” (17).15 Bond relates how Drax had been found, during the war, badly injured “with half his face blown away” (18) and identified him with “the orphan who had been working in the Liverpool docks before the war” (18). He thus acquired the identity of Hugo Drax and went on to make a fortune in a valuable ore called Columbite, after the war. Eventually Drax “had given to Britain his entire holding in Columbite to build a super atomic rocket with a range that would cover nearly every capital in Europe—the immediate answer to anyone who tried to atom-bomb London” (20). Drax’s scheme to benefit his adopted nation is the perfect cover for his actual villainous plot. Published in 1955, Moonraker reflected the anxious mood of the postwar era in which Britain—after the triumphant elation of winning the war against Germany had faded—was faced with the prospect of being a second-rate world power, eclipsed in the nuclear age by its chief ally the US. With Winston Churchill—Britain’s own wartime leader—again serving as Prime Minister, following a spell in office by Labour led by Clement Attlee, Britain was reluctant to accept this inferior status. Consequently, a priority of the British government was to establish its own independent nuclear deterrent. Peter Hennessy cites a key meeting of the Defence Policy Committee, in which Churchill expressed fears that Britain was vulnerable to a nuclear attack by its enemies—especially the Soviet Union—and that it could not rely on American protection: The problem was to decide what practical steps could be taken to effect the saving of £200 million a year, with the least risk of weakening our influence in the world, or endangering our security. Influence depended on possession of force… . We must avoid any action which would weaken our power to influence United States policy. We must avoid anything which might be represented as a sweeping act of disarmament. If, however, we were able to show that in a few years’ time we should be possessed of great offensive power, and that we should be ready to take our part in a world struggle, he thought it would not be impossible to reconcile reductions in defence expenditure with the maintenance of our influence in world councils.” (cited in Hennessy, Secret State, 57)

Whether one views this as a hubristic attempt to remain a world power or a realistic adjustment to the nuclear age, it is clear that possession of nuclear weapons was an important priority of Britain during the Cold War. Equally, the anxiety about Britain’s own vulnerability to nuclear attack was a powerful stimulus, both in politics and the arts.16 This context is important because it helps to account for the collective British blindness to Drax’s malevolent intentions; he offers the nation a

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fantasy of renewed British power and global influence, with his offer to donate 10 million pounds from his own fortune in order to provide Britain with an independent nuclear deterrent, with no cost to the nation (20) apparently fulfilling a dream of technological mastery. Where Churchill, dealing with the economic realities of postwar austerity, worries about the impact of spending cuts on Britain’s military defences, Drax provides the answer: a private source of funding, in gratitude for which the Queen had bestowed Drax with a knighthood. As James Bond offers a fantasy-figure of British world power and masculine virility—despite Britain’s waning role—so Drax offers a fantasy of British nuclear power, and his status as a national hero seems unimpeachable. As Jeremy Black states, “The plot revealed how misguided the public could be, but also how vulnerable the British establishment was to new men” (Politics 18). Yet amongst Drax’s remarkable wealth and achievements, there is one troubling anomaly: as M succinctly expresses it, “Sir Hugo Drax cheats at cards” (Moonraker, 21). To some extent, the stigma evoked by this revelation harks back to an earlier era of the “Clubland Heroes,” reflecting that Britain was a nation “on the cusp of change” that “sought to reconcile change and continuity” (Black, 18). M explains, “don’t forget that cheating at cards can still smash a man. In so-called Society, it’s about the only crime that can still finish you, whoever you are” (22). M’s repeated use of “still” implies his awareness of changing times, and the erosion of the code of honor by which gentleman are (or were) governed. Yet the uneasiness of how to place this “crime” is reflected in M’s concern to save Drax from a damaging scandal (22)—somewhat less severe than being “smashed.” By making a fortune and gaining a knighthood, Drax may seem to have got a foot in the door of the English aristocracy, at the very least to claim the right to be considered a gentleman. The category of the gentleman had, at least since Victorian times, been a contested issue: as Robin Gilmour argues, it was theoretically possible for the self-made man to get into the aristocracy, if he had a great deal of money, some luck and not too thin a skin, but it was more comfortable (and cheaper) to buy a place in the country and set himself up as a weekend squire; this might not gain him entry to the higher county society, but he could reasonably expect to find acceptance somewhere in the ramifications of the gentry network. And acceptance, after all, was the final test and certificate of gentility. (Idea of the Gentleman, 5–6)

Therefore the popular view of the titled aristocracy had, by the twentieth century, become dissociated both from the idea of the “gentleman,” and from the moral and behavioral characteristics that belonged to this idea. Moonraker, as Black argues, “bridged two eras with its discussion of Blades and rockets” (Politics, 18). Drax is described as “a bit loud-mouthed and



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ostentatious” (Moonraker, 16) yet he belongs to the exclusive gentleman’s club, Blades, is a baronet, and moves in high society. He possesses some of the characteristics of the English gentleman, but the revelation that he cheats at cards violates the essential gentlemanly code of honor to which both M and Bond subscribe. The villain expertly exploits the blind spots of the nation he wishes to undermine, taking advantage of the prejudices, anxieties, and snobbery surrounding him. It is only Drax’s physical oddness that might raise suspicions: Bond first encounters Drax at the card table, where the man’s unusual physical appearance contributes to the sense of unease. The fuller description of Drax that follows provides vital clues to the sinister concealed identity of this celebrated national hero. He has a “big square head” and Bond noticed “relics of plastic surgery could be detected in the man’s right ear, which was not a perfect match with its companion on the left, and the right eye, which had been a surgical failure. It was considerably larger than the left eye, because of a contraction of the borrowed skin used to rebuild the upper and lower eyelids” (38). While the reconstructive surgery was medically necessary for Drax following horrendous injuries, it creates the impression that he has something to hide.17 One of the most telling details is “a naturally prognathous upper jaw and a marked protrusion of the upper row of teeth. Bond reflected that this was probably due to sucking his thumb as a child, and it had resulted in an ugly splaying, or diastema, of what Bond had heard his dentist call ‘the centrals’” (38). While Drax’s misshapen teeth can be attributed to a childish neurosis—of thumb-sucking—observation of Drax’s physiognomy invokes the stereotype of Teutonic villainy used by Buchan, as when Scudder refers to the German enemy as a “prognathous Westphalian with a retreating brow” in The Thirty-Nine Steps.18 In Drax’s case the racial origin is less obvious than in Buchan, but Fleming provides plenty of clues. The fact that so many of the men working at Drax’s Moonraker complex near Dover are German makes Bond suspicious—this being less than a decade after the end of World War II. Dr. Walter, the chief engineer, is particularly suspicious to Bond and the clearest warning of Drax’s true allegiances. Similarly Krebs, who refers to Drax as “mein Kapitan” (175) is a signal of a conspiracy against Britain, within its own land. At a key point, Krebs discovers that Bond’s colleague Gala Brand is also in the British Secret Service: announcing it to his boss while Gala is trapped in a car (175). This discovery leads to the revelation of Drax’s true nature: “The man behind the mask” (175). As with earlier spy novels, there is a key moment of revelation in which the villain’s façade falls away and his malevolent nature is revealed.19 Moonraker’s villain is unusual in being both a Soviet Communist and a Nazi. Drax’s hybrid allegiances reflect the period of the novel’s publication,

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when the Nazis were still foremost in the public imagination, even as the Soviet Union had become the Cold War antagonist. According to Jeremy Black, Drax “reflected Fleming’s concerns about German rearmament, concerns from his distrust of the Germans and his belief in national stereotypes. Fleming also represented a widely held fear of Germany as the ‘eternal enemy’” (Politics, 20). Despite being written during the Cold War—when the Soviet Union had emerged as the nemesis of NATO—Fleming’s novel retains the Nazis as the real enemy, with the foreign spies speaking German to each other, reminiscent of Buchan. Having captured both Bond and Gala Brand (whose initials, of course, are those of Great Britain), Drax finally confesses that his original identity is German (206) having been a rising star of the Nazi party before being called into action, disguising himself as a British soldier and then being shot by one of his own planes. His true name, he reveals, is Graf Hugo von der Drache (206). Drache’s actual plan–to launch the atomic rocket he himself has built, named Moonraker, into the heart of London—is devised as an act of revenge for his native Germany against the hated victor of World War II. Bond, in a deliberate attempt to provoke Drache, links his infantile thumb sucking to his Nazism (213). Fleming—who of course had served in Naval Intelligence during the war against Germany—carefully portrays the German villain as at once tremendously powerful and dangerous, while also deluded and infantile. Drache’s hybridity is twofold: firstly, he evokes the confident, sociable man who is also a disturbed child, nursing fantasies of vengeance against a victorious antagonist. Secondly, Drache is a hybrid of the English hero who is also a Nazi fanatic. Drax/Drache is the prototype for many later villains of spy fiction, who similarly display a disturbing mix of ethnic and psychological characteristics, combining a skilled social performance with a deeply antisocial purpose or nihilistic stance. The villain’s disguise as “one of us” lures the complacent nation in to welcoming his Trojan Horse. So effective was the device of using the “ungentlemanly” practice of cheating at cards as a clue to villainy, that Fleming deployed it again in Goldfinger, published in 1959. Michael Denning argues “‘Most of Ian Fleming’s tales have their game where Bond bests the villain, prefiguring the final struggle” (Cover, 33). However, the context is very different, as Auric Goldfinger is not initially nursed in the bosom of the British establishment. The man who alerts Bond to the cheating multimillionaire is not M, with his official place in the hierarchy over Bond, but a relative stranger, the American millionaire, Junius Du Pont. Indeed, Du Pont does not make the accusation but explains how he has consistently lost at Canasta to the same opponent. It is Bond who reaches the conclusion that Du Pont has been cheated (Goldfinger, 18). Moreover, the setting for Goldfinger’s scam is not a prestigious gentleman’s club in London, but a luxury hotel in Miami Beach, where Bond will be



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invited to stay at Du Pont’s expense. This points to the single most important difference between the scenarios: the motive for dealing with the cheating. In Moonraker, the aim is to protect a national hero from being disgraced, whereas in Goldfinger Bond’s motive is purely mercenary, Du Pont offering him $10,000 to discover the trick. Like Drax, Goldfinger is fabulously wealthy and does not need the money from his scam. Auric Goldfinger bespeaks a foreignness that is belied by his passport: Du Pont advises Bond “he’s a Britisher. Domiciled in Nassau” (20). These conflicting signifiers in Goldfinger’s name and domicile are amplified when he is described physically. The preoccupation with the villain’s eyes is virtually a constant in the spy novel, both due to their function as the organs, literally, of spying—and because they reveal disturbing aspects of the antagonist’s personality. In this case, Bond observes Goldfinger’s cold, methodical recording of new acquaintances: “For an instant Mr Goldfinger’s pale, chinablue eyes opened wide and stared hard at Bond. They stared right through his face to the back of his skull. Then the lids drooped, the shutter closed over the X-ray, and Mr Goldfinger took the exposed plate and slipped it away in his filing system” (27). The idea that Bond is being secretly photographed by Goldfinger anticipates the later scene, in Goldfinger’s house, where Bond discovers a concealed cine camera that has been recording his every move. The spy villain, among other traits, is like the hub of a Panopticon. Another trait that characterizes Goldfinger as a villain is his bizarre physical appearance, placing him in the company of other misshapen malefactors: he is unusually short, “and on top of the thick body and blunt, peasant legs was set almost directly into the shoulders a huge and it seemed exactly round head. It was as if Goldfinger had been put together with bits or other people’s bodies. Nothing seemed to belong” (28). Like Sir Hugo Drax, Goldfinger has red hair, a trait which has stereotypical associations of the sinister, and suffers from an arrested development.20 Bond will not be surprised to discover that cheating at cards is a mere peccadillo compared to other misdemeanors. In addition to his physical oddity, Goldfinger’s ethnic hybridity is a source of fascination for Bond, who speculates that he can change from Balt to Englishman, leaving few traces of his origins (29). Bond’s desire to place Goldfinger’s ethnic origins is not idle curiosity, but reflects an impulse to classify him as foreign and (therefore) hostile to England. Whether German, Slavic, or Baltic, Goldfinger has the necessary alien pedigree required of the villain. Like Drax, his cheating at cards—and at golf—indicates a man lacking the honor code of the English gentleman, and Bond enjoys outwitting and punishing him. Yet Goldfinger has certain resemblances to Bond himself: his love of competitive games and sports, a mercenary instinct, his pleasure in fine motorcars, as well as his promiscuous use of women. As Hepburn notes of Bond, “[h]e has sex with whichever woman throws herself in his libidinal

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path—except women who show interest in him.” (Intrigue, 189). Goldfinger takes this desire to overcome a challenge and possess women to the extreme, painting his women gold so that when he has sex with them he is symbolically enjoying his wealth (162). As a professional agent, Bond may at times be suspected of mercenary motives, but this pales by comparison with Goldfinger’s compulsive hoarding of the precious metal. His obsession with the metal leads him to place it on his body, carrying a belt crammed with gold coins wherever he goes (38). Goldfinger’s name suggests one who is physically composed of gold, but the metal is really his fetish. However this is a fascination he shares with others, including Bond. The villain is compelling because he represents, in extreme form, tendencies (sometimes suppressed) of the hero himself. If Goldfinger uses money to buy people, the same can be said of Bond who gives his $10.000 to Jill Masterton, in payment for their night of passion (48). Fleming’s skill in creating villains is to merge the personal obsession— gold, or power—together with a larger political, ideological objective. Hence Goldfinger’s plan break into Fort Knox (186) is about more than simply increasing his own personal stock of gold. Apart from his massive wealth, Goldfinger is an agent of SMERSH, the Soviet counterespionage organization. Hence, the attack on Fort Knox is a strategic assault on Western capitalism, symbolized by the gold reserve of the most powerful economy on earth. His use of an atomic warhead “powerful enough to blast open the Bullion Vault at Fort Knox” (210) is symbolic of a nuclear strike on the US, and the equivalent of Drax’s plan to send an atomic missile into the heart of London. There are also sixty thousand casualties planned as a result of the Operation Grand Slam (210) which leads Bond to identify himself with St. George—the patron saint of England—who must do battle with the dragon. This comparison might strike the reader as self-aggrandizing. However, Bond emerged as a fictional hero at a time of great challenge and insecurity for Great Britain. The heroic status of Bond, a reminder of the mythic champions of the past, serves as a tonic for this postwar malaise. The George-andthe-dragon scenario also makes clear that this is a personal battle between hero and villain, as well as a struggle between Communism and Capitalism. Bond is indisputably the best agent for the British Secret Service, as established in FRWL, and he is required to protect the interests of the West, which apparently the CIA cannot accomplish. Both men, therefore—Bond and Goldfinger—are representatives of rival powers and organizations. Yet their antagonism is also personal, a battle of intellects and deeply antipathetic personalities. We sense Bond’s aversion to Goldfinger from their first encounter at the Floridiana Cabana Club, and his ‘kidnapping’ of Jill is designed to wound Goldfinger’s sexual vanity as much as secure Bond’s exit.



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There is both an ethical and moral dimension to this antagonism: the villain is a cheat, or a bully, or a loudmouth, or all of the above, and he needs cutting down to size. Yet the hero’s reaction to the villain—in Bond, as well as in other spy novels—is negative in a visceral way, defying rational explanation. Like Hannay’s aversion to the head of the Black Stone, Rowe’s/Digby’s dislike of Dr. Mortimer, or Palmer’s antipathy to Dalby, Bond’s repugnance for the villain is instinctive rather than intellectual. This personal dislike adds drama and suspense to the spy story, for we know that the spy hero will not abandon his quest to track down and destroy his enemy. Bond’s mission is not just a matter of a professional assignment or orders; not just a matter, even, of national security and patriotism. The enmity is personal, a fight to the death in which only one—St. George or the Dragon—can remain standing. Compelling as these earlier Bond villains are, the ultimate nemesis of James Bond is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who first appears in Thunderball and is also the central villain of OHMSS and YOLT. Due to the recurrence and overwhelming malignancy of this villain, there is a tendency for him to eclipse any specific state-based organization. As Eco remarks, “with Blofeld Russia ceases to be the constant enemy … and the part of the malevolent organization assumed by SPECTRE has all the characteristics of SMERSH” (“Narrative,” 152). Identifying Blofeld in Thunderball with a mesmerizing visual power (43), Fleming adds that his “physical appearance is extraordinary” (44) and that this is a source of his authority and fascination. Fleming tellingly gives Blofeld his own birthday of May 28, 1908, though his origins are appropriately foreign: born in Gdynia of a Polish father and Greek mother, Blofeld is both highly educated and unscrupulous in using his official position in the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs (44) to enrich himself. Using brilliant skills of invention that would do justice to a novelist, Blofeld creates a fictional spy network, and sells the vital information that passes through his office to Germany and then—because it pays better—to America. Blofeld is less a double agent than an imaginary spymaster, using the fake network (of secretaries, cipher clerks) to protect himself from discovery. Like a villain from a sensation novel, Blofeld returns to his birthplace and removes the record of his birth and name, then migrates to Istanbul during World War II and establishes another spy network. Cannily, Blofeld waits until the outcome of the war is apparent and then sells his secret information to the allies, and is decorated by the victorious British and Americans. As Thunderball begins, Blofeld is in Paris, presiding over the organization that has emerged from the wartime espionage networks whose products he sold to the highest bidder: SPECTRE, the Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion (50).

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Fleming makes clear that Blofeld has no specific ideological convictions, but is a pure mercenary. Though he has been celebrated by the Allies, his organization uses “the Communist triangle system for security reasons” (Thunderball, 49)—that is, Blofeld is a hybrid of different political systems and ethnic origins. In describing his appearance, Fleming emphasizes his eyes, noting another kind of ambiguity, that of gender: his eyes have an “unusual symmetry” producing a “doll-like effect” that is “enhanced by long silken black eyelashes that should have belonged to a woman” (47). Yet this suggestion of femininity in Blofeld’s face is belied by his massive girth, his body “weighed about twenty stone. It had once been all muscle … but in the past ten years it had softened and he had a vast belly that he concealed behind roomy trousers” (48). While emphasizing Blofeld’s brilliant mind, Fleming gives him the grotesque, odd appearance requisite of the villain. The key to Blofeld’s success is the impeccable structure and planning of his organization which–with its official-sounding acronym–is a shadow system of the Western spy bureaucracies that had emerged or dramatically expanded during World War II. In particular, SPECTRE seems to be a mirror image of SIS, in that its agents are all possessed of watertight cover. Blofeld rules SPECTRE with an iron fist, doling out horrific punishments to those who betray him—such as electrocuting one member of the committee in his chair at the conference table (54). In structure and purpose—the maximizing of profit—SPECTRE resembles a large private corporation, yet its methods are even more ruthless than the capitalist behemoths it resembles. In the course of the novels in which he appears, Blofeld becomes more than a general public enemy to the Western powers that helped to create and enrich him. He emerges as Bond’s personal antagonist and nemesis, the focus of Bond’s own obsession—apparent from the end of Casino Royale—to identify and extirpate the greatest threats to Western democracy. In OHMSS, Bond gains access to Blofeld by posing as Sir Hilary Bray, from the College of Arms, who is invited to Blofeld’s alpine lair in the Swiss Alps, Piz Gloria, to verify Blofeld’s claim to be the Count de Bleuville. Having convinced Blofeld of the importance of being Ernst—“You see, Count, among the Blofelds of Augsburg there are no less than two Ernsts” (138)—Bray/Bond pursues his course of seducing the female patients at Blofeld’s clinic, who all suffer from extreme allergies (137). Ultimately, Blofeld is also the cause of Bond’s greatest personal tragedy, the assassination of his wife Tracy, at the end of OHMSS. Blofeld has been described as sexually neuter—“he had never been known to sleep with a member of either sex” (48)—yet he has the power to emasculate Bond, apparently cutting off any hope of a matrimonial and reproductive future for 007. In fact, Bond will live with Kissy Suzuki for a year in YOLT, but is suffering from amnesia after a head injury, and



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leaves her without knowing she is carrying his child (Benson, James Bond Companion). In the history of the Bond films, Blofeld has never been played by the same actor twice—in films in which his face is shown—mimicking and exaggerating the cinematic transformation of Bond himself by a succession of different actors. His first screen appearance is in FRWL—the second Bond film, which transforms the enemy from SMERSH to SPECTRE—though his face is never shown, and only his hands are displayed stroking a white cat. Played by Anthony Dawson (who took the role of the villain’s henchman Professor Dent in Dr No), Blofeld’s voice is dubbed by the Austrian actor Eric Pohlmann. The same combination of actor and voice is used in Thunderball, where Blofeld is again shown stroking a white cat, his face withheld. Not until YOLT does Blofeld make a full frontal appearance, played by Donald Pleasance, whose villain was designated by Time magazine as “an asexual monster’” (cited in Miller, Spyscreen, 149). Bond’s apparent “death” at the beginning—in one of Britain’s few remaining colonies, Hong Kong—signals that he, like Blofeld, is able to reincarnate himself to do battle with the enemy. American actor Telly Savalas takes the role of Blofeld in OHMSS, bringing a greater charm and superficial bonhomie to the character, though his plot—an epidemic of world sterility—is if anything more psychotic and ruthless than those of his predecessors. Blofeld is added to the film of Diamonds Are Forever (though he does not feature in Fleming’s novel), where he is played by Charles Gray, who had played one of Bond’s SIS contacts in Japan in YOLT.21 Blofeld’s final appearance in the official Bond franchise occurs in For Your Eyes Only where Bond—having been abducted after visiting Tracy’s grave— survives an assassination attempt by Blofeld and apparently kills his arch enemy by dropping him from a helicopter down an industrial chimney. However, Blofeld would again appear in the unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again (Sean Connery’s last performance in the role)—a remake of Thunderball—in which the villain is played by Max von Sydow. The cinematic transformations of Blofeld emphasize the shape-shifting reinvention and chameleon-like qualities of the villain. It also implies the instability of the enemy, the difficulty of identifying Blofeld’s latest incarnation and wiping out this hydra-headed monster. The film Diamonds Are Forever plays on this disturbing power of villainous transformation, as Blofeld is about to create a duplicate of himself using plastic surgery, in order to further confound the Secret Service. In a later scene, Blofeld—who uses voice transformation to impersonate the reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte—has successfully created a self-replica, leading Bond into a dilemma when he breaks into the Whyte House (Blofeld’s secret lair atop the Las Vegas hotel). Using the ploy of frightening the signature white cat and then killing the version of Blofeld

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into whose lap it leaps, Bond discovers that even the feline has been cloned: “Right idea, Mr Bond” suggests Blofeld; “But wrong pussy!” is Bond’s riposte (Diamonds). If Diamonds shows the Blofeld character veering into parody, there is a crucial point about Blofeld’s background that is not always recognized. He was originally hired as an agent of the Allies in World War II, providing them with much-needed intelligence. However aberrant and monstrous he has become, he was made rich and given a “blaze of glory” (Thunderball, 47) by Britain and the US. In thus detailing Blofeld’s origins, Fleming shows the arch-villain as the flip side of Western democracy, and a perpetual reminder of its hypocrisy and unscrupulous use of intelligence from any source. Despite his long absence from the screen, Blofeld has arguably been reincarnated as the villains of more recent Bond films in which the bad guy was once the good guy, but has turned (to use the familiar phrase from another iconic series) to the “dark side.”22 This pattern—the chief villain of Bond films having been himself a former British agent and even a colleague of Bond’s—may seem to echo the betrayals of Vesper Lynd, Bond’s colleague in Casino Royale. Certainly the pattern raises the betrayal of friendship and intimacy, though lacking the specific sexual element of Bond’s relations to Vesper. However the revelation that someone Bond trusted is in fact an enemy indicates a crisis in Bond’s ability to control events. Identifying the “dominating penis” as “a physical sign and technique for exerting force over others, especially women—Bond’s instant attraction to those he meets on the street or anywhere else, in all the films” (152), Toby Miller explores a specific dynamic in which Bond’s sexual exploits onscreen are a matter of power. The failure of Bond to “dominate” Vesper is arguably the greatest blow to this masculine role, but there are no less significant betrayals on the male side. The new era of Bond—following a long hiatus after Timothy Dalton’s final performance in Licence to Kill (1989)—was ushered in by just such a masculine betrayal, which resulted in a struggle for power, to be in effect the “dominating penis.” At the opening sequence of GoldenEye (1995), Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as Bond, we witness the assassination of his friend and fellow SIS agent, Alec Trevelyan (referred to as 006, indicating his seniority over Bond) at the hands of the Soviet General Ourumov, while on a mission to destroy a Soviet Chemical weapons factory. Bond is traumatized at his failure to protect his partner, but later learns that Alec Trevelyan has survived and become “Janus,” the independent terrorist leader, who is plotting an attack against Britain’s computer infrastructure. Like the typical Bond villain, Trevelyan’s background is foreign, his British identity only a mask for his origin as a Russian Cossack.23 Flaunting the two-facedness of “Janus,” Trevelyan blames Bond for having caused the scarring to his face by changing the timer to the explosion on their final



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mission. Trevelyan, in attempting to seduce Bond’s love interest Natalya Simonova, tells his captive “James and I shared everything,” suggesting a sexual bond between the 00s. In their final confrontation, on the satellite antennae, to be the dominant “alpha,” Trevelyan boasts, “you know James, I was always better” (GoldenEye)—before being thrown to his death by 007. The film suggests that not only does Trevelyan have two faces, but that he is the “other face” of Bond himself.24 The trope of a former SIS agent becoming the most dangerous enemy of the Secret Service is most effectively used in Skyfall (2012) in which Raoul Silva—formerly a SIS agent in Hong Kong—returns to carry out a complex plan of revenge. Silva’s target is not Bond himself, but M (played by Dame Judi Dench) who had betrayed Silva to the Chinese before the handover of Hong Kong, in exchange for the release of several British agents. After years of torture—and after he had tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide using his cyanide capsule—Silva had discovered M’s betrayal, and has plotted the downfall of her and the Secret Service.25 On his first appearance in the film— on a private island where he has his base—Silva delivers an anecdote about an infestation of rats on his grandmother’s island, the outcome of which is that only two rats remain, who want to eat each other. Silva likens himself and Bond to the two rats who can either destroy each other or turn against their controller M. Silva is explicit about the failed maternal role of M with respect to her agents, telling Bond: “mommy has been very bad.” As with Trevelyan/Janus, we can see Silva as a representation of the dark side of Bond—Silva’s overt hatred of M is an extreme version of Bond’s own antagonistic relationship with the chief, and her callous treatment of him in ordering another field agent to “take the shot” that almost costs Bond’s life. Silva, played by Spanish actor Javier Barden, also brings the foreign element to the role of villain, despite the fact that he was a “brilliant agent” for the SIS, according to M. His disfigurement by the cyanide nitrate capsule he took while suffering torture from the Chinese, also introduces the element of physical deformity common to the spy villain: concealed most of the time by an elaborate oral prosthetic device, Silva’s missing jaw is another physical sign of his monstrosity.26 Here, as earlier in Bond’s adventures, his determination to defeat the villain single-handedly smacks of hubris and self-importance. Bond’s decision to kidnap M following Silva’s attack on her at a Parliamentary Hearing on SIS’s security failures may be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, it shows his willingness to place himself in personal danger to protect the head of the Secret Service. On the other, the act suggests Bond’s conceit in believing that the other SIS agents assigned to protect M are incompetent to do their job. Likewise, Bond’s decision to take M to his childhood home in Scotland, Skyfall—an ancient homestead lacking any real defenses or security—shows his belief in his own invincibility.

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While its remote location in the Scottish Highlands may be a tactical advantage, Bond’s choice of his family home as a refuge shows us that Bond’s battle with Silva is, for him, a personal one. Bond eventually emerges as the “last rat standing,” but one might claim that Silva has done his dirty work for him by eliminating the “bad mother,” M. The personal nature of the spy hero’s antagonistic relationship with the villain is perhaps the most significant recurring pattern in spy fiction. Although this antagonism is also professional, ideological, and ethical—East versus West, Capitalism versus Communism, good versus evil—there is typically an edge of warped intimacy and a desire for revenge at work. Even the apparently detached, self-controlled George Smiley is not immune to this personal vengeance. In response to the infidelity of his wife Ann—orchestrated by his Soviet enemy, Karla—Smiley’s pursuit of the Soviet spymaster becomes a personal quest, even an obsession, that culminates in a fitting revenge. Karla had used Smiley’s wife to blind him, at least temporarily, to Haydon’s treachery. In a brilliant reprisal, Smiley uses the fact that Karla has a daughter, Tatiana, kept in a sanitarium in Switzerland and, by ‘turning’ Gregoriev, the Soviet agent responsible for looking after Tatiana, Smiley exploits her to force Karla’s defection to the West. There is a poetic justice to Karla’s crossing from East to West Berlin at the oberbaumbrücke, recalling the opening of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold in which Smiley witnessed the killing of Leamas after he failed to crossover at the Berlin Wall. Yet Smiley’s desire for the personal triumph and revenge against the villain seems to have taken priority over the professional interests of the Circus. As we saw in the previous chapter, the representation of the double agent in spy fiction has fairly clear connections to actual double agents and traitors, such as Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess. By contrast, the spy villain may seem to be a more elaborately fictional creation, even a mythical embodiment of the “monster” of ancient quest and adventure narratives. The villain’s physical oddity or grotesqueness, sexless nature, megalomania, or obsessive greed, all strike us as exaggerations designed for maximum dramatic effect. In a more critical reading, the villain embodies the “casual viciousness and bureaucratized lack of interest in human life” (Miller, Spyscreen, 144) that reflect life under postwar capitalism. But the villain’s connection to a specific historical personage—even in the era of such real-life genocidal monsters as Hitler, Stalin, and Idi Amin—seems remote. There are examples, however, of the villain of the spy story being an actual historical personage. Eduard Roschmann, the Nazi war criminal hunted down by journalist/spy Peter Miller in Frederick Forsyth’s The Odessa File, is such a case. In an intriguing twist, Miller is given information allowing him to pursue the Nazi by Simon Wiesenthal, the real-life Austrian concentration camp survivor and Nazi hunter. Forsyth’s pioneering use of faction—the blending



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of historical fact and imaginative invention—results here in a bizarre blurring of truth and fiction, culminating in the capture of the real-life Roschmann in Argentina, due to a local man having recently seen the film of The Odessa File: according to Forsyth, “Roschmann wasn’t fictional. He existed. He was The Butcher of Riga. And he was discovered in Argentina after the release of the film of my book in 1974. One of his neighbours went to see the film. Sat there. Stared at the screen and said to himself: ‘He lives down my street.’ So he denounced him to the Argentinian authorities” (Cabell, Forsyth, 51). Other spy and suspense novels of the 1970s featured villains based on Nazi war criminals—especially Josef Mengele, “the Angel of Death”—such as William Goldman’s Marathon Man (1974) and Ira Levin’s The Boys from Brazil (1976). Both of these novels were also adapted into successful films, but there is no evidence that they led to the capture of a Nazi in hiding. Forsyth remains unusual in incorporating real historical figures into his novels, giving them central dramatic roles. The villain of the spy novel invariably has grand schemes and global endeavors, not merely petty theft or straightforward crime. John Atkins makes a distinction between the spy novel, which is “usually concerned with ideology because the spies work for national organizations which profess political ideals” (39) and “the conspiracy novel [which] is cruder and more physical because naked power is the only aim” (British Spy Novel, 39).27 Yet in practice, while the villain of the spy novel may work for a national organization, this is secondary to his or her personal drive for absolute power and untold wealth. The spy villain, it may be said, invariably presents a serious threat to the security, economic health, and sovereign status of the West. He may be plotting the capture of Britain’s most precious military secrets, or planning an invasion of Britain by a foreign power, or a deadly military assault on the holdings of Western wealth. In addition to these grandiose plans, the villain poses a profound individual threat to the hero’s physical safety: holding him captive, and torturing him (such as Le Chiffre administering a beating to Bond’s genitals in Casino Royale), and/or threatening the women that the hero has vowed to protect. For Eco, the struggle has “all the characteristics of the opposition between Eros and Thanatos, the principle of pleasure and the principle of reality, culminating in the moment of torture” (153–4). Significantly, the threat is often overtly sexual: Goldfinger’s unheeded warning to Bond by killing his recent conquest Jill Masterton with gold paint, leads to the menace of castration of Bond himself. As Miller points out, in the film version Bond is at greater risk of castration, “taunted by Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) while an industrial laser cuts through wood and metal between his spread legs” (Miller, 146). But beyond this immediate danger of violence and tyranny, the villain has orchestrated a conspiracy of international significance: and it is this plot

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that makes his defeat and destruction imperative, and requires the special skills of the spy hero. The bizarre or deformed physical characteristics, the masked yet identifiable foreignness, the sexual eccentricities and psychic traumas or scars, are all subordinated to or absorbed within this larger, more potent threat. The individual traits of the villain may be clues to his nefarious schemes—as with Drax’s braying laugh or obnoxious behavior—but they are eclipsed by the ruthlessness of the villain’s global designs. Blofeld’s plan of biological warfare is at once insanely malicious and brilliantly planned, as the man from the Ministry of Agriculture, Leathers, recognizes with seeming admiration: “‘And it’s so damned simple!’” (OHMSS, 210).28 This may be a clue to why the villain is essential to the form and appeal of the spy novel: s/he represents the dark desires that we prefer, in our conscious minds, to disavow, yet nonetheless—or because of this—secretly enjoy seeing acted out by surrogates on page or screen. As Amis remarks, moreover, the villain has to be significant enough to present a real challenge to Bond (Dossier, 67). Bond as a fantasy figure is relatively consistent across the novels. His role in the Bond films becomes increasingly that of a superhero. It is the villains that provide surprise, suspense, and narrative diversity to the Bond story. A second important source of the villain’s power is his possession and mastery of science and technology. In this area, also, the villain’s technical expertise is an exaggerated version of the spy hero’s use of machines and gadgets such as cars, guns, and sophisticated surveillance devices. Increasingly, the villain would be associated with science and technology in the spy novel and film, offering a dystopian vision of the West’s economic and cultural fixation on machines, nuclear science, and biotechnology. As we see with international outrage over the weapons of mass destruction and nuclear programs (alleged or otherwise) of Iraq and Iran, the possession of the destructive power of atomic weapons can be prized as a great achievement or condemned as an outrage, depending on who seeks this power. Frederick Hitz notes “the ways in which sophisticated and highly creative uses of Western technology and scientific expertise have been harnessed to enhance the ability of Western spies to do their job” (Great Game, 136). However, “Unfortunately the bad guys against whom this new technology will be directed will also have access to electronic weapons and countermeasures of their own” (Great Game, 184). The use of surveillance technology and advanced weapons levels the playing field, giving the villain an advantage with the unscrupulous use of such technology. The spy novel reveals that technology is a double-edged sword that can be turned on the hero’s spy organization as easily as it can be used to defeat the enemy. Inevitably, it is the intended purpose for weapons of mass destruction (in works of fiction) that determines whether they are coded as villainous or desirable. While there is an increasing



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pattern in which the villains of spy novels are portrayed as men of science and technology, the spy villain proposes to use his scientific mastery for political and destructive purposes.29 Yet the villains of spy novels were not the only ones anxiously seeking to obtain atomic weapons. As the spy novel reached new heights of popularity in the Cold War era of the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear weapons were becoming the sine qua non of aspirations of global power. As Winston Churchill stated in 1954, on being told of the huge economic costs involved in Britain manufacturing its own hydrogen bomb, “We must do it. It’s the price we pay to sit at the top table” (Hennessy, 46). Yet paradoxically, this reliance on nuclear weapons could create new kinds of vulnerability, as “the capacity to retaliate against a Soviet bloc attack with nuclear weapons became the political, psychological and, above all, financial reason for not creating a serious civil defence system in Britain” (Hennessy, 48). The obsession with nuclear weapons, that is, becomes a source of defensive weakness. As Edward Milward-Oliver observes, “Ever since scientists realized the destructive potential of nuclear energy, the acquisition and protection of nuclear weapons secrets has headed the list of intelligence priorities” (Deighton Companion, 213), and this importance is manifested in numerous spy novels and films. As Christopher Andrew notes, President George H. Bush, a former head of the CIA, was “the first president to use the word SIGINT in public” and this would be “a ‘prime factor’ in his foreign policy” (For the President’s, Illus., 309). If this technological imperative is self-evident for a (globally declining) nation-state such as Britain, it is also the case for the villains in spy novels: gaining access to nuclear weapons becomes a key to being taken seriously, possessing the kind of threat that will force Western governments to respond. Alternatively, disrupting the West’s nuclear program becomes a powerful tool for the villains to make their mark in international affairs. The potent combination of a personal desire for vengeance and the vast impersonal power of technology, is an apt illustration of the villain’s role as a symptom of post-industrial malaise. The villain’s source of power is his insight into the unconscious drives, yearnings, and hypocrisies of the West, and his ability to exploit them. Where Childers, in writing Riddle of the Sands used the primitive idea of a German invasion to alert the British to their own blindness to the threat of a rising enemy, the modern spy novelist uses sophisticated technologies and elaborate narrative structures that also expose flaws in the security systems of the West. Yet even in the age of SIGINT, drones, and weapons of mass destruction, the spy novel is ultimately a dramatic struggle between individual agents rather than nation-states. While the villain is inevitably marked by a physical stigma and foreignness that seem to contrast the spy hero’s patriotism, the struggle and rivalry between them is of a primal rather than political nature.

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If the villain’s role reminds us that technology and weaponry are doubleedged swords, might the same be said for the technology of writing itself? While it is unusual for a spy novel to have a villain at its narrative center, there is surely ample evidence that the villain—no less than the spy hero— may be an authorial surrogate. In describing the frequent recruitment of authors—especially novelists—by the British Secret Service, Mark David Kaufman argues “this sort of recruitment differs from propaganda in that it seeks to reify or weaponize literariness in action, in the field of operations itself” (“Secret States” 9, original emphasis). In other words, the abilities of the novelist may be turned to political use in the service of national security, as was the case with Buchan, Fleming, and others. Yet, as Kaufman observes, “this weaponization … is risky. Agents, like guns, are liabilities. They may be turned. They may misfire or explode without warning… . In short what SIS did not expect was that the very literary qualities they sought in their agents would also prove dangerous” (9, original emphasis). This unpredictable nature of literary creation means, among other things, that there is no straightforward identification between novelist and spy hero. The novelist may be a double agent, appearing to work for one side while serving the interests of another. Graham Greene, for example worked for the British Secret Service yet maintained his friendship with SIS’s most notorious traitor, Kim Philby, after the latter’s defection to Moscow. The novelist may in effect be trying to destroy the spy hero, as Fleming attempted Bond’s destruction numerous times and eventually had M— another surrogate—write 007’s obituary. Recalling the clue that Fleming provided in giving his arch-criminal, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, his own birthday on May 28, 1908, we reach the only possible conclusion: novelist and villain are one and the same.

NOTES 1. Among the prime examples of the villain as the “dark double” or alter ego of the spy hero that I discuss, is Donovan Grant as a villainous counterpart to Bond himself. 2. This divide between the East End and the West End—at once economic, cultural, and criminal—is a feature of other late Victorian and Edwardian novels, such as Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890/91). 3. Eco describes characters such as Grant and Oddjob as “vicarious figures” (“Narrative Structures” 149) that are mere subordinates of the true villain (Klebb, Goldfinger). However, for much of the novel Bond is in life-or-death conflict with these characters, who may in this respect be considered villains. 4. Of course, villains of spy novels share traits with the evildoers of other genres of fiction. There has been a long history and linage of literary villains, but the



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undisputed master of memorable and creepy villains in the nineteenth century was Charles Dickens. With a gallery of malefactors that includes Fagin and Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist, Daniel Quilp in the Old Curiosity Shop, Jonas Chuzzlewit in Martin Chuzzlewit, Uriah Heep in David Copperfield, and Silas Wegg in Our Mutual Friend, Dickens had an uncanny ability to create villainous characters that both stir outrage and give pleasure to the reader. This pleasurable aspect of villainy should not be neglected, and is connected in Dickens’s case to the physical grotesquerie and sexual menace surrounding his malevolent characters. 5. The politics of disfigurement are not always so easy to read. As David Trotter, discussing an example of female disfigurement in Joseph Hatton’s By Order of the Czar (1890), “it is a hieroglyph rather than a manifesto; the injury condensed in its ruin will never enter fully into political process. Disfigurement is too mysterious an emblem to sway senates or rally crowds” (“Politics of Adventure” 35). 6. This scenario is replayed in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough, (1999) when the villain Renard (Robert Carlyle) squeezes Bond’s shoulder, knowing that he has been injured there—which clues Bond into the fact that he has been betrayed by Elektra King. 7. One sees this attitude in various late Victorian texts: for example, as Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray, in the character of Basil Hallward, “Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed. People talk sometimes of secret vices. There are no such things. If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even” (Wilde, Dorian Gray, 126–7). 8. Elaine Showalter describes RLS as “the fin-de-siecle laureate of the double life. In an essay on dreams, he described his passionate aim to ‘find a body, a vehicle for that strong sense of man’s double being’ which he had felt as a student in Edinburgh when he dreamed of leading ‘a double life—one of the day, one of the night’” (Sexual Anarchy 106). 9. Significantly, although the enemy is German in Buchan’s world, “Chinese” is still invoked here as the benchmark of an inscrutable foreignness. Fu Manchu and von Einem may be closer than it first appears. 10. Dimitrios is clearly an influence on later villains in spy fiction such as Harry Lime in The Third Man, who also fakes his own death in order to disappear from the authorities view. In FRWL, about to face such malevolent figures as Donovan Grant and Rosa Klebb, Bond prepares himself for his ordeal by reading The Mask of Dimitrios. 11. This elusive quality echoes Professor Moriarty, one of the great fictional villains, who is almost impossible to track down, even by a detective of Sherlock Holmes’s unique powers. Like Holmes, Moriarty is a master of disguises, a criminal genius with a huge network of allies and assistants. He is the counterpart of Holmes—one might even say his dark side—being brilliant and mercurial, revealing an intriguing blend of cold intellect and sudden passion that mirrors Holmes’s own temperament. Ultimately, Holmes can only defeat the villain Moriarty by sacrificing his own life, apparently, in “The Final Problem.” 12. One could argue that the sphere of domesticity has already been poisoned by Rowe’s mercy killing of his own wife. Wives and mothers are both associated with

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crime and violence, a disruption of the moral and emotional security of the other characters and the reader. 13. For an apt description of “Greeneland” see Coetzee, Introduction, xii. For Coetzee, “his [Greene’s] immediate descent is from the Joseph Conrad of The Secret Agent. Among his progeny, John Le Carré is the most distinguished” (xiii). 14. Many of Fleming’s villains have been successfully captured on film, even when there are significant differences from Fleming’s portrayal: Dr. No, Rosa Klebb, and Goldfinger are all memorable cinematic villains, following Fleming in the spirit if not the letter. The same cannot be said of Sir Hugo Drax: though a fine actor, Michael Lonsdale fails to do justice to the sinister faux-British persona of Fleming’s villain in the film of Moonraker. Of course, the film as a whole departs so radically from Fleming’s plot that their shared title is quite misleading. And, not being British, the film’s Drax is not called Sir Hugo but simply Hugo. My thanks go to the anonymous reader for the press for pointing out this discrepancy. 15. Though M apparently intends this as a term of praise, the “superman” carries echoes of the Nietzschean “Übermensch,” with its associations of Nazi Germany. Hence M may unconsciously be revealing Drax’s German affiliations. We recall Arbuthnot’s praise of the German villainess as “super-woman.” 16. One dystopian example of this anxiety is William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, published in 1954 (the year before Moonraker), famous for its Hobbesian portrait of boys stranded on an island. Having crash-landed on the island in the process of being evacuated, the boys Ralph and Piggy discuss the fate of their native Britain: Piggy asking, “Didn’t you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They’re all dead” (11). 17. As with Buchan’s villains, the eyes are the window to a villain’s inner deformity, and the overall effect of Drax is both disturbing and grotesque. 18. The implication of this reference to childhood is that Drax is a case of arrested development, possessing a basic immaturity that further undermines his status as a gentleman. 19. In Casino Royale, Vesper’s villainy is confessed in a letter—which she writes just prior to her suicide—in contrast to Le Chiffre’s more obvious hostility, played out over the card table as well as various direct attempts on Bond’s life. 20. The use of red hair as a trait of sinister behavior may go back to the Victorian sensation novel, but a contemporary example is the Lord of the Flies, in which the evil ringleader of the “savage” boys, Jack Merridew, has red hair. 21. Gray was the first of two actors to play a villain and an ally of Bond in different Bond films. The second was Joe Don Baker who played the villainous arms dealer Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights (1987) but reappeared as Bond’s ally the CIA agent Jack Wade in GoldenEye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Such doublings may reinforce the unstable boundary between friend and enemy in Bond franchise. 22. The announcement that the 24th official Bond film would be titled Spectre inevitably led to speculation that the character of Blofeld would make a return as villain. However, there is no indication in the cast list of the film that Blofeld will make an appearance.



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23. The dramatizing of an impeccable British identity as the cover for a nefarious foreign plot against the free world is again at the foreground of Brosnan’s last Bond film, Die Another Day—with the doubling of British hero Gustav Graves and North Korean saboteur Colonel Moon. 24. The code name Trevelyan/006 uses in dealing with his subordinates is “Alpha1”—but of course there is only room for one alpha in the Bond film and his number is 007! 25. The revenge of an agent against the spymaster is the culmination of the steadily increasing negativity of M’s role in the Bond films, particularly her relationship with Bond himself. In Die Another Day, M reluctantly exchanges Bond—who has been held and tortured in a North Korean prison—for a Chinese terrorist Xao, and informs Bond while he recovers that “you’re no use to anyone anymore.” At such moments, M is in danger of becoming the Bond villain. 26. Skyfall also replays certain elements from earlier spy thrillers, such as John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps. When he is faced with threat from the foreign villain, Bond—like Richard Hannay before him—takes refuge in the Highlands of Scotland, driving there in an antique sports car: in this case, the Aston Martin DB5 that Bond used in Goldfinger. Where Hannay enters the lair of the Black Stone on the Scottish moor, where he unwittingly takes refuge with the Bald Archeologist, Bond seeks the shelter of his old family home, Skyfall, still tended by the old retainer Kincaid. Yet, he knows that Silva will track him down to this place and that their final confrontation will take place there. 27. Atkins makes a further distinction between the anarchist novel and the conspiracy novel, though these categories also overlap with each other (42). Conrad’s The Secret Agent, which he deems an anarchist novel, could also be described as a conspiracy novel and a spy novel. Atkins’s tendency to categorize each of the works he discusses, leads to some problems in his analysis. He refers to “the pure spy novel is concerned with the passing of information and is therefore to be distinguished from conspiracy, which involves political action” (43). This would surely mean that le Carré and Deighton’s novels would have to be disqualified as spy novels. In many cases, the point of the spy novel is that the obtaining and passing of secret information is itself a form of political action. 28. Edward P. Comentale also notes this scene, however he derives a different meaning from it, focusing on how “the men eventually recognize that there are limits to their professional knowledge, and that they must put aside their inter-ministry testiness in order to solve the mystery” (“Fleming’s Company Man” 7). I am more struck by the admiration for the villain’s plot, even expressed by the British targets of it. 29. Among the most explicit recent treatments of this theme, one can site Daniel Silva’s The Rembrandt Affair (2010) in which the protagonist, Mossad agent Gabriel Allon, at first on the trail of a stolen Rembrandt painting, launches a mission to sabotage Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

Chapter 8

The Spymaster

I concluded the previous chapter by asserting that the villain of the spy novel, no less than the hero, may be a fragment of the author’s own identity and serve as his or her surrogate in the narrative. Yet there remains an important missing piece of the puzzle of spy fiction, not least because this piece provides the clue to the spy novel’s access to political authority and, indeed, official censure. When we consume or consider spy novels and films, we are most drawn by the protagonist: a cerebral or action-driven spy hero or heroine, stumbling into an adventure or recruited to espionage; engaging in exciting missions, flying to glamorous locations, indulging in fine food and wine, perhaps enjoying an active sex life with beautiful partners. The powerful fantasy and escapist element element of spy fiction may be one reason the spy novel is not always taken seriously. Citing David Holbrook, Toby Miller notes the critical objection that “there is something particularly immature and degrading about this form of commodified popular culture” which “exemplifies the psychic illness that sees people held at a stage of ‘infantile fantasies’ and ‘fears’” (Miller, Spyscreen, 144).1 Yet as though to balance and contain the fantasy-drive—whether infantile or otherwise—of the spy hero, we encounter the often-overlooked figure of the controller, the supervisor or director of the spy. As an overall term for this figure, I use the category “spymaster,” defined by OED simply as “the head of an organization of spies.” An alternative term is “controller,” referencing the OED’s definition of “control:” “a member of an intelligence organization who personally directs the activities of a spy.” However, the term spymaster has greater flexibility and a stronger sense of the authority of the role. As John Atkins points out the protagonists of many spy novels are not technically spies at all, but may be other kinds of intelligence agents (British Spy Novel, 128). However, the chief narrative function of the spymaster is not to serve as field 257

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agent or center of narrative interest. Rather, the spymaster’s role is to represent official authority, a reminder of the professional agent’s status within an official hierarchy, and of course a constant statement of accountability. Due to the spymaster’s undeniable official role, s/he would seem to belong to the era of the professional spy in fiction. One cannot imagine accidental spies such as Carruthers, Davies, or Hannay being hauled in through the leather-covered door of a Whitehall office to explain their actions to a bureaucrat or be assigned a new weapon by “Q.” And yet, the spymaster is a significant presence as early as Buchan’s spy novels, and in fact represents—in fictional terms—the transition from the amateur “everyman” to the trained and recruited specialist. Perhaps the earliest example of a fully fledged spymaster appears in Kim, in which the young Sahib, Kimball O’Hara, is initially recruited into the “Great Game” by Mahbub Ali, the Afghan horse dealer. Yet behind the boyish adventures of Kim and the crafty spy running of Mahbub, lurk the imperial consciousness and authority of Colonel Creighton, who emerges as Kim’s ultimate spymaster. Though Kipling’s masterpiece of espionage pre-dates the formation of the Secret Service in 1909, Creighton’s official function as the head of the great Ethnological Survey of India (Kim, 159)—a vast scientific project of exploration and classification of peoples and races—provides an ideal cover for the intelligence agent. Intriguingly, Edward Said has suggested a parallel between the role of Creighton as spymaster, and the role of Kipling as novelist: “If there is a consistent point of view to be ascribed to Kipling, it is in Creighton, more than anyone else, that it can be found. Like Kipling, Creighton respects the distinctions within Indian society” (35). This parallel extends to the role of each figure in directing the activities of the spy, evident in the way Creighton values Kim’s special skills (Said, 36). Hence, Said argues, “It is as if by holding Kim at the centre of the novel (just as Creighton the spymaster holds the boy in the Great Game) Kipling can have and enjoy India in a way that even imperialism never dreamed of” (36). Of course, the connotations of “enjoying” in this context include the pleasures of colonial mastery, to which both Kim’s “games” and Creighton’s “science” are ultimately subject. Said’s insight invites us to consider that the spymaster is a surrogate for the spy novelist, directing the story, controlling the plot (though behind the scenes), managing the agents, participating vicariously in their adventures, while keeping in mind the ultimate purpose: to produce a satisfactory closure to the mission. While the field agents (such as Kim) may enact the fantasy lives of their creators, the spymasters embody a reality principle, holding the agent to the task in hand and shouldering the responsibility, organization, and discipline required of the intelligence network. As the representative of official bureaucracy in the spy novel, the spymaster may appear a mundane and unromantic figure, compared to the field agent.



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Yet arguably this type of parent-cum-administrator was no less influential on the elaboration of the myth of empire and, indeed, of the Secret Service. As Andrew points out, spy fiction, starting with Kipling, played a role in disseminating a myth of imperial omnipotence by concealing evidence of Britain’s imperial weaknesses (Defence, 4). Kipling’s novel narrates the fundamental, almost seamless continuity between empire and espionage in the modern world. If the spy novel helped to sustain the myth of empire, then the spy novel’s spymaster was crucial to this role. While Kim highlights the role of the spymaster as the government recruiter and mentor for the spy, it also offers a more sinister reminder of the “disavowable” status of the agent of empire. A necessary offshoot of the “mythical” status of the Secret Service, the spy’s deniability is one of the less pleasant directives of the spymaster. In Kim this lesson is passed on not by Creighton but by one of Kim’s fellow agents, code-named E23, who has arrived from a place “beyond the Queen’s law” (248). When asked by Kim, the novice spy, “But cannot the Government protect?” E23’s answer is dismissive: “We of the Game are beyond protection. If we die, we die. Our names are blotted from the book. That is all.” (248). Employing, fittingly, a textual metaphor for the spy’s obliteration, Kipling anticipates a key role for the spymaster: a reminder of the spy’s vulnerability and mortality. This ambivalence towards the spymaster as a potential source of support but also of betrayal and abandonment is apparent in Buchan’s fiction. In the course of the The Thirty-Nine Steps, Hannay encounters Sir Walter Bullivant, who—unlike his initial recruiter Scudder—represents the government intelligence department, and who provides the hero with official authorization for his pursuit of the German spies. Yet Hannay’s first reaction is to feel intimidated by Bullivant’s position in the corridors of power: “The sight of him—so respectable and established and secure, the embodiment of law and government and all the conventions—took me aback and made me feel an interloper. He couldn’t know the truth about me, or he wouldn’t treat me like this” (91).2 Hannay is suspicious of Bullivant precisely because he appears to demand obedience and respect. It is telling encounter between the amateur—hotly pursued by Black Stone and the police, anxious to prove his innocence—and the intelligence professional. Yet even after his acceptance by Bullivant, Hannay is in no way subservient to the ministers of state. He follows his own instincts in pursuing the enemy spies, and it is he—rather than they—who realize that the secret Cabinet meeting has been penetrated by the Black Stone, and who returns to the situation room to “look … round at five badly scared gentlemen” (103). Bullivant’s role as spymaster is more apparent in the sequel, Greenmantle, where he recruits Hannay—recuperating from his military service, having fought at the Battle of Loos—to take on a difficult mission in the Middle

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East.3 In a crafty piece of manipulation, Bullivant uses the solitary, isolated position of the spy—so chillingly noted by E23—as an inducement to Hannay’s sense of adventure: “You are not afraid of danger? Well, in this job you would not be fighting with an army around you, but alone. You are fond of tackling difficulties? Well, I can give you a task which will try all your powers” (Greenmantle, 10, emphasis added). The attentive reader will note the skill of Bullivant’s appeal to Hannay, reassuring him that accepting this mission will not be avoiding military service. Of course, Hannay had concluded The Thirty-Nine Steps by observing that “I had done my best service … before I put on khaki (126) and Bullivant, as controller, exploits this proven affinity for spy work. In reminding Hannay that he will be “alone,” he deploys one of the chief hazards of the spy’s occupation as though it were an advantage. In the course of his adventures in the Middle East, Hannay will pose as a German spy, “a member of the Imperial Secret Service” who must “move in the dark” (96). As a result, his spymaster becomes Colonel Stumm himself, who gives Hannay a secret passport and advises him that his destination, “Egypt is a nest of our agents, who work peacefully under the nose of the English Secret Service” (80). In giving Hannay this role of double agent, Buchan draws attention to the dark secret of espionage: that the German spymaster works in much the same way as the British, and the two nations’ secret services closely resemble each other. Though Bullivant is undoubtedly an important landmark, the spymaster emerges as a fully fledged character in W. Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden, or the British Agent (1928), a fictional narrative based on the author’s intelligence activities in Russia during World War I. Maugham uses the single initial R for Ashenden’s controller, mimicking the use of C as the head of SIS, originally used for Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the first head of SIS, and then by his successors at the helm of SIS. The identity of this initial was a sensitive topic in SIS: a few years after Ashenden, the writer and former spy Compton Mackenzie would be prosecuted under the OSA, due to the fact that, in his memoir of his intelligence work Greek Memories (1932) he revealed that the head of SIS was identified as “C” (McCormick 128). More cautious than Mackenzie, Maugham avoided prosecution by “fictionalizing” the single initial identity for the head of Intelligence, and also disguising his own intelligence activities as a series of fictional adventures. Yet Ashenden is a professional writer, making the autobiographical connections between the character and his author apparent. Maugham’s novel is groundbreaking not only in its portrayal of the jaded professional spy, in contrast to the gentleman-amateur of his predecessors, but also in depicting the close, often strained relationship between the controller and his agent. Gone is the gentlemanly fraternity of Bullivant and Hannay, and even the spymaster’s attempt to appeal to the agent’s nobler



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impulses is absent. R’s role is more autocratic and coercive: it is he who assigns Ashenden his missions, and keeps tabs on him during the operation: in fact, Ashenden comes to believe that R has someone spying on him. R recruits Ashenden in a London safe house, where the spymaster’s appearance is described in unflattering detail: “They were hard and cruel eyes, and very wary; and they gave him a cunning, shifty look. He was a man that you could neither like nor trust at first sight” (18). The recruitment is quite straightforward as R asks Ashenden some questions before announcing his suitability for the secret service (18). There is a notable absence of any attempt to lure Ashenden by flattering his vanity. While Maugham did not attract official censure for his fictional account of Secret Service work, the unromantic portrayal of the tedious routine of the “British agent” brought other criticism. One reviewer, Orlo Williams, stated that “Ashenden was not a spy, but an agent, and nobody who read agents’ reports during the War will be surprised that his work was as dreary as these reports.” In Williams’s view, the results were “only moderately entertaining” (cited in Jeffery, 237–8). The distinction between “spy” and “agent” is itself an interesting one: despite the negative associations of espionage in the early twentieth century, by the 1920s it had become associated with glamor and romance. By contrast, the “agent” was a bureaucrat, a glorified pen pusher. As though reflecting dissatisfaction with this role, Ashenden imagines the spymaster as having a more exciting and entertaining time of it than the field agent: the spymaster sees the larger picture, whereas “it must be confessed that for the small fry like himself to be a member of the secret service was not as adventurous an affair as the public thought. Ashenden’s official existence was as orderly and monotonous as a City clerk’s (Maugham, 98–99). It is hard to imagine James Bond, for instance, entertaining such a self-deprecating scenario. Bond’s admiration for M notwithstanding, 007 never doubts that he himself is the most important figure in the intelligence mission.4 Nonetheless, the figure of the spymaster as a powerful and mysterious mandarin, moving his agents around the globe like chess pieces, has its origin in Ashenden. Despite Ashenden’s belief in the spymaster’s power, Maugham’s portrayal of R’s personality as his boss is often unflattering. R clearly does not trust his subordinates, as Ashenden discovers that there is someone spying on him, making sure he follows orders (Ashenden, 100). The reflection that follows is a mixture of admiration and mockery for his controller: “What a shrewd, unscrupulous old thing was R! He took no risks; he trusted nobody; he made use of instruments, but high or low, had no opinion of them” (100). When R gives Ashenden the assignment of pursuing the “Hairless Mexican,” there is a definite note of condescension, even alienation, between them: “They eyed one another in a detached manner, as though they were strangers who sat together in a railway carriage and each wondered who and what the other

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was” (58). The distrust between spymaster and spy is as pronounced here as it is between Control and Leamas in le Carré’s Spy Who, or between Harry Palmer and Dalby who insults his agent’s intelligence (Ipcress, 85). Despite his consonant-name being a prototype for the modern spymaster, R seems to belong in a Victorian adventure novel—perhaps something by Haggard or Kipling—as a derivative of Colonel Creighton rather than a modern spy adventure, and this suggestion of near-obsolescence is confirmed by his career in India (103). R treats his agents as subalterns, much as he might handle “native” subjects in the colonies. Significantly, one of R’s weaknesses is a lack of familiarity with women, who had little part in the masculine world of the military and the Intelligence Department: if “his work brought him into contact with brilliant, beautiful and distinguished women he was unduly dazzled” (103). The passage is reminiscent of Hannay’s admission that he knows nothing of women, which is prelude to his being spellbound by Hilda von Einem in Greenmantle. Yet Ashenden, by contrast, seems to gloat about his worldly ease in female company, and the mockery in his description of R is evident. R uses his agent’s sexual appeal, as well as his artist’s imagination, to extract information from female contacts, and Ashenden had numerous love affairs (one of which is amusingly chronicled in “Love and Russian Literature”). If one aspect of the modern spy’s identity is social and sexual ease with women, another is an air of being at home in elegant, luxurious surroundings, enjoying a level of urban, cosmopolitan sophistication that is epitomized in James Bond. Ashenden displays this quality far more than his predecessors in spy fiction, and here again he is contrasted with his spymaster R who talks too loudly to conceal his discomfort when in society (113). The novel suggests Ashenden’s disdainful attitude towards an imposter, a social parvenu. Maugham’s stories construct an idea of social rank that is at odds with the official hierarchy of the Secret Service. Ashenden’s ultimate snub of R is his observation that his boss is unfamiliar with the excesses of the upper classes and “was captivated by the vulgar glamour and the shoddy brilliance of the scene before him” (113). Even if R has the intellect to see the whole picture of an intelligence operation, and does not confide in his agent, Ashenden remains at the center of the narrative, the social superior of his spymaster. Despite being a peripheral figure in Ashenden, R is not only a clear fictional allusion to C as the head of the real Secret Service, but also the clearest precursor to the most famous controller in spy fiction, M from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. Just as Bond has eclipsed all other fictional spies in his global recognition, so M brought a new level of recognition and prestige to the role of spymaster, and became an essential ingredient of the Bond formula, in both novel and film versions. Due to the serial format of Bond’s adventures—with each novel building on, and sometimes referring back to,



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its predecessors—M’s appearances in the novels take on a ritualistic aspect, in which one can identify certain patterns in his role and function. Prominent among these is the spymaster as a kind of father figure to the at-times intractable agent. However, M also embodies the authority of the state and, more specifically, of Britain, whose representative James Bond is when “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” As is well known, Fleming based the character of M on the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey, whom he served under during World War II. It was Godfrey who selected Fleming as his assistant, and who gave the ambitious intelligence officer some of his most challenging assignments. According to Andrew Lycett, Room 39 (in which Fleming worked) “was also the ideas factory or, as Admiral Godfrey called it, coordinating section, for the most professional arm of British intelligence at the start of the war” (Ian Fleming, 102). The emphasis on the professionalism of NID is significant, for it becomes the hallmark of M’s role in the Bond novels and films: a constant reminder of Bond’s professional status. Among other missions, Fleming accompanied Godfrey on a trip to the US, in 1941, the purpose of which was to assist William J. Donovan in the creation of an American Intelligence organization, based largely on the SIS (Lycett, 120). This, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), was the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), officially founded after the war in 1947. The liaison with the Americans was William Stephenson who had been sent to run the British Passport Control Office in New York, the official cover for the Secret Service (Lycett, 120). As Lycett observes, the purpose of the mission was to develop collaboration between the secret services of Britain and the US (Lycett, 127). This important role helps to account for two of the distinctive features of the Bond novels and films. Firstly, Godfrey’s active role and frequent travels with Fleming anticipate M’s occasional but significant appearances “in the field,” emerging during Bond’s mission to provide further instructions and, if necessary, technological support to his agent.5 Secondly, the efforts of Godfrey and Fleming in building collaboration between British and American intelligence influenced Bond’s frequent collaboration with the CIA, specifically the US agent Felix Leiter, which reflected the “special relationship” between Britain and the US. Though M is not in command of Leiter, there is an assumption that there will be a close working relationship between Bond and the CIA agent. As Moran notes, the CIA saw popular culture as a key battleground in the Cold War (“Ian Fleming,” 119), and spy fiction would play a key role in this struggle.6 In particular, Fleming’s friendship with Allen Dulles, the head of the CIA, was a factor in “a conspicuously deferential treatment of the agency” in the later Bond novels (Moran, 123). Of course, this does not mean that the CIA is portrayed as the equal of SIS in intelligence matters: as Bennett and Woollacott note, “Bond protects American interests

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in a manner which is more than slightly contemptuous of American abilities to do the same. Bond … shares friendship with the CIA in the person of Felix Leiter but effortlessly outdoes him in every sphere from spying to sex” (Bond and Beyond, 156). Recalling that Fleming’s father Valentine was killed in action in World War I, when Fleming was only eight years old, we can recognize in some of his relationships with older mentors—such as Godfrey and Dulles—a search for a father figure. Similarly, in Bond’s relationship with M there are traces of the masochism that leads Bond to submit to the father figure, marked by sporadic resentment. Bond, we know, is an orphan, and this absence in parenting makes M an obvious surrogate (You Only, 200). As Eco has argued, “Bond-M is a dominated-dominant relationship which characterizes from the beginning the limits and possibilities of the character of Bond and which sets events moving” (“Narrative Structures,” 147). M appears something of a disciplinarian, a Victorian authoritarian figure who disapproves of Bond’s womanizing and fast living. M’s role includes issuing Bond with his license to kill, and his gun, but he also has the power to withdraw it should 007 defy his orders. Bennett and Woollacott identify this power as a constant threat of castration, in which Bond—the son—can never feel secure in possession of the phallic authority that M bestows (Bond and Beyond, 132–3). It is important to remember, however, that M is ultimately an empowering figure for Bond: “Everything begins and ends with M: he sets Bond off on his mission and is the point to which, at the end of the novel … Bond again refers himself. Sent forth against a target of M’s choosing, Bond furthermore derives his power and authority— his ‘licence to kill,’ and his gun—from M” (Bennett and Woollacott 132). Perhaps Bond’s strongest emotion toward M, therefore, is gratitude. It is M, after all, who gives Bond the ‘00’ status that allows him to go on the most challenging, dangerous missions; and who rescues Bond from the unbearable tedium of office routine, by finding him a new assignment. In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond has been called to M’s office: “Bond thought with pleasure of the in-tray piled with Top Secret dockets he had gladly abandoned when the red telephone had summoned him an hour before. He felt fairly confident that now he wouldn’t have to deal with them” (Diamonds, 13). From the opening novel, Casino Royale, it is clear that Bond views M with affection and admiration, far more so than Ashenden does R. Like Bond, M’s has served in the Royal Navy, where he has reached the rank of Admiral, and this forms part of the bond between them. (Bond is a Commander in the Navy.)7 While he sometimes resents M’s instructions and reprimands, Bond accepts M’s authority because it is based on his own experiences in the field. When M assigns another agent to work with him in Casino Royale, Bond is resentful: “Bond would have preferred to work



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alone, but one didn’t argue with M” (20). And of course, when Vesper turns out to have been a Soviet double agent, Bond blames himself for failing to detect her treachery, but does not hold M accountable for assigning her to him in the first place. If the spymaster provides the spy with his phallic power—the mission, the license, the gun—he is also able to exploit that phallic power by asking Bond to in effect use his penis as a weapon. As Toby Miller argues, “the gun as phallus is encoded in the textuality of Bond” (Spyscreen, 140) but so too is the phallus-as-gun, as Bond’s secret weapon.8 M’s intrusions into what we might consider Bond’s private life make Maugham’s R seem like a prudish scoutmaster. In FRWL he asks Bond nosy questions about his sexual relationship with Tiffany Case, the diamond smuggler in Diamonds Are Forever (the previous Bond novel) (104). When Bond, for whom the separation from Tiffany had been very painful, tells M that the affair is over, the spymaster appears to relish the news (98). Moreover M condones to an extent Bond’s philandering, as he does not want him tied to one woman (105). In this case, the mission M gives to Bond will exploit Bond’s very powers of sexual attraction that the spymaster claims to look askance at. A female Soviet agent in Istanbul, Tatiana Romanova, wishes to defect to the West and offers a Spektor decoding machine as bait to lure the British. Her only condition is that Bond—whose picture she has seen, causing her to fall in love with the British spy–must go out to Istanbul to arrange her defection. Curiously, despite the obvious absurdity of this proposal, both M and Bond decide to go along with the offer. M goes onto rationalize the Russian woman’s suspiciously sudden infatuation by comparing Bond to a famous film star (107). In the film version, both Bond and M are more wary: 007 suggesting “it might be a trap” while M agrees, “well obviously it’s a trap” (From Russia). In response to Bond’s concern about whether he will live up to Romanova’s expectations, M replies, “It’s up to you to see that you do come up to her expectations” (111). M is obviously using Bond’s sexual appeal to women, encouraging him to prostitute himself for Queen and country, and Bond realizes he is “pimping for England” (115). But it is actually M who is the pimp, as well as the voyeur—setting up a scenario in which Bond’s sexual life will be on display. While it is Rosa Klebb who orchestrates the filming of Bond having sex with Tatiana in Bond’s hotel bedroom (186) it is M who—having ironically compared Bond to a film star—might as well be with her in the secret film set (186). M is a reminder of Bond’s duty to a national secret service. Bennett and Woollacott argue that “M is a potent representative of England … an ex-Admiral embodying strength of England’s naval traditions” (Bond and Beyond, 106). Further, M is Bond’s point of contact with the government and “beyond the Prime Minister, the monarchy itself, the supreme and absolute

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embodiment of Englishness” (106). M appoints himself to the role of policing Bond’s sexual relationships in order to protect the borders of his national identity. A key part of M’s role then is “the point around which there cluster all those references to England’s greatness, the virtues of tradition and duty, and the strengths of the national character” (Bennett and Woollacott, 131). As such, M is opposed to the foreignness of the villain, against whom he will assign Bond to work. Perhaps reflecting the more general questioning of official authority and institutional power in the 1960s, the Bond novels and films begin to portray the spymaster in a less positive light. This is more evident in the films, in which Bond seems to compete with M in various areas of knowledge, such as cognac (Goldfinger), sherry (Diamonds), and lepidoptery (OHMSS), asserting his own superior expertise. Bennett and Woollacott note the transformation in M’s portrayal in the films as suggesting “a distinct mockery of M’s views as in some essential respects, notably those concerned with sensuality, outdated” (157). At times Bernard Lee’s M plays up this role as a stuffy authoritarian barrier to excitement and adventure, preventing Bond from following his instincts and reining in his desire for personal revenge: reminding Bond on one occasion in Goldfinger, “This is not a personal vendetta, 007. If you can’t carry out this mission coldly and objectively, then 008 can replace you.” (Goldfinger) He will remind Bond on numerous occasions that he is dispensable: that his number represents merely one agent in a series, rather than a unique irreplaceable status. At such times, the spymaster seems to be a brake on the initiative of the professional agent, something the gifted amateurs of a previous age were free from. Richard Hannay has no one to consult but his own conscience, before deciding to take up the unfinished mission of Franklin P. Scudder and take on the Black Stone and even in Greenmantle has a relatively free hand once he has left Britain. M offers occasional timely reminders of Bond’s limitations, calling into question his knowledge and expertise in world affairs: as Eco observes, M possesses the global view of events that Bond lacks (“Narrative Structures,” 147). However, to view the professional spymaster as merely a negative function of restraint and oppressive authority is to misunderstand his significance. Not only is he the gateway to a challenging and exciting mission, but M is also the guarantor of a mission’s legitimacy, providing confirmation that Bond is not merely following his aggressive instincts but is serving some wider national purpose. This is not to say that M makes Bond into a team player: despite his collaborations with other British agents and foreign counterparts, Bond is and remains a solo agent, self-reliant and even territorial in the course of his mission. In fact, M’s awareness of and ability to anticipate the wider implications of espionage, frees Bond himself from having to do so. This may be the most



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important function of M as controller: to authorize Bond to act with deadly violence—which involves violating central taboos of civilized society— while easing the conscience of the reader (or viewer) that there is a purpose of national importance at stake to justify the body count. M releases Bond from the obligation to think through the ethical implications of the entire mission.9 Besides serving as a surrogate father, M also represents a homosocial camaraderie, which has echoes of the British imperial era, and that serves as a conduit to other male relationships in the story. Moneypenny, though always present as a kind of sentinel just outside M’s door, is firmly excluded from M’s inner sanctum, which remains an exclusively male space. On the occasions when M brings Bond to an official function—such as a dinner at the Bank of England, in Goldfinger—no women are present.10 M’s support authorizes Bond’s subsequent male relationships ensuring that while they demonstrate affection, they do not slip into more overt forms of same-sex desire. Or do they? Bond’s feelings for Darko Kerim strike us as erotic, as he unabashedly admires the man “at least two inches taller and … gave the impression of being twice as broad and twice as thick as Bond” (FRWL, 124). Yet Bond’s relationship with Kerim is authorized by M, who declares the head of T station “one of the best men we’ve got” (106). Fleming’s innovative achievement in the Bond novels is to blend these trappings of imperial power, male camaraderie, and self-consciously patrician status with the more modern (i.e., post-World War II) forms of technology, luxury, and sexual license. Having passed through the retro-Victorian space of male hierarchy and authority, presided over by M, Bond is now liberated to operate in a very different world, of ruthless villains, seductive and sexually available women, and potent weaponry. In the course of the Bond novels, there are numerous occurrences of tension and conflict between M, the controller, and Bond, the agent. The worst crisis between the two occurs at the beginning of OHMSS—the eleventh Bond novel, published in 1963—in which Bond writes a letter of resignation to M. The cause of Bond’s frustration is his belief that Blofeld is dead and that his pursuit of him is therefore futile (OHMSS, 11). We have never seen Bond in such an active state of rebellion before.11 Of course, before he can send the letter he discovers that Blofeld is indeed alive, and planning a new monstrous plot to inflict mass infertility on Britain.12 Bond goes to Blofeld’s research facility atop a Swiss Alps, impersonating Sir Hilary Bray—of London’s College of Heraldry—and learns of the villain’s fiendish plot to sterilize Britain’s agricultural production.13 Yet after M has declared the mission is over, Bond takes unilateral action, recruiting the assistance of Tracy’s father to pursue and destroy Blofeld in his lair. This pursuit of his own vendetta—without M’s authorization—proves disastrous for Bond, as Blofeld survives the assault and arranges the assassination of Bond and his new wife as they leave for their

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honeymoon. Bond survives, however, Tracy does not. This episode provides an apt example of how M’s cautious and circumspect approach to a mission—his willingness to cut his losses in order to protect his field agents—is vindicated. Bond’s reckless instincts and defiance of authority make for compelling adventure, but they often backfire or miscarry, jeopardizing both the mission and Bond’s life and those unfortunately in the vicinity. One could go further, and argue that in Fleming’s novels Bond himself is represented as “no more than a licensed killer with no mission but to destroy” (Rimington, xii). Bond is only effective because he is “programmed” (in Eco’s term), wielded, and controlled by a master strategist and brilliant spymaster. Fleming’s admiration for—and perhaps identification with— M is evident, even though it is 007 who captures the public interest and engages the reader’s fantasy. Perhaps Bond does embody various fantasies of Ian Fleming—his courage, skill at combat, and potency with women—yet the narratives also reveal a detached skepticism towards Bond’s impulsive behavior, most often articulated by M, the rational intellect who recognizes the limitations of his agent.14 Like a hopeful yet resigned father with a headstrong son, M knows when to encourage Bond’s urgent need for action and when to rein it in. It is M, rather than Bond, who is the true master of British intelligence.15 There is a subtle but significant change in M’s portrayal in the film versions. As played by British actor Bernard Lee, the character recalls some of the chirpy friendliness of Sergeant Paine (Lee’s character in Carol Reed’s The Third Man) as much as the stern Victorian paterfamilias. Some of M’s more pompous and hectoring tendencies are transferred in the films to “Q,” (Desmond Llewelyn) who threatens to bore Bond with long lectures about the gadgets, vehicles, and weapons he is about to provide. In the novels, M tends to lecture Bond about technical aspects of the mission: for example, in Diamonds Are Forever, “for the next quarter of an hour M led him through the whole range of diamonds down to a wonderful series of coloured stones, ruby red, blue, pink, yellow, green and violet… . ‘They’re the hardest substance in the world. Last forever.’ M pulled out his pipe and started to fill it. ‘And now you know as much about diamonds as I do’” (Diamonds, 12). In the films, however, M’s expertise is transferred to Bond himself, who reveals superior knowledge about the defects of a brandy in Goldfinger, before M then evidently takes pleasure in thwarting Bond’s impulse to pick up the precious gold ingot that Colonel Smithers has placed on the table, instructing him “You’ll pick it up from Q branch with the rest of your equipment” (Goldfinger). Eco observes M’s power to make Bond “against his will … visit a doctor, to undergo a nature cure (Thunderball), to change his gun (Dr No)” and claims such coercion “makes so much the more insidious and imperious his



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chief’s authority” (“Narrative,” 148). Eco seems to overlook that the nature cure is to benefit Bond’s health, and the new weapons are to ensure his safety: M apologizes for making Bond change his weapon, but notes “I can’t afford to gamble with the double-O section. They’ve got to be properly equipped” (Dr No, 21). Even when M is most irritated or critical of Bond, we never doubt that he has his agent’s safety and security at heart. He will not place Bond in unnecessary risks, and will try to prevent his protégé from placing his head in the lion’s mouth. This recognition of M’s protective role is all the more important, because one of the most fundamental changes that we see in the spy novel postFleming, is the erosion of the relationship of trust between spymaster and spy. In the work of John le Carré, for example, the spy becomes less a valued professional agent than an expendable pawn in a game of chess of which only the spymasters know the rules, and can see the board. This recognition of the spy’s expendability may recall Kipling and Conrad, but in the postwar era it marks a transformation of the role of spymaster, introducing a breakdown of the affection and paternalism that defines the relationship of M and Bond. Significantly, this betrayal typically goes only one way: the spy, though he may be critical of his controller, remains loyal to him.16 Leamas, in Spy Who, views Control (le Carré’s term for the head of SIS) as a fussy academic type with little grasp of life in the field. Yet he goes along with Control’s scheme to carry out a fake defection, believing its purpose is to destroy his enemy Hans Dieter Mundt. In fact, Control exploits Leamas’s personal animosity to Mundt to embroil him in a far more Machiavellian scheme. Control simulates a concern for Leamas’s wellbeing—“‘We have to live without sympathy, don’t we? That’s impossible of course. … I mean … one can’t be out in the cold all the time; one has to come in from the cold … d’you see what I mean?’” (Spy Who, 14). Almost certainly Leamas does not see what Control means: the spymaster offers to assuage Leamas’s emotional isolation, but actually plans to send him into the cold permanently. Of course the obvious question to ask of le Carré’s protagonist, Leamas, is why he does not suspect that he is being used by Control? Why would an experienced, hard-bitten, cynical field agent such as Alec not smell a rat and realize—as he develops his legend as a down-and-out, drunken reject of the Secret Service, beating up a grocer and doing jail time—that he is being used as a sacrificial lamb? The most credible answer to this question is that the hierarchy of the Secret Service is so ingrained into its agents that they cannot function without some faith in their superiors. In effect, Leamas is part of a power structure from which he benefits as well as suffers. Like the military establishment of which it was originally a part, SIS is a highly hierarchical organization based on a belief in loyalty and obedience, so that even Leamas will unthinkingly follow orders. The difference in le Carré is that he shows

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how profoundly this trust in authority is misplaced, and the fatal consequences of trusting in Control. Ultimately, Leamas fails to look past his own desire—for a meaningful mission in which he is a knowing agent—in order to deduce the truth behind Control’s deception. Leamas’s chief pride is in his knowledge of operations: as he tells Peters it would have been impossible to run a high level agent in East Germany without his knowledge (84). Even if this stubborn insistence on his own knowledge is part of his act, it is also an aspect of Leamas’s character. His fatal flaw is an overestimation of his own importance in the Circus. In the 1970s, le Carré also turned his attention to the breakdown of the power structure in the Circus. There may be some poetic justice to the fact that Control—who had sacrificed Leamas to protect his own double agent, Mundt—has been destroyed by the presence of a Soviet mole in his own organization.17 In fact, Control’s decline is related in flashback, showing the failure of his attempt to track down the mole. We see Control become convinced of the presence of a traitor in the Circus, and grow increasingly paranoid about betrayals in his own organization. The reader is filled in by Roddy Martindale, an acquaintance who Smiley reluctantly has dinner with, that he and Control had no secrets from each other (Tinker, 21). This discourse alerts us to the fact that Smiley was Control’s likely successor as Chief, but has now been forced into the cold. Martindale’s suggestion of a conspiracy theory—that Control is not really dead but has gone into hiding in South Africa—is rejected by Smiley, showing his more realistic knowledge of his boss (22). Despite Smiley’s knowledge and loyalty, he cannot deny that Control had in fact lost command of his own organization. Control is a poignant portrait of the spymaster in decline, as well as a symbol of Britain’s declining status in the world, eaten away by doubt and failure to prevent the penetration of the Secret Service by the enemy. Control’s incompetence is in sharp contrast with Karla, his Soviet counterpart in Moscow Centre, a shadowy figure who always seems to be one step ahead. Following the chess analogy used by le Carré throughout the trilogy, Karla is the grandmaster while Control seems like a bumbling amateur.18 Smiley is, however, a worthy adversary to Karla, and this is played out in each of the novels in the Karla Trilogy. Yet Smiley learns that Haydon’s relationship with Karla, as with Ann, has been much more intimate than his own: culminating in the revelation that Haydon was a dedicated Soviet mole in the Circus (Tinker, 369).19 Karla’s character and role can be considered the fictional answer to a question le Carré asked about Kim Philby and the other Cambridge spies. Comparing the Philby case to “a great novel, and an unfinished one at that” (Introduction, Philby, 1), le Carré suggests “that even the principal character is still missing. In the lives of Burgess, Maclean and Philby we discern



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his hand, his influence, his shadow: never once do we see his face or consciously hear his name. He is the Soviet recruiter… . Who serviced them, paid them? Who kept them in play and taught them the clandestine arts?” (2). His Soviet spymaster, Karla, is the imagined answer to these questions, an attempt to provide the “missing character” and so complete the story of Philby. In fact, as we now know, the Soviet recruiter of Philby was Arnold Deutsch, codenamed Otto (Andrew, Defence, 170). The success of the Soviet intelligence in penetrating the higher echelons of British government can be attributed not only to the brilliance of Deutsch and his colleagues, but to the laxness in British security: Andrew notes that the Soviets possessed detailed knowledge of British intelligence policy (Andrew, Defence, 174). There is perhaps something anticlimactic about the revelation of the recruiter of the Cambridge spies as a specific, embodied historical person rather than the shadowy, elusive figure imagined by le Carré. Yet it is clear that Deutsch possessed a compelling and attractive personality, capable of winning over the most brilliant minds of their generation. As Ben Macintyre writes, “Philby was bonded ideologically and emotionally, to his charismatic Soviet controller. ‘I sometimes felt we had been friends since childhood,’ he wrote. ‘I was certain that my life and myself interested him not so much professionally as on a human level.’ The fatal conceit of most spies is to believe that they are loved, in a relationship between equals, and not merely manipulated” (A Spy Among Friends, 42). Le Carré is successful in filling out some of the details of the (then) mysterious Soviet spymaster, while maintaining him as an enigmatic figure. The transformation of the spymaster from an admired, patriarchal authority figure to a more sinister figure is also evident in Len Deighton’s “Harry Palmer” novels.20 Palmer’s two controllers in The Ipcress File—Colonel Ross and Major Dalby—are both ex-military men with assumptions of social and educational superiority that grate on Palmer’s working-class sensibility. Their prestige is diminished by the fact that they are viewed explicitly through Palmer’s eyes, in the first-person narrative constructed by Deighton. Through this cynical and antiestablishment perspective, the spymasters are stripped of the kind of mystique and charisma that M enjoys in Fleming’s novels. In mocking his own lack of a traditional formal education Palmer indirectly mocks the upper-class background of Ross and Dalby, and questions its relevance to the action of the field. However, there are expressions of outright praise of Dalby, contrasting him with the other upper echelon of government. Even after discovering the “brand new short pattern seven-inch cathode ray tube” (205) that Dalby—not knowing he was being spied on by Jean—has hidden in a hut on Tokwe Atoll, Palmer seems reluctant to suspect his boss of treason (Ipcress, 211). Dalby, of course, proves to be a traitor working

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for the Soviet Union, who thwarts Palmer’s investigation into Ipcress and reveals details of a US Neutron Bomb test in Tokwe Atol to the Soviets.21 Dalby thus knows about, indeed arranges, Palmer’s imprisonment and torture in the house in Wood Green. Yet despite his insubordinate, antiestablishment attitude, Palmer is deeply shocked at discovering Dalby’s treason (Ipcress, 283). In this manner, Deighton conveys the shock effect of the Burgess and Maclean defections, but such surprise would become far less likely following Kim Philby’s defection in 1963. Palmer’s reaction also reveals something about his unconscious personality: his insubordinate behavior is a screen for an authoritarian personality that wants to place trust in leaders, and to obey their commands. We recall that his entire narration is framed as an act of obedience to the Minister who requests clarification of the file (2). At the end of Ipcress, we learn that there remains a highly placed collaborator of Dalby’s—whose code name is “Henry”—in the British government. Palmer offends an Eminent Military Personage by suggesting that there will be a cover up of this traitor’s identity (Ipcress, 317). Yet even while suggesting that there are still highly placed traitors at large, Palmer cannot conceal his own complicity in the desire to protect the reputations of those—such as Dalby—who have betrayed their country. Ipcress is one of the first occurrences in British spy fiction where a spymaster is himself a traitor. In later spy fiction, however, the spymaster as a potential double agent would become a familiar figure.22 In the later “Harry Palmer” novels, Palmer’s boss has changed from Dalby to Dawlish, yet the acrimony and tension remain the same. In Funeral in Berlin, Palmer describes Dawlish, his boss, as “around fifty, slim and meticulous like a wellbred boa-constrictor. He moved with languid English grace across the room” (Funeral, 16). The tension between spymaster and agent, in these examples from Deighton’s novels, derives from the different positions they occupy in the intelligence hierarchy, from opposing temperaments, and—perhaps most important—from disparities in class background and social status. In Funeral, the traitor is Robin J. Hallam, an employee of the Secret Service who assumes some of the mannerisms of the well-bred—instructing the narrator on how to take his Darjeeling tea (Funeral, 3)—but actually lives in a cramped basement flat where he can’t afford to pay for electricity. Like Chico in Ipcress, Hallam is portrayed as pretentious and foolish, and a potential security leak.23 The class disparity between spy and spymaster had become customary by the 1960s. What difference does it make when we add, to this range of social disparities, the important factor of sexual difference between spy and spymaster? Until recently, this question has been easier to answer in the case of the female spy with a male controller, than in the case of the male spy and female spymaster. In 1992, Stella Rimington was the first female Director General of MI5, and she was followed a decade later by Eliza Manningham-Buller



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who served as DG from 2002–2007. By contrast MI6 (SIS) has never had a female “C,” (the name taken from the original Chief, Sir Mansfield Cumming who signed himself C [SIS Website]). However, there have been significant examples in spy fiction where a male spymaster and a female agent become romantically and sexually involved. Where M uses Bond as a bait in a reverse honey-trap, the male spymasters use their own sexual allure to seduce and manipulate their female spies. Le Carré has cited The Little Drummer Girl (1983) as evidence that he has not been preoccupied exclusively with the European Cold War in his fiction. Stating that in this novel, set in the Middle East, “the Cold War is a distant abstraction at best” (“Introduction,” xiii) le Carré implicitly separates the spymaster figure from his portrayals of Smiley, Karla, and Control. This is not the only way in which the novel departs from le Carré’s tales of professional espionage, for in some ways this novel returns to the premise of the early “accidental spy” novels such as Riddle of the Sands and The ThirtyNine Steps. A young, middle-class protagonist is at a loose end, drifting in a profession without much distinction and lacking purpose or commitment. Due to the intervention of another, more focused and committed character, the protagonist is drawn into intelligence work and is rejuvenated and transformed by the experience. The protagonist goes onto play a key role in a major intelligence operation, working undercover for much of the time, and discovers skills that were previously unrecognized. The plot reflects the kind of rejuvenation and reenergizing of the middle-class hero by espionage that has been traced by critics such as David Trotter. There are two important differences between le Carré’s novel and its precursors, however. Firstly, Charlie—the neophyte in question—is a young female actress rather than a male Civil Servant or engineer. Secondly, the intelligence operation in which she becomes involved is not in defense of Britain—the “home country” for characters such as Carruthers and Hannay—but Israel. Charlie is recruited as an agent not by SIS, but by Mossad. The lack of a direct national, colonial, or ethnic tie between the protagonist and the intelligence organization she works for, presents le Carré with his greatest challenge in this narrative. For Charlie is neither Israeli nor Jewish, but a middle-class young Englishwoman from London, and yet she takes on a mission as a double agent for Mossad working to undermine a Palestinian terrorist plot. This mission involves a complex, intense training process and will place her in situations where her life is at risk. The obvious question in any reader’s mind, is why would she take this extreme risk in the service of a foreign spy agency? The first answer that leaps to mind is money: as we know that the female spy, exemplified by Mata Hari, is stereotypically a mercenary, using her sexual attractiveness to seduce those with access to classified information and

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then selling the secrets that she obtains to a rival power. Hitchcock’s Annabella Smith, the foreign agent who recruits Hannay in The Thirty-Nine Steps, says she works for whoever pays her: she works for England “not because I love the country, but because it pays me better” (The Thirty-Nine Steps). The prototype of the female spy, unlike the male, is not motivated by a patriotic duty or loyalty to a “Mother country”—Hannay comes from South Africa (this country of origin is changed to Canada in the film version), and yet serves Britain as a colonial subject—but by mercenary self-interest. Certainly Charlie is offered substantial payment by Mossad for her services: at several points in the novel, when under great stress, she is offered the option by Martin Kurtz (the head of Israeli Intelligence) to walk away from the operation and take up a new identity in a foreign country, with enough money to live comfortably on. If she is successful in her mission to lead Mossad to Khalil, the kingpin of the Palestinian terrorist plot against the “Zionists,” she will be richly rewarded. They offer her a promise of a better life: “We straighten you out, we give you a sack of money, we keep in touch with you, make sure you are not incautious in any way, and as soon as it’s safe we help you to resume your career and friendships” (Little Drummer, 121). And yet Charlie does not strike the reader as a mercenary, but appears to be driven by more complex motives. On closer analysis, there are three main factors that account for Charlie’s agreement to be recruited as a Mossad double agent. Firstly, the Mossad mission appeals to a residual idealism in Charlie: though outwardly worldly and cynical, she has a history of involvement in radical political causes (which is one of the reasons Mossad pursued her in the first place, having investigated her background). Charlie’s personal history—in rebellion against a complacent bourgeois suburban family—and some of her utterances, reveal a strong sense of social justice, as well as a willingness to take violent direct action in support of her causes. In one of the novel’s most powerful scenes, during her initial interrogation by Mossad (Joseph), Charlie’s deceptive (perhaps self-deluded) narrative about her father being sent to prison for embezzlement and her commitment to peaceful means for political change is ruthlessly dismantled by her Israeli handlers. The doubts about the veracity of Charlie’s story of her background have been raised earlier in the novel (84). Charlie is pushed close to a breakdown by this exposure of her lies, as Mossad displays an uncannily accurate knowledge of her actual history. This includes her participation in training seminars for violent action, and attendance at talks by known Arab terrorists. Paradoxically, Charlie’s involvement with Palestinian terrorism does not deter Mossad from recruiting her: in fact, it conforms very well with the cover story or legend they will construct for her: that she has been involved in an emotionally and sexually intense relationship with Salim, Khalil’s younger brother, and is committed to the anti-Zionist cause. Moreover, her lying about her background is also taken as a recommendation:



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Kurtz states “Tonight she lies for herself, tomorrow she lies for us. Do we want an angel suddenly?” (129). Mossad’s chief obstacle is in convincing Charlie that their cause, rather than that of the Palestinians, is just. The Mossad agents realize that Charlie has a prejudice against the Israelis, based on her involvement with Palestinian terrorists, but nonetheless appeal to her political idealism. They argue that Charlie has misunderstood the situation, and that thousands of innocent Israelis, as well as others, will die if the plot is not averted. This may be why Hepburn describes the heroine as “pliable Charlie” (Intrigue, 139), but this scarcely does justice to the complexity of her character. Charlie’s second motivation is her desire for the opportunity to take on the most challenging, complex, and rewarding acting role of her life. Le Carré raises the association between the female spy and theatricality to a new level, having Charlie’s career as a stage performer already established before the spy plot. Yet, as the narrative makes clear, her career has been mediocre, and is now floundering, consisting of provincial tours and occasional London performances at fringe theaters. She is overshadowed by her domineering boyfriend, Alistair, whose own acting ambitions, apparently realized, are actually part of Mossad’s plot. Charlie has talent as an actress, but it is not fully utilized until the Greek trip, when Charlie’s recruitment is initiated by “Joseph.” It is the professional challenge of becoming a double agent—of maintaining her legend as the lover of a Palestinian terrorist while actually working for Mossad to penetrate the terrorist network—that drives Charlie to accept her recruitment. As an actress, it will become her greatest performance, and she is frequently compared by her handlers to major stars such as Greta Garbo.24 Joseph, the Mossad agent who recruits her, congratulates her as she creates her legend as the lover of Michel, the Palestinian terrorist: in Salzburg, she has convinced Rossino and Helga, his female partner, that she is indeed Michel’s lover, and asks for Joseph’s praise for this achievement: “I did well, didn’t I, Jose? I did really well, say it” (Drummer Girl, 257). As an actress, Charlie’s greatest need is for approval from an audience: in this case, the approval of her handler. Later on the trip, Joseph offers praise more spontaneously, “Charlie, it’s a triumph; Marty says you are a star, and that you have presented him with a whole new cast of characters… . Better than Garbo, he says. There is nothing we can’t achieve together, he says” (259). Le Carré exploits the theatrical metaphor continuously in Little Drummer Girl, making clear the analogy between the espionage operation and the stage production. The insecurities of the actress are paralleled with the uncertainties of the spy, unsure of how convincing her performance is. Calling Charlie’s performance “a triumph,” Joseph reminds her that she is constantly on stage, playing a role in which success—being convincing in the role—is a matter of life and death.

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Charlie’s recruitment was completed during a tour in the provinces, in which she frequently noticed a mysterious man in a red blazer, sitting in the front row of the audience. This, it turned out, was Joseph, though by attending Charlie’s performances he was laying the foundations of her fictional relationship with Michel, which also involved him appearing in the audience. In a dizzying sleight of hand, Joseph is transformed from Charlie’s audience to her stage manager, arranging the details of her performance as a Palestinian sympathizer. Yet Charlie’s role remains consistent, as she is always in the spotlight. Even when she is helping to plant the bomb on Professor Minkel—the peace-loving public speaker who is the target of Khalil’s assassination attempt—she refers to “the sheer badness of his performance” (426) as though Minkel himself were an actor, and notes that he speaks with “the thickest German accent she had ever heard off stage” (426). Having successfully distracted him while Rossino steals Minkel’s briefcase, Charlie again demands praise for her performance, “I was incredible, Helg! You should have seen me—Jesus!” (427). Whether she is performing the role as Michel’s lover, or as the Mossad agent, Charlie is always acting, and it is this need to play a role—and to be applauded for it—that drives her espionage. By foregrounding the thespian dimension of espionage, especially featuring a female agent, le Carré returns to the theatrical origins of the Mata Hari figure. Charlie is also sexually active, even promiscuous, and her performance as an agent is also linked to this sexuality. Part of what makes her credible to Khalil as the lover of Michel, is her sexual history and she ends up becoming Khalil’s lover as well.25 In this context, it is not surprising that the chief motive for Charlie in agreeing to work for the Mossad is a romantic, sexual one, but that also appeals to her sense of political justice. She falls in love with Joseph, the Mossad agent who recruits her and who doubles as “Michel” (a code name for Khalil’s younger brother Salim) in the elaborate plot to deceive the Palestinians that Charlie is Salim’s lover. From his first appearances in the audience of Charlie’s play, she shows an urgent need for Joseph’s approval and affection. Charlie’s sympathy with the Palestinian cause is in conflict with her love for Joseph, and places her under tremendous emotional stress. Her mission—pretending to place the bomb at a lecture given by the moderate Israeli professor—results in Khalil’s death. Charlie, however, has reached breaking point, and has a mental breakdown. She is ultimately saved by Joseph, who reappears in England. The conclusion of the novel makes clear her dependence on Joseph for emotional support: “I’m dead, she kept saying, I’m dead, I’m dead. But it seemed that he wanted her dead or alive. Locked together, they set off awkwardly along the pavement, though the town was strange to them” (Little Drummer Girl, 473). As with Alicia Huberman in Hitchcock’s Notorious, Charlie will ultimately be rescued by her male controller, with whom she is romantically involved.



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In this way, to use Bold’s formulation, “the agency lost by women at the level of manifest narrative commentary is recovered by a strategy which positions women centrally within the formation of national identity” (176). In Charlie’s case, this involves a shift of national identification to Israel, whose war against Palestinian terrorism she enlists in. Joseph, of course, is also a field agent, and is clearly outranked by others in Mossad, those organizing the whole operation against the Palestinian terrorists. This is an interesting case where the controller and field agent are combined, however Joseph is used to seduce and recruit Charlie, beginning with their meeting on a Greek island, and his role as a controller remains important. He continues to run Charlie’s espionage mission, giving her instructions, and her feelings for Joseph are a major part of her motivation to take on the role. Therefore he may be considered Charlie’s spymaster—the senior agent with whom she has the closest contact. A significant twenty-first-century example of the crucial role of a sexual relationship between controller and spy, is developed in William Boyd’s Restless (2006), set partly during World War II and partly in the 1970s. In the World War II story, a Russian woman, Eva Delectorskaya, is approached by a stranger after the funeral of her brother, Kolia. This stranger turns out to be Lucas Romer who works for SIS and recruits Eva as an intelligence agent for the British. Following an extensive period of training at Lyne Manor— where she learns “Romer’s rules,” the tradecraft practiced and advocated by her recruiter—Eva takes on various key assignments in the British War effort. She is present at the Prenslo Incident in Holland, where a British intelligence operation goes disastrously wrong, resulting in the death or capture of several of its agents. In the aftermath of this disaster, Romer is scornful of the British agents, showing his contempt for the earlier tradition of spies: “‘They’re amateurs,’ he said, the scorn in his voice making it harsh. ‘Fools and amateurs who’re still reading Sapper and Buchan and Erskine Childers. The “Great Game”—it makes me want to vomit.’” (Restless, 154). Eva takes on an assignment working for Lucas in the US, as part of the BSC: a British intelligence unit based in Manhattan, whose main objective is to persuade the US to enter the war. Eva, like her controller, believes “that if the Americans join us we must win. America, Britain and the Empire, and Russia—then it could only be a matter of time” (Restless, 171). Indeed, it is thanks to Eva’s successfully lobbying of their masters, that she and Romer and their team are able to go to the US (123). Shortly before their trip to America Eva and Romer become lovers, despite the fact that becoming sexually involved with an agent is against “Romer’s rules.” Thereafter, while in the US, they pursue their affair secretly, under assumed names: Romer informs her in code of an assignation, using a variety of imaginary couples to book into hotels as far as possible from New York City. The sexual tension between

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controller and spy is made explicit in Boyd’s novel, where the erotic tension of covert activity feeds both their official mission and their secret love affair. An attractive female spy, Eva is used by Romer explicitly for her sexual appeal. Not only does Eva live a double life as Romer’s agent and lover, but she also prostitutes herself for him with another man. Needing an ally who is close to Roosevelt, the US president—to increase the pressure on the US to join the War—the BSC settles on Mason Harding, an aid to Harry Hopkins who is “Roosevelt’s right-hand man. Secretary of Commerce, notionally, but, in reality, FDR’s adviser, envoy, fixer, eyes, and ears” (154). As Romer reminds Eva, “people only betray their country for three reasons … money, blackmail, and revenge” (Restless, 165) and offers a not-so-subtle hint as to her course of action: “You know what it’ll take to make Mr Harding suddenly become very helpful to us” (165). What it “takes,” is for Eva to agree to go to bed with Harding so that the two may be photographed leaving the same hotel, allowing the British to blackmail Harding. With echoes of Bowen’s Heat of the Day—in which Stella agrees to enter a sexual relationship with Harrison in order to protect her lover, Robert, from exposure as a traitor— Boyd’s novel adds the complication of Eva and Romer’s professional relationship. Boyd’s novel provides a compelling example of how a female spy’s sexuality may be used at more than one level, in order to further a mission. Moreover, it shows how a sexual relationship between controller and spy cannot be kept separate from the mission. Eva’s ultimate and traumatizing discovery that Romer himself is a Soviet double agent forms the dramatic climax of Boyd’s novel. She discovers this betrayal following a mission in New Mexico when she realizes that a package to be dead-dropped for another agent contains inferior material. Eva’s decision to open the package and inspect it, results in the failure of the mission as the other agent is caught and killed. In hindsight, Eva realizes that only her controller (Romer) knew her well enough to have predicted that she would have exceeded her directions by opening up the package, and so sabotaging the mission. Boyd’s novel features a double narrative, in which the modern narrator, Ruth, learns in stages that her mother—whose English identity is Sally Gilmartin—is Delectorskaya, the Russian woman who had worked as a British spy. Eva’s story is told in a series of installments that she gives to her daughter. In the present time frame, the daughter is helping Eva to track down Romer under his new identity as a Lord. Eva’s purpose, we eventually realize, is to confront Romer with his betrayals. Despite Romer’s powerful position and reluctance to meet with Eva, the encounter eventually takes place. Confronted with Eva’s knowledge that he betrayed his own country, Romer commits suicide, concluding the poetic justice of the agent upon a controller who has used her and exploited her love for him.



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Boyd’s scenario presents an extreme outcome of a plot in which a spymaster and a spy are sexually involved. A different, yet no less intriguing fictional situation, is when a controller has to deal with a rogue agent. The conflict between different controllers over how best to handle a dangerous rogue agent has become a popular theme of spy films in the twenty-first century, evidenced by the huge success of the Bourne Trilogy, starring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. In the course of the trilogy, the internal conflicts within the CIA about the status of Treadstone—the covert program to which Bourne has been recruited, and from which he has gone rogue—are gradually revealed. Yet the personal bond between male controller and a rogue agent is perhaps best illustrated by the film Spy Game (2008) by British director Tony Scott, exploring an ambivalent bond between spy and spymaster that has evolved over several decades. Like the Bourne films, Spy Game’s narrative is told largely in flashback. But rather than delving into the rogue spy’s point of view, Spy Game focuses on the memories and motives of the recruiter and spymaster. A senior CIA agent, Nathan Muir (played by Robert Redford) is awakened one morning by a phone call from Hong Kong, in which a journalist (played by David Hemming) informs Hunt that Tom Bishop (aka “Boy Scout,” played by Brad Pitt) has gone missing. Hunt rushes to CIA HQ at Langley, Virginia, where he is the first to receive the telex informing the agency about the presumed capture in China of one of its agents. It transpires that this is Hunt’s last day at the CIA before retiring, and he is called in to the Director’s meeting room where he informs the inner circle of the CIA about his recruitment and running of Bishop. Though the Director tries to keep him from the full truth of Bishop’s capture, Muir knows it already from the telex. Using this narrative method of Muir’s testimony, Spy Game offers a condensed history of the CIA from Vietnam to the post-Cold War era. In the course of this narrative, Spy Game also delves deeply into the ambivalent relationship between a controller and his agent.26 Muir’s bond with Tom is forged during the Vietnam War, when Bishop, a soldier, volunteers to fly a helicopter on a dangerous mission. Later, during the Cold War, Hunt arranges for Tom to be posted to a difficult assignment in Germany, and waits until he is desperate before “I made my move” (Spy Game). Muir’s ability to manipulate his agent is established during the sequence where he invites Tom to a Christmas party, in order to recruit him to the CIA. Muir then trains Bishop in tradecraft, and runs him on numerous missions. This sometimes leads to bitter conflicts between the two: for example, when Bishop is taking an East German defector through the wall, only to be instructed by Muir to get rid of him because the East Germans have learned of his defection.27 Bishop is incensed when Muir tells him that the whole operation was a ruse intended (in a scenario reminiscent of le Carré) to flush out a mole at the American Embassy, Ann Cathcart.

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In the present time-frame, Muir goes to great lengths to find out the location of the Chinese prison where Tom is being held and then organizes a complex operation to extract him from the prison, using his own lifesavings to pay for a temporary power outage needed for the rescue. In order to do so, he has to forge the signature of the Director on a letter of command, perhaps suggesting that Muir feels he has not been sufficiently recognized within the CIA. It is significant that Muir never intends to personally rescue Bishop, but to use his skills as a spymaster to orchestrate the operation from Langley. Nonetheless, there is a strong personal connection between Muir and Tom.28 Despite the numerous references by colleagues to Muir’s wives, past and present, these all seem to be fictitious spouses, part of his elaborate cover as a runner of agents. During the meeting with the CIA top brass, Muir receives a phone call from his “wife” and announces, “Dinner Out is a go.” In fact “Dinner Out” is the code name for Bishop’s rescue operation, which he launches from the inner sanctum of the CIA. Not having a wife, Muir’s strongest passion is for his former agent, Tom, whom he risks his reputation and future to save. That Muir is willing to risk his retirement—not to mention going to prison—in order to save Bishop is all the more striking because their last meeting took place at an airport, where Bishop announced his departure from the agency, after an acrimonious dispute with Muir, saying, “I don’t want to end up like you, Nathan.” The rescue mission is successful, and Bishop is reunited with Hadley, whom Muir himself had arranged to be captured and imprisoned. Recognizing the code name “Dinner Out” from one of their earlier operations, Bishop realizes that Muir is responsible for his rescue. In some respects, Scott’s film replays the ambivalent father-son relationship of spymaster and spy that we have seen between Bond and M. Here again, the younger spy is a rebellious recruit of the senior agent, and their understanding of the “spy game” differs because of their different perspectives. Where Spy Game is original is in also invoking the suppressed homoerotic dynamic of the relationship between controller and spy. Muir’s relationships with women are part of his cover as a spy yet also—the film implies—part of his cover for an unacknowledged love for Bishop. Unlike Boyd’s novel, which maintains the heterosexual focus of the spymaster-spy affair, Scott’s film goes further by foregrounding the same-sex desire that circulates in the intimate relationship between a spy and the man who recruits and directs him in his missions. Even though these feelings are suppressed—at least never openly acknowledged by Muir, or Bishop—the film establishes a parallel between the often covert currents of same-sex desire and the culture of secrecy that pervades the spy world. The homosocial and in some cases homosexual relationships that sustained the Cambridge spy ring are alluded to indirectly in Scott’s film, even though the ending restores the heterosexual relationship leaving Muir emotionally out in the cold.



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The history of conflict between spy and spymaster is perhaps given a romantic treatment in Spy Game, in which personal love and loyalty triumph over professional differences. The other side is a constant state of distrust between the agent and those who control him, apparent in Maugham’s Ashenden and in much post-Fleming spy fiction. Frederick Forsyth’s The Devil’s Alternative (1979) offers new insight into the dual role of spy and spymaster by showing the two in a relationship of mutual distrust. British SIS agent Adam Munro stumbles upon a goldmine of Soviet Intelligence, due to an affair he had years earlier in Berlin with a Russian woman. Now posted in Moscow, Munro is contacted by the woman, Valentine, who gives him a tape recording of a Politburo meeting in which the committee discusses the likely disastrous consequences of an imminent grain famine. This intelligence is of vital importance to Britain and the US, as the latter have a surplus of grain that they can use to negotiate military concessions from Moscow. Munro continues to receive priceless intelligence from his confidential source, and delivers it to his superiors in SIS. However, in a vital piece of subterfuge, Munro withholds the true identity of his source in the Kremlin—who is codenamed Nightingale—knowing that if SIS knew of his romantic involvement with a Soviet citizen he would be dismissed from his post. In this scenario, we see that the trust of an agent for his controllers only extends so far and that he withholds vital intelligence from them. On the other side, Forsyth shows the misgivings that the spymaster has about his agent. The head of SIS, Sir Nigel Irvine—referred to somewhat ironically as the Master—first communicates with Munro through an intermediary, Barry Ferndale. This mediated relationship itself differs from the personal, direct access that Bond has to M, for example. In a familiar “faction” technique, Forsyth inserts Ferndale into a real-life defection case, noting “Ferndale had done his time in the field, and assisted in the exhaustive de-briefings of Oleg Penkovsky when the Russian defector had visited Britain while accompanying Soviet trade delegations” (Devil’s, 103). In discussing Munro’s role in the Nightingale case in his absence, Ferndale and Irvine decide that Munro should not return to Moscow in case the potential defector—Krivoi—is part of a trap. Irvine decides that Munro should take his leave, but only within Britain, preventing him from straying too far from home (Forsyth, Devil’s, 105). Is this restriction because Munro might be needed in the Krivoi case, or does the spymaster here imply a distrust of his agent, a fear that he might not be entirely loyal? Munro, like Richard Hannay, is Scottish, and chooses “go back to Scotland for awhile” (106) for some hiking in the Highlands. He returns to London immediately when called for, and meets with Irvine to discuss the handling of his source. Sending Munro to Moscow, Irvine still has doubts, even questioning his choice of vacation: “When Munro had gone, Sir Nigel Irvine

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turned over the file on his desk, which was Munro’s personal record. He had his misgivings. The man was a loner, ill at ease working in a team. A man who walked alone in the mountains of Scotland for relaxation” (111). Just as Munro keeps the identity of his Kremlin source secret from the spymaster, so “the Master” values the information the spy provides without entirely confiding or trusting in the provider. Munro is later coerced by Sir Nigel to use Nightingale one more time before getting her out of Moscow, going back on an agreement the British had with her. The Soviet leader, Rubin, is acting inexplicably in an international crisis, and the British and Americans need to find out why. A group of Ukrainian nationalists, led by a British-born terrorist Andrew Drake, has hijacked the world’s largest supertanker in the North Sea, and threatens to detonate explosives that will destroy the ship and cause an environmental disaster by venting a million tons of crude oil into the North Sea. The conditions are the release of two Ukrainian Jews who are being held in a West German prison for the killing of a West German pilot: the terrorists demand that they be flown to Israel. However, the Soviets inform the Americans that if the prisoners are released, they will renege on the Treaty of Berlin, which exchanges American grain and technology for Soviet military concessions. Munro learns from Nightingale the true reason for Rubin’s intransigence: the two prisoners, Mishkin and Lazereff, had assassinated the head of the KGB in Kiev, a blow at the heart of the Kremlin’s power that has been covered up. On learning this vital information, Munro, however, refuses to inform his “Master” of the truth, and demands a private meeting with the Prime Minister herself. Irvine asks for the meeting between Munro and the British Prime Minister, Joan Carpenter (based on Margaret Thatcher), and is surprised when she agrees. However, it is clear that regardless of the outcome, Irvine intends to discharge one of his most effective agents for undermining his authority (378). Even when he meets Munro—who is clearly drained by his long mission—in London, Irvine has no change of heart: “The directorgeneral of the SIS regarded his staffer quizzically. The man was evidently exhausted and had had a rough deal over the Nightingale affair. Still, that was no excuse for breaking discipline” (381). Irvine’s main concern is with his own authority and privileged access to the PM, rather than the national security he is supposed to protect. He has also betrayed Munro by demanding that he use Nightingale again, although this is partly excused by the fact that Munro has withheld the true identity of Nightingale, and his real reasons for wishing to protect her. Forsyth’s novel reveals in stark terms the conflict of interests between spy and spymaster. Though officially on the same side, they are invariably at loggerheads. In a final dramatic twist to the plot, Munro learns that his own role as controller of Nightingale has been based on deceit. Nightingale—Valentine,



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his former lover—has always been working for the Soviets, and has been using Munro as an asset. She was deployed as a tool to make sure that the Americans received, and believed, the intelligence about the assassination of the KGB head: as he says to his Soviet contact, Rudin, “‘she was yours all along. From the first contact in the woods, just after Vishnayev made his bid for war in Europe. She was working for you… .’” (478). Munro has been so focused on his conflicted relationship with his spymaster, that he fails to detect a damaging betrayal by his own agent and lover. As in Deighton’s Bernard Samson novels, the warring of intra-agency politics supersedes the battle with the external enemy. The spymaster has been unduly neglected in most studies of spy fiction, largely because s/he often operates behind the scenes, rather than in the field, and lacks the romantic appeal of the spy hero. Yet the spymaster is a vital figure in the larger world of espionage, providing an essential point of contact between the individual spy and the wider powers and interests s/he serves. Moreover, the spymaster may sometimes serve as a surrogate for the author, arranging plots and controlling characters, and this surely deserves attention. In the various examples discussed, the bond between spymaster and spy may resemble a variety of familial or intimate relationships: father and son, husband and wife, lovers. Such analogies of kinship remind us how closely connected the two are—they depend on each other, support each other, and each may hold the life of the other in his hands (though more often than not the spymaster holds the upper hand). Yet these personal connections are underwritten by a professional code that can, when necessary, entail the ruthless sacrifice of the agent. The extent of the knowledge a spymaster has about his agents, gives him or her quite literally the power of life and death over the spies in the field. This is why the betrayal of his spies by a spymaster–as in works such as Restless, The Ipcress File, and The Spy Who Came In From the Cold–is the most heinous form of treachery in spy fiction. It leaves the spies vulnerable to capture, interrogation, torture, and death. Yet despite this institutional power, the spymaster is impotent without active agents to carry out his or her directions. In this respect, the dependency is mutual. The rise of the professional spy brought with it an emphasis on a hierarchy and membership of an official organization, with all the privileges—and limitations—that such membership entails. This formal structure brought with it new kinds of restraint on the spy, and greater accountability to the state that employs him or her. Yet the formal hierarchy also provided valuable support to the spy, backing him or her up with the resources of a government and the training of professionals. It is because he or she represents and embodies these official, institutional powers that the spymaster has remained a deeply ambivalent, yet enduring, figure in the spy fiction genre.

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NOTES 1. So pervasive has the image of the spy as a figure in popular culture become, that there is a class of fictions—or spoofs—that specifically mocks this fantasyelement, often in comic mode. From Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana (1958) to James Cameron’s film True Lies (1994) and Doug Liman’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), there is an extensive repertoire of works delving into the extent to which fantasy and wish-fulfillment drive the spy world. Each features “ordinary” characters that become involved in espionage to add interest to their dull, ordinary lives, often spicing up their sex lives in the process. Greene’s Wormold is a vacuum-cleaner salesman who becomes a spy in order to make money to pay for his spoilt daughter’s expensive lifestyle. Yet he certainly receives a frisson of excitement from fooling the Secret Service with his fake spy networks and fabricated diagrams. Cameron’s spy hero Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) realizes that his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) wants an involvement with spies to add interest to her life, and so fulfills her fantasy. James Bond is of course a powerful fantasy figure in his own right, and some of the film versions, especially, veer towards self-parody, in appealing flagrantly to the viewer’s desire for gadgetry, sexual excitement, and vicarious adventure. 2. The ambivalence towards the spymaster as a representative of that power would become a defining feature of the spy novel. In the 1960s such authority would be mocked rather than respected: the narrator of Ipcress File is asked by his controller whether he likes his job, he replies with obvious sarcasm (Ipcress, 12). 3. This was the World War I battle in which Kipling’s son John was killed. 4. In fact, Bond’s worst moments as a professional spy occur when his occupation is closest to that of the desk job. He resents the “soft life” in From Russia with Love and in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond goes so far as to pen a letter of resignation due to his frustration with his job (OHMSS, 11). 5. Among M’s most memorable international film cameos, he appears in a submarine in You Only Live Twice (1967), on a sunken tanker in Hong Kong harbor in The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), and—perhaps most improbably—in an Egyptian desert in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). In each case M is accompanied by Moneypenny. He also makes an early morning visit to Bond’s apartment—again with Moneypenny in tow—in Live and Let Die (1973). 6. As Moran notes, Fleming’s “novels were for a long time the only cultural products to discuss the CIA directly and even to refer to the agency by its real name” (122). 7. One may note an allusion to this difference in rank in the film of GoldenEye. Xenia Onatopp asks Bond sarcastically “what rank do you hold in the Department of Motor Vehicles?” When Bond replies “Commander,” Xenia gestures towards her male escort, and states, “this one’s an Admiral.” Bond’s response—“I do like a girl who enjoys pulling rank”—suggests resentment at being outranked by his American counterpart. 8. The reference to the penis as a weapon is emphasized by Bond’s contact in Istanbul, Darko Kerim, who offers him women him women to “entertain you more intimately” on the grounds that “You must keep your sword sharp” (153) for Tatiana.



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9. In the film of Casino Royale, M (Judi Dench) refers to Bond as a “blunt instrument.” One could more accurately refer to him as a lethal weapon. 10. In Fleming’s novel, Bond goes to the Bank of England unaccompanied by M and meets with Colonel Smithers, the gold expert, alone. The two men smoke (55), but there is no mention of refreshments. The film, in which Bond is invited by M to join him at the bank for dinner, turns the scene into a type of gentlemen’s club, complete with brandy, cigars, and a deferential butler to serve them. The film thus conforms more closely to the narrative pattern identified by Eco, as “the Journey and the Meal” (“Narrative Structures,” 155). 11. Bond’s suppressed hostility towards M becomes even more lethal in The Man With the Golden Gun in which, having been brainwashed by the Soviets, he attempts to assassinate M. In this late novel (published in 1965), we see evidence of influence by the brainwashing plots of novels such as Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate (1959) and Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File (1962). 12. In the 1969 film version of OHMSS, the source of the conflict between Bond and M is somewhat different: Bond is convinced that Blofeld is still alive, and wants to finish the job, but M is dissatisfied with his progress and removes him from “Operation Bedlam.” Bond writes a letter of resignation (much briefer than in the novel) but—when Moneypenny substitutes a letter requesting two weeks leave—he uses his vacation to go in pursuit of Blofeld, defying M’s orders. 13. In Fleming’s novel, the female patients in Blofeld’s clinic at Piz Gloria are “all English” (90). This restricts the scale of Blofeld’s plot to the geographic diversity of the UK: “there were traces of many accents, accents from all over Britain” (91). In the film version, the girls are an international group, reflecting the global scale of Blofeld’s destructive ambition. 14. It is worth noting that Ian Fleming’s role in the 30AU, “Ian Fleming’s Red Indians,” was similar to that of M’s desk job: he recruited members and ran the group’s operations from London (see Lycett, chapter, 5). 15. I should note that Kingsley Amis has a far more negative appraisal of M and his role in the novels than I offer here (see Bond Dossier, 74–5). 16. Yet there are exceptions even to the rule that an agent does not betray his spymaster. A breakthrough in this approach is Brian Freemantle’s Charlie M, discussed in chapter 5. 17. At the opening of Tinker Tailor—the first book in le Carré’s Karla Trilogy— Control has died and been replaced by Percy Alleline. In the major reshuffle of the Circus’ upper echelons that follows Control’s death, George Smiley is forced into retirement, for he is known as “Control’s man.” 18. Hepburn notes the chess analogy in Spy Who, noting that “characters … function like chess pieces rather than rational, sentient creatures” (Intrigue, 169). 19. Despite the fact that Karla knew of Control’s suspicions of Haydon (369), Control’s suspicions are no match for Karla’s ingenuity. Karla even has greater insight into Smiley that Control does, using Ann to distract Smiley’s attention from Haydon (373). 20. Deighton’s narrator/protagonist is not named in these novels; however, he is called “Harry Palmer” in the film versions, and will be referred to by this name for convenience here as in previous chapters.

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21. In the film version of Ipcress, the entire episode on Tokwe Atoll is removed. The film’s Dalby is in cahoots with Blue Jay (aka Grantby) the Albanian-born agent who has been kidnapping and brainwashing leading British scientists using the IPCRESS method. Dalby has overseen the brainwashing of Palmer and implanted the trigger phrase, “Now listen to me,” that will cause Palmer to obey him. 22. More generally, with Robert Ludlum’s Bourne novels, the entire intelligence organization (the CIA, or Treadstone the covert organization within it) would be portrayed as the mortal enemy of the agent. So familiar had this device become by the 1990s, that it became difficult to maintain the element of surprise. An interesting example of a work that succeeds in surprising the audience, is the film Mission Impossible (1996), directed by Brian De Palma. In this film, the spymaster, Jim Phelps, (Jon Voigt) arranges a mission to discover the thief of a US classified NOC (Non Official Cover) list, revealing the actual identities of American spies around the world. Phelps is apparently killed in a hit on their mission, but we later learn that he is himself a traitor, selling the NOC list to an independent intelligence-gatherer known as “Job.” More importantly, Phelps arranges for the deaths of his whole team of MI agents, reinforcing the image of the spymaster as a ruthless, mercenary traitor who betrays the trust of his protégés. 23. In Ipcress, the narrator states sarcastically that, when they do manage to identify the highly placed traitor “Henry,” they will find he is related to the upper-class Chico (322). 24. As White notes, “Garbo’s star persona tapped into similar discourses to those that had surrounded Mata Hari as a New Woman and through her identification with the aesthetic of art deco” (Violent, 41). Garbo starred as Mata Hari in the Hollywood film directed by George Fitzmaurice, 1931. A key part of Garbo’s performance in this role was her ability to move between identities. Such mobility of identity is particularly relevant to Charlie’s performance. 25. In the case of Mata Hari, it appears that she was ultimately punished for her sexual relations with German officers rather than for her actual betrayal of secrets. Phillip Knightley describes her as “the very epitome of the dedicated spy—the beautiful girl who, for money and thrills, wormed out of her lovers the most important secrets of state” (46). And yet, despite this reputation, “The German, the French and the British intelligence services all suspected her of being a spy but no one could discover any evidence, apart from the fact that she had slept with German officers, and French Cabinet ministers” (47). Of course these suspicions themselves, combined with her apparent sexual promiscuity, were enough to bring about the death sentence. The fate of Mata Hari reflects the double bind of the female agent. The female spy’s sexuality is what makes her uniquely useful as an asset—whether as double agent or as the bait in a honey-trap—yet it ultimately leads to her downfall. 26. An earlier film by Scott, 1998’s Enemy of the State, presents an even more cynical view of American intelligence community, showing the NSA (headed by Jon Voigt) in its ongoing surveillance and ruthless pursuit of US citizens. The film now seems prophetic of the role of the NSA disclosed in leaks from former employee Edward Snowden.



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27. Bishop at first refuses to obey Muir’s order, but then reluctantly agrees to dump the defector, who ends up being shot. At their debriefing, Muir reprimands Bishop for not immediately following his orders. 28. The conflict between Muir and Bishop comes to a head, when Tom becomes romantically involved with a female aid worker in Africa, Elizabeth Hadley (Catherine McCormack). Believing that she is using Bishop to advance her cause, Muir attempts to sabotage the relationship by informing his protégé about Hadley’s terrorist activity in England. During this episode, there is a clearly suggestion of Muir’s jealousy and romantic/sexual rivalry with Hadley for control of Tom.

Part III

AFTER THE COLD WAR, 1990 TO THE PRESENT

Chapter 9

Reinventing the Spy Story After the Cold War

On November 9, 1989, crowds surged across the Oberbaumbrücke from East to West Berlin, following the breach of the Berlin Wall, and the notorious East German secret police, the Stasi—which had arrested, spied on, terrorized, and tortured the East German populace for over a generation—were powerless to prevent it. It would be hard to conceive of a more dramatic symbol of the ending of the Cold War than this flood of humanity liberated from the oppression of life behind the Iron Curtain, entering a new life of freedom in the West. Within two years of this occasion, the Soviet Union—whose borders had expanded since the end of World War II to include large swathes of Eastern Europe—had dissolved, leading many of its former satellites to declare their independence. From the point of view of NATO and the West, the collapse of the long-feared enemy happened with an almost unimaginable rapidity and apparent finality, potentially freeing up vast resources that had been channeled into the arms race and other military preparations for use in long-neglected domestic programs. Aside from the military infrastructure, there were two groups of people that might look on the end of the Cold War with less than euphoria. The first group consisted of the secret service organizations of the various NATO powers—most notably the American CIA, the British SIS—which saw their main mission and raison d’etre for the previous half-century crumble with the Berlin Wall. These organizations had experienced massive expansion since 1945, largely fuelled by anti-Soviet anxiety and anti-Communist phobia. With the Soviet Union no longer an urgent military or espionage target, the spy agencies could expect their budgets to be slashed and British Writers Supplement. Frederick Forsyth article. From BRITISH WRITERS SUPPLEMENT 22, 22E. ©2016 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, Inc. Reproduced by permission. www.cengage.com/ permissions.

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their personnel to be diminished. Ironically, the “victory” of the Cold War might be accompanied by loss of prestige and resources. The other group who eyed events warily were the spy novelists, who had made their livings for the past 45 years exploiting readers’ fears of Soviet penetration or attack, to spin sometimes realistic, sometimes exaggerated yarns of brilliant Western agents combating the spies of the Red Empire. Perhaps the dilemma of the author of spy thrillers has been most aptly expressed by John le Carré: “When the Cold War ended, people wiser than myself rushed to print with the gleeful declaration that henceforth I had nothing further to write about: le Carré’s rice-bowl was broken” (“Introduction,” Little Drummer, xiii). Although le Carré personalizes and individualizes this potential crisis, one can assume that others of his profession had similar premonitions that their livelihood was at an end. Yet just as assumptions that we now might live in a peaceful world were soon corrected by world events, so the reports of the spy novel’s death, to paraphrase Mark Twain, proved to be an exaggeration. As this book has argued, from its inception the spy novel has shown a remarkable ability to adapt and transform itself to reflect changing currents in world events, shifting geopolitical alliances and hostilities, and cultural changes more broadly. The spy novel, perhaps more so than other genres, has evolved in order to maintain its popular appeal and cultural relevance, by absorbing and reflecting the often traumatic alterations in national identity, political creed, and economic reality. As a stark example the Soviet Union had been an ally of the US and UK against Germany until the end of World War II. Thereafter, it became the chief enemy of the NATO alliance, while Germany—at least the Western half—became a key ally and the base of many NATO military installations and operations. Why should the spy novel not be able to adapt to the apparent cessation of hostilities between East and West? In fact, the fictional spy had always been defined by—even brought into being by—the threat posed by an enemy. As we have pointed out, the British Secret Service came into being as a result of a political furor about foreign spies at work in Britain, and invasion fantasies penned by Le Queux and Childers among others. Yet no less significantly, the imaginary spies such as Ray Raymond, Duckworth Drew, Carruthers, and Davies would not have been created were it not for the panic of a German network of spies preparing for enemy invasion. The early spies could only justify spying as a reaction to—and justifiable defense against—an already-existing threat. As Carruthers puts it, “It’s a delicate matter… . Spying on a spy” (79), while Davies claims “we have a right to expose him [Dollmann]. If we can’t do it without spying, we’ve a right to spy, at our own risk” (Riddle, 80). Therefore from the inception of the spy novel, espionage is indistinguishable from counterespionage, represented as a legitimate response to an already-existing foreign threat. Even the most famous fictional spy of all, James Bond, engages more



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often in counterespionage than espionage: he is usually sent on a mission when a threat has become apparent from SMERSH, SPECTRE, or an individual criminal. Just as Britain saw its war against Germany as a defense against Nazi aggression—manifested in the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland—so the British and American secret services often saw their work as protecting NATO countries from Soviet aggression, rather than aggressive espionage against a rival power. If the spy comes into being as a response to a foreign enemy, what happens when that enemy is no longer there? The obvious answer to this question is that a new enemy emerges, requiring and bringing into being a new kind of spy, or at least an evolved version of earlier agents. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 ushered in a new age of war and espionage against Islamic dictators and Islamic terrorist organizations. A series of terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups on American military bases, embassies, and even US home soil throughout the 1990s indicated that there would be no shortage of global threats in the post-Cold War era. One of the British spy novelists to quickly adapt to this “new world order” was Frederick Forsyth. His collection of novellas, The Deceiver, was one of the first publications by a major author of spy fiction to recognize the end of the Cold War and to make the passing of an era the central focus of the stories. Forsyth’s agent, Sam McCready, is about to be let go by the Secret Service as his department—Deception, Disinformation and Psychological Operations—is going to be closed down as no longer relevant with the end of the Cold War. The premise of the stories is that McCready is given a final hearing, chaired by the deputy chief of SIS, Timothy Edwards, in which McCready’s contribution to the service is assessed. Four of his adventures as a SIS agent are narrated, each of which deals with a different aspect of Cold War conflict and history. The stories are actually told by Denis Gaunt, McCready’s representative at the hearing, though McCready himself is present. The context is that the end of the Cold War means that “the veterans who had run their operations, their active measures, their networks of local agents out of the embassies east of the Iron Curtain, would come home—to no jobs” (Deceiver, 9). The first episode, “Pride and Extreme Prejudice,” deals with McCready tracking down a German-born agent who goes on the run after killing a prostitute. McCready is successful in obtaining vital documents in the agent’s possession, but also assists the fugitive to commit suicide. In response to this story, Timothy Edwards dismisses its relevance to the modern age, “I feel one might point out that in intelligence terms , that year [1985] now constitutes a different and even a vanished age” (127). As this comment suggests, Forsyth uses the stories to reflect back on SIS operations in the Cold War as a bygone era. The second episode, “The Price of the Bride,” explores tensions and rivalries between the two major Western secret service agencies, Britain’s

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SIS and the American CIA. The story follows the apparent defection of a KGB agent, Colonel Orlov who disappears from his group on Salisbury Plain in England, but decides to give himself up to the CIA rather than the British Secret Service. The story explores doubts about whether Orlov is a genuine defector or disinformation agent and, as such, is very much a piece of the Cold War, despite being set during perestroika. In the “Interludes” between narratives, Timothy Edwards expresses doubts about their relevance to the new age of espionage: following “The Price of the Bride” he asks, “Will these remarkable talents ever be needed in the future?” (249), a question that Forsyth clearly intends the reader to contemplate as well about the “remarkable talents” of the various spy novelists of his generation. The third story, “A Casualty of War,” deals with Colonel Gaddafi’s supply of weapons to the Irish Republican Army, in revenge for the US/UK bombing of Libya in 1986. It is the final story, “A Little Bit of Sunshine,” however, in which McCready’s brilliance as an agent is most in evidence. The story details how he took control of a Caribbean island, staging an effective (if temporary) coup in the wake of a political assassination. As he leaves the island McCready sees a small child waving and reflects that “the boy could grow up without ever having to live under the red flag or to sniff cocaine” (476). Forsyth’s message in The Deceiver is that the Cold War is over, requiring a radical rethinking of intelligence and espionage operations in the West, but that there are new enemies and international crises already rearing their heads. In an epigraph to the story, he states “The Cold War lasted forty years. For the record, the West won it. But not without cost”. The head of SIS in the book has written a paper on “SIS in the Nineties” which “had laid stress on the shifting rather than the diminishing of the global threats. At the top of these had been proliferation—the steady acquisition by dictators, some of them wildly unstable, of vast arsenals of weapons … even nuclear access” (9). At the end of the collection, when McCready has decided to leave, he tells Gaunt “there’s a bloody dangerous world out there, and it’s not getting less dangerous, but more so” (478). As he crosses Westminster Bridge, McCready sees a news placard announcing the end of the Cold War as “OFFICIAL” (480): the news vendor comments, “All them international crises. Thing of the past” to which McCready responds sarcastically, “What a lovely idea” (480). The book ends with the announcement that “Four weeks later, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait” (480). One could hardly ask for a more fitting segue to Forsyth’s next novel, The Fist of God (1994), which might be described as the first masterpiece of post-Cold War spy fiction. The Fist of God, like Forsyth’s first novel The Day of the Jackal, employs a “what if?” scenario to the story, offering an alternate history, and imagining what might have taken place behind the scenes during the build up to the Operation Desert Storm. Forsyth again deploys the technique of



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“faction”—that blending of historical fact and imaginative fiction that critics, such as Nigel West, have argued is central to the history and development of the spy novel—in order to tell a story of a double agent working within the Iraqi regime. A number of the characters in the novel are actual historical figures involved in that invasion—including Saddam Hussain, President George Bush, General Norman Schwartzkopf, British General Sir Peter Billiers, and British Premier Margaret Thatcher. However, the central spy characters of the narrative are invented, and reflect special skills required of the spy in the postCold War era. These include Major Mike Martin, a British SAS soldier who speaks fluent Arabic and can pass as an Iraqi. With echoes of Kim, Martin is uniquely useful to the British and Americans because of his ability to penetrate the Arab world. Martin comes to the attention of the British Secret Service through his brother, Terry Martin, an academic at London University’s School of Oriental Studies, who lets slip that his brother has this gift of speaking Arabic and possesses the dark complexion that allows him to pass as an Arab. The threat of nuclear proliferation, imagined by the SIS Chief in Deceiver as the greatest threat in the 1990s, is very much to the forefront of The Fist of God. The discovery that Saddam Hussein has acquired the materials to build a nuclear weapon throws both US and British intelligence into a frenzy, and the Medusa Committee—a joint Anglo-American think tank on Iraq’s military capacity—explores the options. As the coalition prepares for its invasion of Iraq—Operation Desert Storm—the fears are of Iraq attacking the invading forces with biological and chemical weapons. Mike Martin who has been assisting the Kuwaiti resistance, is withdrawn from Kuwait and sent on a more urgent mission to Iraq, where he will run a double agent code-named Jericho. This agent was originally an asset of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, but has been inactive for some time, and the Israelis agree to let the British and Americans run him. For this purpose, Martin poses as a humble Iraqi, his cover being that of a gardener for the Soviet ambassador in Iraq. While the double agent and his handler are a familiar combination from the Cold War, Martin’s ability to disguise himself and pass as a native has origins in figures such as Kim and Lawrence of Arabia. Using this cover, Martin services the various dead drops for communication with Jericho—whose actual identity remains a mystery—and provides British/US intelligence with information about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. Through this means, Martin is able to uncover Hussein’s greatest military secret. His scientists have developed a supergun, capable of launching a nuclear weapon, the barrel of which is 180 meters long. Code-named Babylon, it was designed by the scientist Gerald Bull who believed it was to be used for launching satellites into space. Having finished designing the supergun, Bull is assassinated—probably by the Iraqis though it is possible

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his killers are Mossad agents. Moreover, Martin learns through Jericho—who reports on secret high-level meetings with Hussein and his inner circle—that Iraq does in fact have the high-grade uranium required to produce an atomic weapon. The Americans pay Jericho millions of dollars to obtain this intelligence, and he reveals the location of the factory where the bomb was produced. The Americans and British then bomb it, but later learn that Hussein has moved the bomb to a different location. On further payment, Jericho informs the US that the bomb is now housed at a place called the “Qa’ala” (Fortress). The allies are still mystified by how Hussein plans to launch the weapon: not yet knowing of his secret supergun that will achieve a single launch of the weapon into Saudi Arabia as soon as coalition ground forces land in the middle East. It will kill 100,000 coalition soldiers in an area called the “triangle,” and cause huge fallout damage throughout the region. On payment of $3 million more, Jericho reveals that the “Qa’ala” (Fortress) is located somewhere in the Jebal al-Hamreen mountains in eastern Iraq. Mike Martin then volunteers for the secret parachute jump into the mountains, in order to locate the supergun. The ground phase of Desert Storm is, meanwhile, delayed for two days while Martin and his team use telescopic sights to locate the elaboratelyconcealed barrel of the supergun, and train lasers to pinpoint the weapon which allows the coalition to destroy it with a F-15E Strike Eagle bomber. The ground invasion then takes place. Forsyth’s novel weaves together the espionage of SIS, the CIA, and Mossad, who had originally recruited Jericho as their asset. Posing as British airmen, the Mossad agents then capture Jericho—who is revealed, in a twist in the tail, as the director of AMAM, Brigadier Omar Khatib (known as the Tormentor)—and, while claiming to be flying him to safety in Europe, drug him and throw him into the ocean. Mike Martin is in some ways a throwback to Kipling’s Kim—a white boy who could pass as an Indian in the bazaar—allowing him to first work alongside the Kuwaiti resistance against Iraqi invaders and then—more importantly—disguise himself as an Arab gardener to run Jericho. This latter disguise is particularly impressive, for Martin has to camouflage himself as a lowly, menial worker who—installed in his humble shack at the end of the Soviet ambassador’s property—will attract no attention to himself, becoming “invisible.” Meanwhile, he will not only be servicing the complex series of dead drops used by Jericho, but will use highly sophisticated communications equipment to transmit his discoveries secretly. Even so, Martin is almost captured by Iraqi secret police (AMAM), which is able to triangulate his radio transmissions and so pinpoint his location. Later, on the parachute mission, Martin is further able to demonstrate his espionage and military skills by first identifying and then laser-pointing the supergun. In using the “throwback” (and some might say obsolete) type of spy who works on the ground and passes as a native, Forsyth gives credit to



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the importance of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) in a spy world increasingly dominated by technology, in which electronic Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) is believed to be the holy grail of modern espionage. Despite all its high-tech surveillance and military equipment, including satellites and state-of-the-art bombers, the US military is unable to detect the supergun that Hussein plans to use, nor can it discover that he has already produced a nuclear weapon. It relies on the relatively primitive method of a disguised agent “on the ground” to thwart the enemy. Just as The Deceiver sought to remind readers that the espionage tradecraft of the Cold War would still be needed in the new era—still a “dangerous world”—so The Fist of God dramatizes the essential role of the individual spy in an era of corporate espionage. In his Final Note, Forsyth comments on the “lessons” that the Persian Gulf War taught. Chief among these is the continued need for intelligence gathering after the Cold War, and the fear that “the role of ‘humint’ the gathering of information by people was downgraded” (573). Forsyth’s conclusion: “What became plain by the end was that for certain tasks in certain places, there is still no substitute for the oldest informationgathering device on earth: the human eyeball, Mark One” (The Fist of God 573). Returning us to the original organ of espionage—the eye—Forsyth at once celebrates Martin’s mastery of advanced technology and shows his more primitive survival and observation skills. With this authorial intrusion, Forsyth recalls the approach of past spy novelists such as Erskine Childers who sought to teach real lessons about intelligence and international politics by means of thrilling adventure narratives. So successful was Mike Martin as a British agent who can pass as an Arab, that Forsyth used him again in a later novel, The Afghan. There are in effect two double agents at work in The Fist of God: Jericho, the Iraqi mole who leads the allies to the location of the “The Fist of God,” Hussein’s secret weapon, and Martin who works undercover in Kuwait and Iraq to ultimately discover and destroy the weapon. The two sides of such duplicity are shown: Jericho is a pure mercenary, who will only deliver information on payment of vast sums of money into a Swiss bank account. Martin works undercover from a sense of adventure and out of patriotic duty, returning us to the era of the gentleman-amateur (though Martin is a hardboiled version of this). Both types of double agency are necessary for the mission against Hussein to succeed, and in some ways Jericho’s mercenary motives make him easy to handle, as there are no complications of ideological motives involved. In contrast to the Cambridge Five who served the Soviet Union from ideological reasons—and the fictionalized version of Philby, Bill Haydon, who had no economic motives—Jericho can be bought, showing that American money remains essential to espionage after the Cold War. They know that Jericho will take great risks—such as revealing himself to

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the chief engineer of the Qa’ala in order to find its location—if the rewards are large enough. Fist thus strips the double agent of any potentially noble or altruistic notions. In this scenario the Western coalition was at much greater risk than anyone realized: had The Fist of God been activated, there would have been massive casualties among coalition ground forces, devastating nuclear fallout in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and political (and perhaps economic) turmoil in the West. The novel, telling this story of what might have happened in the secret world—out of the public’s view—raises the stakes of the most significant international conflict of the post-Cold War era, prior to 9/11. As Craig Cabell observes, this post-Cold War novel displays “Forsyth’s capacity to … write about something other than corruption from either a Communist—or Capitalist—source” (100). Forsyth adapted relatively quickly to the changes in the political landscape that occurred with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Other spy novelists—Len Deighton in particular—also reacted quickly to the political changes by exploring new areas of conflict. Deighton published several novels in the early 1990s that sought to break away from the Cold War fixation of his Samson series, which had been ongoing since 1983. Mamista, published in 1991, is a tale of Marxist revolutionaries in Spanish Guiana. Focusing on a trio of mismatched adventurers who are caught up in the revolutionaries’ fight against the CIA, Mamista features episodes of drug running as well as revolutionary war. Published in the same year, City of Gold was a return to World War II, featuring the North African campaign against General Erwin Rommel and the threat of a mole within the British military, leaking secrets to the German commanders. In 1993, Deighton published Violent Ward, set in Los Angeles—where he had been living for several years—and featuring a shady LA criminal lawyer, Mickey Murphy who gets involved in a murder that has unforeseen consequences, embroiling Murphy in the LA criminal underworld. Using as its denouement the LA riots that followed the beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers, Violent Ward showed Deighton’s capacity to address contemporary urban problems outside European Cold War politics. These various novels—the thriller of revolutionary violence, the historical military novel, and the contemporary urban noir—showed signs of Deighton reinventing himself, seeking to answer the question of “What will Len Deighton do when the Berlin Wall comes down?” (“Deighton Dossier,” Mamista). However Deighton in fact had significant unfinished business with the Berlin Wall as the symbol of the Cold War for a generation. He had planned a series of ten novels—three trilogies, and one historical novel detailing the origins of the Winter family in Berlin—around his spy protagonist Bernard Samson, and was not to be deterred by the historical events of 1989–1991.



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In his introductions to the reissued editions of the final trilogy, Deighton recalls “More than one expert advised me to forget the Wall, tear my plan down, and radically change its direction” (“Introduction,” to Hope, viii). While acknowledging that “any writer who pins his story to fixed dates had better hold on to his hat for it is likely to be a rough and rocky ride” (viii), Deighton insisted that his whole saga had been based on the assumption that the Berlin Wall “would fall before the end of the century” (viii). Deighton has described the importance of Berlin to the entire series, “Berlin is like an ever-present character in all my Bernard Samson books. It hovers over the action like a storm cloud even when the action moves to a different locale” (“Introduction,” to Charity, xi). Admitting to an “obsession with Berlin” (“Introduction,” to Charity vii) Deighton goes some way towards explaining why he completed the series despite the fact that its obvious conditions—the Soviet Empire—had passed. But arguably the final trilogy is less a Cold War story than an interpersonal domestic drama, with “Berlin [as] the backdrop but the people who strut and posture on the stage together create a mood of drama, farce, horror or knockabout comedy that must be maintained” (xi). Perhaps provocatively, Deighton has described the Samson stories as “comedy thrillers—boardroom dramas perhaps—about a man in love with two women” (xi). In this respect, the ending of the Cold War did not materially affect “Bernard’s emotional dilemma and the effect it has on both Fiona and Gloria” (xi). However, it is clear that Deighton sets out to demonstrate the key role of religion—both the Catholic Church headed by the Polish Pope John Paul II and the German Lutheran Church, the mobilization of which lies behind Fiona’s feigned “defection” to the East—in the toppling of Communism. As one of the trilogy’s key characters—George Kozinski, Fiona’s sister’s husband—is Polish, the trilogy takes the opportunity to delve into political aspects such as the Solidarity movement. Deighton’s trilogy offers an epitaph—or perhaps an elegy—to the Cold War, by showing the profound effects of political division and deception on human relationships. Bernard’s relationship with Fiona becomes the allegory for East-West relations, in which neither party fully knows or trusts the motives of the other. As he had written Spy Sinker from the point of view of Fiona Samson—shedding new light on her actions and motives as an apparent mole and defector—so Charity reveals a greater depth to Bernard’s understanding of his wife that has emerged from her harrowing Cold War experiences: “What had happened to her after she defected; during those terrible years when she was a double-agent? She seldom talked of it, but once she’d confided that the worst part was the interrogation that took place when she first arrived over there” (Charity, 122–3). With this final trilogy, Deighton looks back on the Cold War, uncovering new secrets and solving certain puzzles. Yet more importantly, the novels reveal how much of the human story of the Cold War must remain shrouded in mystery.

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Just as Deighton and le Carré had both burst onto the scene of spy fiction in successive years—The Ipcress File (1962) appearing the year before The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963)—so the two distinguished laureates of the spy novel both showed the continued legacy of the Cold War into the 1990s. Le Carré’s Our Game (1995) continues a rivalry between two Cold War agents, carrying their conflict into Moscow and Southern Russia. Le Carré further adapted the spy novel with The Tailor of Panama in which the protagonist, Harry Pendel, encounters a spy, Andrew Osnard, who is in Panama to keep tabs on the American handover of the Panama Canal on December 31, 1999 while also enriching himself. Le Carré’s insight into the often mercenary motives of the spy would be transformed into a scathing attack on the shameless and rapacious greed of major international finance, in Single and Single (1999) and of multinational corporations, focusing on the “big pharma” in The Constant Gardener (2001). Yet perhaps le Carré’s most original exploration of espionage in the postCold War era focuses not on a professional spy but on an amateur, temporary British agent who stumbles upon an international conspiracy. Le Carré’s The Mission Song (2006) is narrated by Bruno Salvatore, or “Salvo,” the son of an Irish missionary father and a Congolese mother. With an extraordinary gift for languages, Salvo is able to graduate from the mission schools and Catholic institutions in Africa and Britain—in the latter of which he meets Brother Michael, his Catholic mentor who also sexually exploits him. He rises to become a top interpreter specializing in various African languages and dialects, which few possess. This combined with his English and fluent French make him an invaluable asset in various corporate deals. He also works in other settings, such as hospitals, where he is called in to interpret for a dying African man, leading him to meet Hannah. She is a nurse at the North London District Hospital, having emigrated from the Congo. In addition to her nursing skills, she is a passionate believer in the Mwambazah, the Congolose (Kivu) spiritual leader who promises a future independent of Western commercial interests and perpetual conflict with neighboring Rwanda. He wants the Kivu to become independent and to throw out the Rwandans who are draining the region’s rich mineral resources. Salvo and Hannah make passionate love, having fallen in love at first sight, just before Salvo has to go to his wife Penelope’s promotion bash (she has been promoted at her newspaper under the mentorship of her editor and lover Fergus “Thorne the Horn”). Having just arrived from his tryst with Hannah, Salvo has barely entered the party and has not even made contact with his wife, when he receives a call from the mysterious Anderson calling him to a top-secret mission. A key question in the novel is what Salvo’s status is within, or in relation to, the British Secret Service. He cannot simply be called a “secret agent,” for he is not a professionally trained member of the SIS or any other



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intelligence organization. Rather, as a linguist and interpreter, he possesses special skills that make him invaluable to the SIS for certain assignments. Unlike Forsyth’s Mike Martin, who is coopted from SAS by the SIS, Salvo has no relevant military background. In his case, he is called in to serve as an interpreter at a top-secret conference between Western financial and political oligarchs, and African leaders, to orchestrate a plan for the future of Kivu, the Eastern region of Congo that abuts Rwanda. Kivu is in perpetual conflict with Rwanda, and possesses rich mineral resources including coltan, an ore that is essential in various industrial and military processes. Salvo is called to a meeting at an elegant London house, where he observes various celebrities and high-powered financial types emerge from a conference with Lord Jack Brinkley, a philanthropist with whom Salvo has corresponded and praised for his stand on Africa. Having agreed to the mission, Salvo is sent to a top-secret location on an island somewhere in the North Sea—whether Scotland or the Scandinavian islands is never fully clear. He is recruited on a temporary basis, is paid £5,000, and will serve as interpreter for the various conversations of the key players including Mwambaza, Haj (the Western-educated son of Luc, a key Congolese/Kivu leader) and Phillip, who represents the British interests and has direct access to Brinkley. Salvo describes his role as a “sound thief,” initially because he interprets the words of the various delegates and in this sense “steals” them. He is also listening in on them secretly, through the various surveillance devices/bugs that have been planted throughout the conference location including a gazebo where characters believe they can talk in private. By eavesdropping on private conversations and interpreting them without the knowledge of the speakers, Salvo exceeds his brief and makes the discovery of a deeper intrigue. In this role, Salvo is reminiscent of Harry Caul, the surveillance expert played by Gene Hackman in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974); or Jack Terry, the movie soundman who accidentally records evidence that a car accident was actually a murder in Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981). In each case, the protagonist’s special skills of surveillance and “sound stealing” lead him to uncover a disturbing conspiracy. Ultimately, Salvo will confirm his role as a sound thief when he turns against his employers, the British, having become convinced that they are brokering a corrupt deal between Western financial interests and the Congolese leaders, and that the people of Kivu will get nothing. The “People’s Portion”—the resources from the sale of minerals and other assets that will allegedly be devoted to the people of the Congo, especially the Kivu region—is in fact fictitious, as Salvo learns that all the wealth will go to the British and to the African leaders. By stealing the seven recorded tapes he has made—which include such incriminating evidence as the torturing of

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Haj to force him to persuade his father to accept the three million dollar bribe and the phone call from Phillip to Brinkley authorizing the payment of this bribe—Salvo becomes a rogue agent, and makes himself an outlaw. His lover Hannah then becomes a “sound thief” as well for she steals the crucial two tapes from Salvo in order to send them to Haj; and this prevents Salvo from making the deal with Fergus to print the story about the Mwambaza’s corrupt dealings with the British. Salvo’s mission also involves deception, a crucial aspect of tradecraft. He possesses mastery of an impressive range of African languages and dialects, but on arrival at the conference location he is told to pretend only to know Swahili, French, and English when in his official capacity as interpreter. The other language will remain “Under the Waterline,” meaning that delegates believe they can speak freely to each other in these languages. Hence his role as spy occurs UTW, using the languages that he never declares openly, and interpreting in a secret room, known as the “boiler room,” in which the bugged conversations from the various areas are replayed. Salvo is in a sense an amateur agent, recalling the accidental spies of Buchan and his peers. Salvo is motivated by patriotism rather than money (he is paid much less than the other participants such as Spider); but he is a peripheral part of the official framework of the SIS, though on a temporary/ special basis. He has professional skills that make him valuable but he is not trained as a spy, except on the job. However, Salvo’s development in the novel is the reverse of a character such as Hannay. Buchan’s hero has been raised in South Africa, and initially identifies with Africa rather than Britain, to the point of wanting to “take the next boat for the Cape” (Steps, 14). In the course of the adventure, he comes to identify as British and will end up serving directly under the British Secret Service of Sir Walter Bullivant. Salvo is referred to as “Zebra” due to his mixed-race heritage—he has a white father and black mother—and refers to this often as something that makes him suspicious, causing him to be stopped at airports. Yet Salvo begins by identifying as British, and serving British interests, but eventually—especially through his relationship with Hannah—he is “Africanized,” his political conscience is activated and comes to identify powerfully with the Congo and against Britain. By reversing the pro-British national identification of the Buchan hero, le Carré shows how political allegiances and racial identities have become more complex in the post-Cold War era. The ambivalence of Salvo’s identity and role as a spy is further suggested by the novel’s title. It most obviously alludes to Salvo’s having been raised in an African mission, where he forged his close relationship with Brother Michael. In this sense his “song” (the story) derives from that missionary background and anticipates his eventual acceptance of his African identity. However, the “mission” of the title can also refer to Salvo’s assignment as a



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secret interpreter and spy for the SIS, while to “sing” can also mean to inform and betray. In this sense, le Carré’s title alerts us to Salvo’s betrayal of his mission, and calls into question his reliability as a narrator. There have been clues throughout that Salvo may not be trustworthy, as when he abruptly reveals his adulterous relationship with Hannah at the end of the chapter describing his late arrival at Penelope’s promotion party: “I had inhaled the reheated body odours of a black African hospital nurse named Hannah with whom I had been making unbridled love commencing shortly after 11pm British Summer Time of the night before, and continuing up to the moment of my departure one hour and thirty-five minutes ago” (21). The meticulous recording of the timing of his marital betrayal leads the reader to think of Salvo as one who confuses accuracy with honesty. Salvo’s sporadic revelations about his sexual molestation by his mentor Brother Michael also lead us to question how much this “sound thief” is not telling us. As the epigraph from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness indicates, Mission Song is deeply engaged with the legacy of European colonialism in Africa, as well as the culture of secrecy that continues to prevail in the British government decades after the Cold War. Le Carré returns to the nefarious effects of this culture of secrecy—of course the actual Secret Service is only the tip of the iceberg—in A Delicate Truth (2012). At once embedded in and highly critical of the post-millennial “War Against Terror,” this novel also explores the corrupt connections of elected government officials with private defense contractors, in this case an organization ironically named “Ethical Outcomes” and headed by an enigmatic multi-millionaire Jay Crispin. Narrating a special counterterror operation, “Operation Wildlife,” that goes horribly wrong in the British colony of Gibraltar, le Carré shows the government using its powers of cover-up, blackmail, and bribery to prevent full disclosure of the tragic consequences. A short note provided by one of the injured British soldiers to the retired diplomat Sir Christopher (Kit) Probyn—whose code name in the debacle was Paul—sums up the novel’s indictment of injustice. To one innocent dead woman���������������������������������������������������������������nothing To one innocent dead child�������������������������������������������������������������������nothing To one soldier who did his duty����������������������������������������������������������disgrace To Paul��������������������������������������������������������������������������� one knighthood (152) Toby Bell, le Carré’s protagonist, represents a younger generation of government servant, who has come of age after the Cold War and who is deeply divided between loyalty to his government and his conscience. Kit’s daughter explains to Toby that her father and Jeb—the soldier—“are planning to produce a document about their exploits together, nature unknown.

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Their document will have earth-shattering consequences in official quarters. In other words, they will be whistle-blowers” (Delicate, 202). Toby’s ambivalence—Kit “sees you as a necessary evil. Is that because he doubts your allegiance to the cause?” (203)—represents the complexity and instability of all such “allegiances” in a world lacking in clear-cut political boundaries. One symptom of the challenges presented to the spy novel and film by the ending of the Cold War was the disappearance of the most familiar Cold War spy, James Bond, from the screen. Released only four months before the Berlin Wall crumbled, Licence to Kill (1989)—the second and final appearance by Timothy Dalton as the iconic spy—indicated that the Bond franchise had already moved on from the bewildering Cold War hall of mirrors to seek new dangers. Bond’s antagonist in this film is not a Soviet spy organization or SPECTRE terrorist but a Colombian drug lord named Sanchez. Where Dalton’s first film, The Living Daylights (1987), occupied the familiar territory of Eastern Europe—with excursions into Soviet occupied Afghanistan— Licence was set squarely in subtropics of the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and South America, representing a significant shift in geographical and ideological focus. The first Bond film not to use an Ian Fleming title, Licence presents Bond as a rogue agent who is launched on a “private vendetta” (as M calls it) against Sanchez for having tortured his CIA partner Felix Leiter and killed Leiter’s new wife.1 One might interpret Bond’s attempt, early in this film, to resign from the Secret Service—a request that is dismissed by M with the acerbic “We’re not a country club!”—as evidence of his having seen the writing on the (Berlin) wall, indicating that his purpose as an enemy of Communism was soon to become obsolete. The disappointing box office of the film may have accelerated Dalton’s departure from the role, as did the lukewarm critical reception: Screen International wrote “a question mark seems to hang over the whole future of the series as the jury remains out on this new-look ‘adult’ Bond” (cited in Chapman, 211). However, the main cause of the delay of the next film’s production was legal rather than political. As James Chapman writes, Albert R. “Cubby” “Broccoli’s company, Danjaq, which holds copyright in the Bond films, entered into a protracted legal dispute with MGM/UA Communications … which, it was alleged had sold video and television rights for the Bond films at a cut-price rate” (Licence, 211). By the time the dispute had been resolved and the script rewritten, Dalton had dropped out, leaving the way for Pierce Brosnan to enter as the new 007. It was perhaps appropriate that 007 should have taken this extended sabbatical while the world at large came to terms with the radically realigned politics of the post-Cold War era. Yet when he returned, in 1995’s GoldenEye, he seemed to have got stuck in the past and to remain branded as the Cold Warrior. The film’s opening sequence—featuring spectacular stunts and



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action—showed 007 on a mission with his colleague 006, during the Cold War, to destroy a Soviet Chemical weapons plant, presided over by a Soviet officer we will later know as General Ourumov. In the course of the mission, 006 (Alec Trevelyan—played by Sean Bean) is shot and apparently killed by Ourumov, leaving Bond to narrowly escape and go on to blame himself for his friend’s death. Though the film then leaps forward nine years, it is clear that Russia is still enemy #1 as far as SIS and the CIA are concerned. The satellite system known as GoldenEye—which Ourumov steals on behalf of the mysterious Janus—is a relic of the Cold War, and several scenes remind us of this recent history. One particularly striking scene takes place in a kind of graveyard of the Communist era, with discarded statues of Lenin, Stalin, et al., dumped in apparent ignominy. It is in this location that Bond meets Janus who, he discovers, is actually Trevelyan whose shooting was faked and who is now in league with the Russians. Visually, the scene suggests that Bond and Trevelyan are themselves obsolete, having been discarded like the statues onto the scrap heap of the Cold War. This is certainly the gist of Trevelyan’s cynical speech to Bond: “Did you ever ask why we toppled all those dictators, undermined all those regimes? Only to come home well done good job but sorry old boy everything you risked your life and limb for has changed” (GoldenEye). While Bond defends the actions of the 00s, the question has been raised as to whether the sacrifices of the Cold War were worth the human cost. Trevelyan has also questioned the relevance of Bond—whom he dubs “Her Majesty’s loyal terrier”—in the brave new world. He is not the only one to do so—Bond’s own boss M (now a female Chief, played by Judi Dench)—offers an even harsher assessment of the spy’s diminished value, calling him “a sexist misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War” (GoldenEye). Even with a new actor playing Bond, the film confronts the possibility of the obsolescence of the very franchise it is attempting to revitalize. Though the following three Bond films starring Brosnan would move progressively further away from the Cold War, the era hangs like a shadow over the series. In Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s first film in the role of Bond, Judi Dench’s M—again frustrated by her chief agent’s rogue tendencies—complains that “in the old days if an agent did something as stupid as that he’d have had the decency to defect. Christ, I miss the Cold War!” (Casino).2 The innovation of a female M reflected changes in the actual structure of British intelligence, most notably the appointment in 1992 of Stella Rimington as the first female Director General of MI5. On leaving her post, Rimington published a controversial memoir, Open Secret (2001), after which she turned her talents to writing spy fiction. Rimington’s central character, Liz Carlyle, is herself a senior MI5 agent though not, like Rimington, the director of the Service. In her introduction to Graham and Hugh Greene’s compilation

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The Spy’s Bedside Book, Rimington expressed “only one complaint” with the contents of the volume: “After everything we have done for spying, there is, apart from the obligatory reference to Mata Hari, hardly anything in this book about women!” (xx). Rimington’s complaint may be taken as a critique of the spy novel more generally, which has an undeniable and pronounced male bias. With her somewhat autobiographical protagonist, Rimington has created perhaps the first successful spy series to be based on a female agent. Rimington’s protagonist Liz Carlyle, who first appears in At Risk (2004), is a senior female agent in Britain’s Security Service, MI5, at a point in the agency’s history where it is focused less on espionage than on counterterrorism: she is a member of “The Joint Counter-Terrorist group” whose “purpose was to coordinate operations relating to terrorist networks and to set weekly intelligence targets” (9). Rimington sets the stage of a dramatically changed context with the post-9/11 intelligence world: “It [the committee] had been created immediately after the World Trade Center atrocity, following the Prime Minister’s insistence that there must be no question of terror-related intelligence being compromised by lack of communication or turf wars of any kind. This was not a point that anyone had been in a mood to argue with” (10). The opening of the novel shows Liz agonizing about a relationship that “could cost her her job” (6) as well as other matters: “After ten years of employment at Thames House, Liz had never satisfactorily resolved the clothes issue. The accepted look, which most people seemed gradually to fall into, lay somewhere between sombre and invisible” (4). It is difficult to imagine a male agent, whether James Bond or George Smiley, agonizing over what to wear to the office. Yet Liz’s skills as a field agent are indicated by her close observation of her fellow passengers on the train. Where the male agent is often self-absorbed, Liz seems to note the details around her: of one passenger we are told, “Liz ran a visual check on him in return, a process which was now second nature to her. He was dressed smartly, but with a subtly conservative fussiness which was not quite of the City. The upper slopes of academia, perhaps? No, the suit was handmade. Medicine?” (4). Rimington’s work marks a significant change in the portrayal of the female spy. No longer merely the bait in a honey-trap, or a highly sexualized Mata Hari figure, the female agent holds a highly important position in British intelligence. Though the Security Service is still a male-dominated world, the female spy no longer has to justify her right to be there. In the Acknowledgements to At Risk, Rimington notes of her protagonist, Liz Carlyle, “She is obviously in large part autobiographical but she also draws on a number of other female intelligence officers I have met during my professional career” (At Risk, 369). As these comments make clear, the female spy protagonist is no longer an aberration in spy fiction, but part of a



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significant trend. As Robert Lance Snyder notes, “her feminist slant reveals a latent skepticism about institutionalized espionage that is anticipated, ironically, by James Bond’s explanation of his profession to Vivienne Michel in Fleming’s The Spy Who Loved Me” (162). Comparing Rimington to le Carré, Snyder argues “although Rimington is not the equal of her distinguished peer in terms of thematic complexity, she traces in all her fiction the simmering rivalries, tensions, and mistrust between the two premier branches of England’s ‘Secret State’” (167). She also shows what it means to be a female spy in a secret world that, even after the Cold War, remains a maledominated enclave. In fact, like other contemporary spy novelists, Rimington’s work suggests that the Cold War is far from being finished business. In The Geneva Trap (2012), a Russian spy possesses information about a threatened cyber attack, but will only talk to Liz Carlyle of MI5 (again evoking the specter of the longstanding rivalry between the two “sister services” MI5 and SIS). The presence of a highly placed mole within Britain’s Ministry of Defence brings echoes of Tinker, Tailor and other Cold War novels of betrayal. Yet even in this novel, there is a noticeable emphasis on Liz’s determination to prove herself the equal of the male politicians and agents she works with, and a recurring sense of her feeling like an outsider. On a visit to the Ministry of Defence, we are told that Liz “disliked … all those stiff-backed men walking smartly up the steps to its grand door [who] made her feel like an alien” (Geneva 69). The “formally dressed woman” (70) who greets her also makes her feel like an outsider, advising her that the highest level of clearance, “Purple is only for the top brass—and all of us, of course” (70). Liz is dismayed to learn that she will be meeting with Henry Pennington, formerly of the Foreign Office, whom she finds “patronising but, worse, he was a panicker” (71). In the ensuing scene, Pennington attempts to show Liz “how very busy and important he was” (72). There is a certain satisfaction in the bad news that Liz delivers, “We have learned from a well-placed source … that the existence of Operation Clarity is known to the Russians and also to another foreign power” (72). On demanding access to the list of those employed on the Operation, Pennington’s attempt to block her on the grounds of insufficient clearance is met with calm self-assurance: “Well, you’d better get me cleared to Level God … you can try to block me if you like, but you’re just wasting your time—and holding up an important investigation” (73). There are echoes, with Liz’s scathing criticism of the upper-class male preserve of Whitehall, of Deighton’s Harry Palmer, who was something of an outsider due to his working-class background. But with her attention to the special challenges facing the female agent, Rimington gives a fresh approach to the spy thriller in the twenty-first century, even while she shows “the embers of the Cold War … about to reignite” (Geneva Trap, cover).

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The preoccupation with Cold War history and the legacy of betrayal is also apparent in the work of other contemporary spy novelists, such as Charles Cumming. Cumming’s work is significant in exploring the experiences of the new generation of spies who entered the Secret Service in the twenty-first century, and so faced the challenges of modern terrorism, including Islamic fundamentalist organizations such as al-Qaeda, rather than the geopolitical divide of East and West. Cumming’s first novel, A Spy by Nature (2001) drew on his own experiences of being approached for recruitment by SIS in the mid-1990s. His hero, Alec Milius, is recruited by SIS, allowing him to escape from a dead-end job and launch a potentially exciting new career as a spy. However, his assignment is to sell fake information on Caspian Sea oil reserves to the CIA, meaning that he is caught between British and American intelligence organizations. In the le Carré tradition, Cumming shows the corruption of a young agent’s ideals by the realpolitik of modern espionage. Also like le Carré and Deighton, Cumming tends to portray the British and American spy agencies as rivals or even enemies rather than as trusted allies. In A Foreign Country (2012) Cumming—following Rimington—updates the gender politics of intelligence agencies, by having the first female head of SIS, Amelia Levene, disappear only a few weeks before she is due to take up her appointment. In Thomas Kell, Cumming creates a fictional spy who, like Alec Leamas, has been ousted in disgrace by his own organization. However, Cumming’s most intriguing novel from the point of view of Cold War espionage is The Trinity Six (2011) which posits the existence of a sixth member of the Cambridge spy ring. Cumming’s protagonist, Sam Gaddis, is not a professional spy but an academic: a specialist in Russian history at University College, London, who like Richard Hannay stumbles by accident into a spy plot. In Gaddis’s case, his “recruitment” takes place through a journalist friend who is investigating the sixth member of the spy ring and asks for his help with the research. Gaddis—who has recently divorced his wife—is desperately short of money and sees the “sixth man” story as a lucrative option. However, the death of his journalist friend—apparently from a heart attack—leaves Gaddis with sole responsibility for pursuing the story. The object of his enquiry is Edward Crane, a British diplomat who apparently died in 1992. However, in the course of his investigation Gaddis discovers that the facts surrounding Crane’s death are far from straightforward, and becomes involved in a government cover-up that includes the head of SIS, Sir John Brennan. By placing an amateur spy at the center of his narrative, Cumming creates a modern example of an outsider to the intelligence bureaucracy: such nonprofessionals “aren’t as resourceful and they can’t call upon the expertise that an MI5 or MI6 officer could. They are ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances” (Author’s website).



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The Trinity Six displays the hold that the Cold War still has on contemporary British society and government. In particular, the Cambridge spy ring is portrayed as a still-vital component of British culture, and the government’s willingness to protect the identities of traitors—cover-ups that long delayed the public exposures of Philby, Blunt, and Cairncross—is shown to be still relevant to the modern age. Bond’s comment to M in GoldenEye regarding the Russian cover up of the missing satellite—“Governments change, the lies stay the same”—can apply to the scenario of The Trinity Six. The novel shows that the British class system, like the culture of secrecy in the higher echelons of government, has not been significantly altered by the end of the Cold War or the new millennium. Rather than viewing the Cold War as a bygone era with little relevance to the political and terrorist threats of the twenty-first century, Cumming shows that the secrets of the past remain potent and threatening and that those in power are willing to kill, to protect their status. The novel exemplifies the continuities of Cumming’s work with earlier authors such as le Carré and Deighton, while also offering a new generation’s take on the Cambridge Five. In one of the novel’s stunning revelations, Gaddis discovers from a “friend” of Crane’s—a man named Neame—that the “sixth man” was a far more complex figure than Gaddis has realized: “Eddie was a double, Sam. That’s what I’ve been wanting to tell you. ATTILA was the greatest postwar coup in the history of the SIS and only a few men on the face of this Earth know about it. Eddie Crane spent thirty years convincing Moscow he was working for the KGB, but in all that time, he was secretly working for us. Isn’t that marvelous? It was an epic of disinformation” (Trinity, 113).3 Of course, the attacks by al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001 brought new urgency and aggression to the War against Terror, which had been pursued by British and American governments in the 1990s. The worst terrorist attack on US soil, resulting in the deaths of thousands and never-to-be-forgotten images of collapsing buildings, demanded severe reprisals as the US spearheaded an invasion of Afghanistan and war against the Taliban. For the spy novelist, a new enemy had not so much been born—al-Qaeda had launched various terrorist attacks on US targets before 9/11—as brought into urgent focus. As Applebaum and Paknadel note, “Since the end of 2001, it would seem, emphasis has shifted again, and perhaps fiction’s entire relation to terrorism has undergone a sea change … the number of novels on terrorism has continued to increase from year to year, and many openly post-9/11 novels have appeared, tales that thematize the events of September 11 or that try to explicate what it means to live in a post-9/11 world” (“Terrorism,” 396). The challenge of the fictional spy has tended to focus on the hydra-headed enemy of the extremist Islamic

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terrorist organization, rather than any specific nation-state with a clearly defined political and economic center (such as Moscow or Berlin). Since late 2001, a new generation of spy novelists has emerged for whom the Cold War is, if not a distant memory, a somewhat abstract notion. In particular the burgeoning of spy fiction by American novelists has shifted the focus of the genre from Cold War Europe to the US, the Middle East, and Asia. Yet there remain clear traces of earlier political alignments and conflicts: David Ignatius’s Body of Lies (2007), for example, while focusing on a CIA agent, Roger Ferris, who has to penetrate the Middle Eastern terror network of a leader known as “Suleiman,” deploys a deception plot used by the British Secret Service in World War II. From the novel’s epigraph–Lord Ismay’s foreword to Ewen Montagu’s The Man Who Never Was–to explicit references later in the novel, Ignatius discloses that his plot derives from Operation Mincemeat. In this operation a corpse was given a fake identity as William Martin and dropped into the Mediterranean with a briefcase of forged “secret” documents, in order to convince the Germans that the Allies planned to invade Greece rather than Sicily. Ferris recycles this plot to use a corpse of an imaginary CIA officer, in order to convince Suleiman that the CIA has an agent within his ranks. There are other ways in which the work of post-9/11 American spy novelists maintains strong links with Europe and, especially, British espionage. To some extent we may interpret this as an attempt to bestow greater legitimacy on the new generation by establishing its credentials as heirs to the British masters of spy fiction: comparisons with the work of le Carré, Deighton, and Greene are de rigueur in the publicity for the new series of espionage novels. Yet there is more to this connection than a marketing device: rather it shows that the European theater of political intrigue, which took center stage during the Cold War, has remained relevant and fascinating in the new millennium. A prime example of the new blend of American, European, and Middle Eastern contexts for spy fiction is the work of US novelist Daniel Silva. Silva is American, based in Washington D.C., but his protagonist, Gabriel Allon, is an Israeli spy working for Mossad. Like Fleming’s James Bond, le Carrés George Smiley, Deighton’s Bernard Samson, or Rimington’s Liz Carlyle, Allon appears in a series of novels and his character and role evolve in the course of the series. Unlike the other serial agents, however, Allon’s political ties are with the Middle East rather than Britain. And yet, culturally, one can argue that Allon is a European, and this has significant political implications in his missions. By choice—and profession—Allon is a restorer of European art, and many of the novels in which he appears begin with him in the midst of a restoration project. The Rembrandt Affair is perhaps the most complex interweaving of his restoration of a masterpiece by the Dutch artist, and his involvement in a



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mission to sabotage Iran’s fast-growing nuclear program. Silva often plays on the contrast between Allon’s artistic work, in which he repairs damage caused by time and neglect, and his spy work in which he wreaks destruction on his nation’s enemies. There is further personal significance to Allon’s work as a restorer, as his wife and child were the victims of a terrorist car bomb in Vienna, resulting in the death of his son and the crippling of his wife. Hence Allon’s attempt to repair the damage of the past has a psychic and emotional dimension. In these respects, Allon is closer to George Smiley—with his researches into seventeenth-century German literature and his irrevocably damaged marriage—than to James Bond.4 Like Smiley, Allon is a reluctant spy, having to be called out of retirement—which he spends on his restoration projects—by appealing to his patriotism and professional pride. If Allon’s art restoration establishes him as a cultural European, he has strong ties to England, living in a remote part of Cornwall for several years. Though he works for Mossad—of which he appears to be a chiefin-waiting—Allon has strong connections to the British political establishment. This is nowhere clearer than in The English Girl, the title referring to Madeline Hart, the aide to British Prime Minister Jonathan Lancaster who is kidnapped while on holiday in Corsica. Both with the female protagonist’s name, and with the secrets about her true identity that emerge in the course of the story, The English Girl offers various allusions to Hitchcock’s Vertigo in which detective Scottie Ferguson is hired by a rich shipping magnate, Gavin Elster, to investigate a mystery about his wife. In Allon’s case, he is recruited by Lancaster to investigate the disappearance of Hart, who is his lover as well as his assistant. Silva powerfully links Allon’s role in this British political scandal to previous missions in espionage: After a lifetime of service in the secret world, Gabriel had lost count of the number of times he had entered a room in crisis. The nature and setting didn’t seem to matter; it was always the same. One man pacing the carpet, another staring numbly out a window, and still another trying desperately to appear calm and in control, even when there was no control to be had. In this case, the room was the White Drawing Room at Number Ten (169).

Allon works in close collaboration with Graham Seymour of MI5 and seems to be a de facto British agent, representing the interests of the British establishment in attempting to prevent a political disaster. In some respects The English Girl also returns to the Cold War scenario of East-West conflict, with its Russian antagonist, Viktor Orlov, “born in Moscow during the darkest days of the Cold War” who “had worked as a physicist in the Soviet nuclear weapons program” (298). However, Orlov—now a multimillionaire oil tycoon—is very much the beneficiary of the collapse of the Soviet

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Union, and represents the new capitalist ethos of the East. Yet the blurring between past and present formations and organizations of Russia is apparent when Allon discovers that he is not alone in investigating Madeline Hart’s disappearance, as he hears her room being violently searched by an officer of the KGB. As Silva explains, Technically there was no KGB, of course. It had been disbanded not long after the collapse of the old Soviet empire. The Russian Federation now had two intelligence services: the FSB and the SVR … even Russian citizens still referred to the SVR as the KGB. And for good reason. The Kremlin might have changed the name of Russia’s intelligence service, but the SVR’s mission remained the same—to penetrate and weaken the nations of the old Atlantic alliance, with the United States and Great Britain at the top its list (290).

Silva creates a sense of déjà vu with his exposure of the old enemy taking on new forms. If his excursus on the “new” KGB suggests that in matters of espionage, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” there remains the question of Allon’s motivation for his involvement in this renewal of Cold War hostilities. The most pressing concern of Orlov—who has a London base in Chelsea—is the potential loss of his oil company under the regime of the new Russian president, who “believed that Viktor Orlov and the other oligarchs had stolen the country’s most valuable assets, and it was his intention to steal them back” (299). Russia, through the state-owned company of Volgatek Oil and Gas—referred to as “KGB Oil & Gas” (342)–now has designs on Britain’s North Sea oil reserves, the loss of which would be an economic and political disaster for Britain in general and Jonathan Lancaster in particular. By shifting the scene of a political and sexual scandal from the US to Britain, Silva evokes the age of the Profumo affair of the 1960s, which brought to an end Macmillan’s Conservative government. Yet the reasons for Mossad’s involvement in the case are less clear, and Allon functions as a British agent--or a kind of Israeli James Bond--in this adventure, saving the remnants of Britain’s glorious past from further decline. Perhaps, with Allon’s promotion to the leadership of Mossad apparently imminent, and with the revelation that Chiara is pregnant and that “he’s going to be a father again” (520), a final adventure reminiscent of the world’s most famous bachelor spy is a necessary rite of passage. Bond himself has also undergone a significant transformation since 9/11. In his literary life, the close association between the films and “novelizations” by authors such as Raymond Benson and John Gardner, has been broken in favor of a more autonomous textual career. In place of the “serial” Bond authors, Ian Fleming Publications has appointed established literary authors to write a one-off Bond adventure. Sebastian Faulks’s Devil May Care (2008), returns Bond to the Cold War doing battle with a megalomaniac



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pharma magnate, Dr. Julius Gorner. William Boyd’s Solo (2013)—marking the sixtieth anniversary of Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale—takes Bond into new territory as he is sent to the (imaginary) West African nation of Zanzarim in order to thwart the rebels in a brutal civil war. Boyd—whose previous spy novels include Restless and Waiting for Sunrise—sends Bond to the vast continent that Fleming never deployed in his fiction. However, Boyd retains the Cold War setting—the action begins in 1969—perhaps renewing questions about Bond’s legitimacy and relevance to twenty-first-century espionage. At his African hotel he is reminded of “the Excelsior Gateway’s colonial past” (54) and the legacy of European imperialism is very evident in the conspiracy that Bond uncovers. With the requisite Bond girl–a “pale-skinned Zanzari” (60) woman, E.B. Ogilvy-Grant, who goes by the name of Blessing (allowing Bond to make various puns)—Bond launches into an international postcolonial conspiracy but his roots, as the opening of the novel makes clear, are in World War II. Bond dreams of his experiences in 30AU, the intelligence-gathering Commando unit that Ian Fleming created and managed during World War II, and whose various missions of derring-do provided him with materials for the James Bond adventures he penned during the last ten years of his life. While it is a clever twist to introduce this biographical material of Fleming’s into Bond’s history, it does somewhat limit the plausibility of Bond as an agent in the post-9/11 world. Boyd’s fidelity to the chronology of Bond he inherits from Fleming—in an Author’s note he says “I have been governed by the details and chronology of James Bond’s life that were published in the ‘obituary’ in You Only Live Twice” (ix)—has the drawback of prohibiting Bond from entering the modern world. Olen Steinhauer argued that the very “hollowness” of Fleming’s Bond was an advantage in that he is “a template that can be reshaped to suit the times” (“You Only Live Forever,” 13). Indeed there is some evidence that Bond’s reactions to postcolonial disaster—the skeletons of famine victims in Zanzarim—and to women, particularly the independent Blessing—place him in our age rather than Fleming’s. In his cinematic existence, Bond has not been tied to the same chronology that has limited Faulks and Boyd to the twentieth century. By presenting Daniel Craig’s first film in the role, Casino Royale (2006), as a “reboot” of the Bond franchise, the producers and director Martin Campbell are able to return us to the origins of Bond’s career as a 00-agent. The pre-title sequence—shot in monochrome to indicate that it is from an earlier era—shows Bond confronting a corrupt SIS station chief in Prague, who cockily states that M can’t be sure he is a traitor or she’d have sent a 00 to deal with him, a status that requires two kills. As it turns out, the station chief himself becomes the second of Bond’s kills, promoting him to the status of 007. If this opening sequence implies that the film—like the novel on which it is based—will be set in the

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Cold War, the ensuing action in Uganda and Madagascar soon disabuses us of this notion. The film’s villain, Le Chiffre, is not a Soviet agent (as in Fleming’s novel) but an independent crook who uses his vast profits from shady investments to fund terrorist. While the heart of the Bond vs Le Chiffre conflict takes place across the card table (as in Fleming’s novel) the game itself has been updated from baccarat to Texas Hold’em Poker, reflecting wider popular knowledge of this game. Similarly, Vesper Lynd remains Bond’s associate on the mission, but she is no longer a SIS agent, instead representing the Treasury Department: as she expresses it, “I’m the money” (Casino). Casino Royale reflects the ambivalence of the Bond franchise in the twenty-first century towards the Cold War origins of the spy hero. While it is an adaptation of Fleming’s novel—the first Bond film since Dr No to proclaim itself “based on Ian Fleming’s novel”—it updates the hero, giving him an edgier, modern appearance and a more developed physique than any of the previous screen incarnations. The throwaway remarks and flippant witticisms of the Brosnan and Moore eras are eschewed by Craig’s Bond. The film also significantly increases the amount and intensity of the violence, reflecting in part the challenge of other action films to Bond’s dominance, such as the Bourne films and Mission Impossible series. In order to maintain its popular appeal, the Bond films have adapted to the modern audience’s expectations of graphic violence and state-of-the-art technology and stunts. This ability to evolve in tandem with contemporary tastes has always been the hallmark of the Bond franchise, and the twenty-first-century 007 is no different in this respect. One of the first fatalities of Craig’s era as Bond is a terrorist he shoots in Madagascar, violating the sanctuary status of a foreign embassy in order to do so. It is this flagrant defiance of protocol that prompts M to wish Bond would defect and to utter, “God I miss the Cold War.” While the planned terrorist attack on a jetliner strikes a chord with twenty-first-century anxieties, there are no ideological or religious purposes behind this terrorist. The operation code-named “ellipsis”—destroying the prototype of Skyfleet which Le Chiffre has bet against on the stock market—is designed exclusively to enrich Le Chiffre. Moreover, Vesper’s betrayal of Bond has nothing to do with the Soviet Union, but is a result of the kidnapping of her lover by the organization known as “Quantum.” Quantum of Solace (2008) is the clearest example of a direct sequel in the Bond film series, beginning precisely where Casino leaves off—with Bond’s shooting and kidnapping of the enigmatic Mr. White. Unlike its predecessor, Quantum has no connection, apart from the title, with Fleming’s story of the same name, but uses the name to identify a sinister international organization that has managed to penetrate British intelligence. M’s own bodyguard proves to be a Quantum agent, almost resulting in her assassination, and we later learn that a British Cabinet minister, named Guy Haines, is also a



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Quantum mole.5 With such instances of enemy penetration of Britain’s security services, the film inevitably invokes an earlier era of East-West conflict. However, the enemy in Quantum has been updated to reflect contemporary concerns with the environment: Dominic Greene, multi-millionaire founder and CEO of “Green Planet,” is an apparent environmental activist and philanthropist who is actually a ruthless exploiter of the environment, working with a corrupt Bolivian general to divert the nation’s water supply. If environmental disaster has supplanted nuclear annihilation in the Bond universe as the most menacing threat to human survival, so water has displaced oil (the precious resource behind such classic conspiracy theories as Three Days of the Condor [1975]) as the world’s most valuable natural commodity. If the nature of the enemy has changed in recent Bond films, there is less evidence that Bond’s methods or temperament have dramatically altered. He can still be accused of being a “paid assassin,” and continues to show a ruthless lack of sentiment, for example in his disposal of his “friend” Mathis’s corpse in a Bolivian dumpster. The most significant alteration in Bond’s screen persona occurs in his relationship with M, however. If during the Pierce Brosnan era the M-Bond relationship could be termed ambivalent, in Craig’s era it has become flagrantly hostile. Bond breaks into M’s private residence on more than one occasion (Casino and Skyfall) and is given no friendly welcome: in fact M tells him “don’t ever break into my home again” (Casino) and advises him “you’re bloody well not sleeping here” (Skyfall). In Quantum, Bond’s 00-privileges are revoked by M and he goes rogue, escaping only by beating up other security officers. At the beginning of Skyfall, Bond is on a mission in Istanbul, where his every move is communicated to, and controlled by, M who communicates to Bond’s earpiece via satellite from London. The gentlemanly trust that allowed Bernard Lee’s M to leave Bond to use his own judgment on a mission has been replaced by absolute surveillance and micromanagement. Judi Dench’s M also shows a callous ruthlessness towards her own agents, ordering Bond to abandon a dying fellow agent in Istanbul. Even more traumatically, M orders Bond’s female colleague—whom we will later learn is Eve Moneypenny—to “take the shot” as Bond does battle with the enemy agent, Patrice, atop a moving train. This shot hits Bond instead of its intended target, sending him (apparently fatally wounded) plummeting into the Bosphorus. Bond’s return from the dead is a familiar device in the series, but M’s role in causing Bond’s “death” in Skyfall is unprecedented. Firstly, M’s order to shoot, and Bond’s understandable resentment at this decision, hovers over the film like a dark shadow. Secondly, the plot of Skyfall centers on a plan by another betrayed former SIS agent, Silva, to kill M in revenge for her betrayal. As discussed in a previous chapter, Silva’s vendetta against M can be interpreted as an expression of Bond’s suppressed vengeful rage against

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his Chief. But in fact the villain’s attack on M brings Bond and his chief closer together, as they take to the Scottish Highlands in Bond’s now-classic Aston Martin. It is, ironically, the very threat to M’s life—making her in a sense dependent on her agent—that introduces a more personal dimension to their relationship. Where Silva tries to portray himself and Bond as mirrorimages—two “rats” that can either turn on each other, or team up to destroy the evil “mother” that betrayed them—Bond rejects this scenario, to reconcile with M and defend her from the enemy. Of course, M’s death at the end of the film terminates their rocky relationship and ushers in a new era of patriarchal dominance. Another sign of the Bond franchise seeking to update some of its key characters and move beyond the stereotyped gender roles of the early films is the expanded role of Moneypenny. Having been absent from Craig’s first two Bond films, Moneypenny (played by Naomie Harris) returns to action as a field agent, driving with Bond in pursuit of Patrice in Istanbul. She also accompanies Bond to Macau where it is strongly implied that, for the first time in the franchise’s history, she and Bond become lovers. Yet, far from becoming a mere “Bond girl,” she saves Bond’s life when he is attacked in the Macau casino, and her more active role in the film may be a response to the trend in female-centered spy movies such as Phillip Noyce’s Salt (2010) and Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire (2011).6 In such films, the central female spy is also an active and violent agent, capable of defending herself from male betrayal and equal to any physical force from her masculine counterparts. However, Moneypenny is later returned to desk duty, apparently confirming Bond’s advice that “being a field agent isn’t for everyone.” Arguably, her glaring incompetence in shooting Bond instead of Patrice in the film’s opening sequence, undermines her credibility as a field agent from the outset and Bond’s later comment that “I feel much safer” with Moneypenny behind a desk seems to confirm that this is her proper place. Combined with the replacement of Judi Dench’s M by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) at the conclusion, the film leaves the distinct impression that a patriarchal hierarchy has been restored and that Bond greets this return to male dominance “with pleasure” (his final words in the film). If Skyfall then displays a palpable nostalgia for an eroded patriarchal structure within the Security Services—and perhaps society more generally—this may be part of a wider sense of regret, manifested in spy novels and films, at the passing of the Cold War.7 It is striking that two of the most high-profile espionage films in the second decade of the twenty-first century—Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) and John Madden’s The Debt (2010)—both return to the height of the Cold War, devoting considerable attention to recreating the visual atmosphere and tension of the era. Alfredson’s film, condensing le Carré’s labyrinthine plot



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into a mere 127 minutes, conveys a bleakness and impression of mundane bureaucracy that is a far cry from even the muted glamor of Craig’s Bond. The film does perhaps suggest a more contemporary awareness with certain character changes—Peter Guillam, who is a womanizer in le Carré’s novel, is portrayed as gay in Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance. The role of Ann, George Smiley’s estranged wife, is minimized in the film, making her a shadowy background figure rather than a central component of Smiley’s battle with the mole. Alfredson’s film makes explicit that the shot that eventually kills the traitor Bill Haydon is fired by his betrayed former friend, Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong), providing a definitive closure that le Carré’s novel rejects. Ultimately the film is less a homage to le Carré’s text than an attempted reconstruction of the tarnished, paranoia-inflected culture of Cold War secrecy from which the novel emerged. The Debt uses a dual narrative perspective to show the enduring legacy of traumatic Cold War betrayals and deceptions. Like Boyd’s Restless, the film deploys this double narrative to show that the modern era remains haunted by the polarized politics of the Cold War. Beginning at a book signing event in Tel Aviv, 1997, where former Mossad agent Rachel Singer (Helen Mirren) publicizes her account of a heroic mission in Berlin thirty years earlier, the film uses flashbacks to show the reality of the mission which went horribly wrong. Having failed, due to disastrous incompetence, to extract a notorious Nazi war criminal from East Berlin, Singer and her colleagues, Stephan Gold and David Peretz, attempt to hold the criminal captive until they find another chance to remove him back to Israel. The film practices deception techniques of its own to contrast the “myth” of Mossad’s operational brilliance with the reality of its tragic failure. In some ways the film offers a critical reflection on the Cold War and our tendency to construct myths and fantasies about the nature of espionage missions that took place. The Debt also offers, or seems to, the possibility of redemption and atonement for the corrupt actions of the past. Yet even as it debunks some of the myths of the Cold War era, Madden’s film reinforces the idea that the true possibility of heroic action existed for a previous generation but has been lost in the modern era. Like Judi Dench’s M, these films seem to “miss the Cold War.” The global terrorist threat of al-Qaeda and other extremist Islamic terrorist organizations would, one might imagine, have provided ample material to spy novelists in the twenty-first century. Forsyth’s The Afghan (2006) redeploys an earlier spy hero, Mike Martin (from The Fist of God), sending him this time into Afghanistan where he penetrates al-Qaeda, taking the role of Izmat Khan, a former commander of the Taliban who is now held in Guantanamo Bay prison. The starting point for Forsyth’s novel is not the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. but the suicide bombings that took place in central London on July 7, 2005. Forsyth thus evokes the

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fear of hostile foreign presence within Britain that had defined and generated the spy novel a century earlier: the terrorists “had been radicalized, or brainwashed, into extreme fanaticism, not abroad but right in the heart of England, after attending extremist mosques and listening to similar preachers” (Afghan, 9–10). Forsyth’s novel takes as its premise another impending terrorist attack, the “Al-Isra operation” (61) whose planners the British SIS are unable to track down. In a replay of the scenario of The Fist of God, the SIS is led to Mike Martin—now retired from the SAS and restoring a Hampshire farmhouse–by a thoughtless remark by his brother Terry, now a visiting professor of Arabic studies at Georgetown University. Noting that anyone attempting to penetrate al-Qaeda “would have to be CV perfect. Add to that he would have to look the part, speak the part and, most important, pray the part” (63), Terry Martin notes that his brother is the one Westerner who “can pass for an Arab among Arabs” (63), leading to his recruitment in the counterterrorist operation. This concept of an undercover spy penetrating al-Qaeda is a recycling of the older idea of covert agents working within an enemy spy organization. Indeed, as Applebaum and Paknadel argue, “a great many works are still adopting motifs and plots and even ideas about terrorism developed in the 1970s and 1980s, if not earlier (How different, after all, is Forsyth’s “Afghan,” but for his Afghani disguise, from the secret agents of Cold War fiction?) (“Terrorism,” 396). This resemblance may, of course, be just Forsyth’s point. In an authorial aside, Forsyth questions the idea that the collapse of the Soviet Empire has resulted in an essentially altered, less conflict-ridden world: “The end of the Cold War in 1991 led to the asinine presumption among politicians on both sides of the Atlantic that peace had come at last and come to stay. That was precisely the moment that the new Cold War, silent and hidden in the depths of Islam, was having its birth pangs” (Afghan, 20–1). In the same year as The Afghan, Alex Berenson published The Faithful Spy (2006), also featuring a Westerner who, due to his ability to pass as an Arab, has unique value to the intelligence services. Berenson’s CIA agent, John Wells, has immersed himself in Arab culture and has succeeded in penetrating al-Qaeda: “After years fighting jihad in Afghanistan and Chechnya, he spoke perfect Arabic and Pashtun. His beard was long, his hands callused. He rode a horse almost as well as the natives—no outsider could truly ride like an Afghan—and he played buzkashi, the rough polo game they loved, as hard as they did. He prayed with them” (Faithful, 3). Like Forsyth, Berenson recognizes that the ability to merge with the Arab community necessitates practicing religion, and John Wells has in fact converted to Islam. When he returns to the CIA at Langley and confesses “I’m Muslim … That’s my Koran” (114), this causes his superior officers Shafer and Duto to suspect his loyalty to the Agency and to America, believing that al-Qaeda “let me live



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because I turned” (119). Berenson plays on the meanings of his title, leading us to question whether Wells is a “faithful spy” in that he remains loyal to the US, or whether he is “faithful” in being a devout Muslim now committed to jihad against the US. Berenson also deploys Wells’s dual perspective to comment at some length on differences between the complexities of espionage in the twenty-first century and the Cold War: He regretted not having been a spy during the Cold War. Back then the game had possessed a certain formal elegance. The agency and KGB had existed almost outside their governments, playing three-dimensional chess on a board only they could see. Neither side really expected the other to blow up the world, and proxy soldiers in Africa and Central America fought the nastiest battles. A few unlucky Soviet moles got executed, but not the spooks themselves. The biggest penalty for failure was expulsion, maybe a nasty Select Intelligence Committee hearing. No more. Get caught by the wrong guys today and you wound up dead, a video of your beheading on the Internet for the world to see. And the bad guys really would blow up the world if they could. Invisible ink and pinhole cameras were cute tricks for an easier time. (Faithful, 177–8)

The virtually simultaneous publication of these two novels—one American, one British—featuring a trained Western intelligence officer who passes as an Afghan, shows the resilience of the trope of undercover work well into the twenty-first century. Both works return us to the origin of the spy novel in Kipling’s Kim, with the Sahib boy spy who can pass as an Indian in the bazaar. If on the one hand the enemy has undergone frequent transformations and mutations in spy fiction—making the twentieth century appear “an easier time”—on the other, the post-millennial spy story, with its continuing references to the espionage “game,” has come full circle. NOTES 1. To some extent this film’s scenario replays the tragic conclusion of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where Blofeld attempts to assassinate Bond but instead kills Bond’s new bride Tracy. However, Licence begins (rather than concludes) the story with this murder, using it as a pretext for Bond’s subsequent rogue action. 2. Another successful film series that began in the mid-1990s displayed a nostalgia for the cloak-and-dagger aspects of the Cold War: Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible (1996) begins in Prague where the team of IMF agents attempts to retrieve the NOC (Non-Official Cover) list of agents before an enemy spy can steal it. The themes of the still unpredictable and dangerous world behind the Iron Curtain, combined with betrayal by a trusted friend/colleague, link the film with GoldenEye in displaying a sense of nostalgia.

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3. The ambiguity surrounding the true allegiance of Edward Crane has echoed of Fiona Samson in Len Deighton’s novels, as well as of Hans Dieter Mundt from The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. In this respect and others, Cumming’s work clearly draws on the narratives of intrigue by his predecessors. 4. A significant difference is that Allon has another relationship with a fellowagent, Chiara, who provides him with solace for his broken marriage. In this respect, Allon resembles Bernard Samson caught between his wife Fiona—who appears to defect to the East—and his younger lover Gloria Kent, who also works for London Central. 5. The film borrows this name from the hero of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), further evoking the Cold War atmosphere. Guy was also of course the first name of one of the Cambridge spies, Guy Burgess, who defected to Moscow with Donald Maclean in 1951. 6. In Noyce’s film, CIA’s Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is accused of being a Russian spy by a defector, and goes on the run, violently defending herself against the Agency’s attempts to bring her in. In Soderbergh’s film, Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a black ops agent who is betrayed by her own organization and seeks revenge. Interestingly both films portray the female spy as a betrayed victim of male conspiracy, unleashing a level of violence that at least matches that of male action heroes such as Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt. The trend for female-centered action spy films can be traced back further, to Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita (1990) but the twenty-firstcentury renaissance of the female spy is a more direct influence on Moneypenny. 7. The film’s ambivalence toward this depleted patriarchal structure can be detected in Bond’s mixed feelings about his ancestral family home, Skyfall. He refuses to talk about it to the SIS shrink during his tests prior to a return to active service. However he selects Skyfall as the safest refuge to take M when her life is threatened by Silva, and—with the assistance of the old steward—turns the home into an effective fortress. Yet ultimately Bond destroys the building, announcing “I always hated this place.”

Conclusion

Predicting the future is, and always has been, an essential part of espionage. Ultimately the purpose of gathering intelligence is to anticipate the hostile actions of another state or terrorist organization before they occur. This has always been reflected in the spy story that evolved in tandem with intelligence bureaus. In Kipling’s novel Colonel Creighton, anticipating a native insurrection in the northern states of India, sends Kim to the region to gather intelligence about Russian involvement. Davies, in Childers’s Riddle of the Sands, suspects a German plot to invade Britain and so recruits his friend Carruthers to explore the Frisian Islands and investigate. The most successful deception plots—such as Operation Mincemeat in World War II—also involved manipulating the enemy’s desire to anticipate hostile action. By convincing the Germans that the Allies planned to attack Southern Europe via Greece or Sardinia, rather than the actual invasion target of Sicily, the Operation led to a massive redeployment of military forces in anticipation of an attack that never took place. Of course, the gifts of anticipation cut both ways. Nicholas Elliott, who so successfully ran Section V, the counterintelligence SIS, in Istanbul during World War II (Jeffery, 502), was, according to Ben Macintyre, a gifted predictor of the future. Becoming, improbably and long after his official retirement, an unofficial political advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “his political antennae were impeccable: after the break up of the Soviet Union, he correctly predicted the emergence of an authoritarian government in Russia; he foresaw the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of Iranian aggression, and the growing economic and political clout of China” (A Spy, 283). And yet Elliott failed to detect the massive betrayals of his close friend and fellow-spy Kim Philby over the course of a close thirty-year friendship. Elliott, it seems, also failed to anticipate Philby’s defection to Moscow in 321

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1963. Or did he? In conversation with Elliott—who went to confront Philby with his knowledge of the betrayal in Beirut—John le Carré asked what his “sanctions [were] if he didn’t cooperate? ... What you could threaten him with in the extreme case. Could you have had him sandbagged, for instance, and flown to London” (A Spy, 292). Elliott’s reply—“Nobody wanted him in London, old boy” (292)—leaves open the possibility that Philby’s defection suited nobody better than the British SIS, who feared another high-profile spy scandal so soon after George Blake. Philby, of course, like his friends Burgess and Maclean, had anticipated the end of the line and flown to Moscow. This complex process of anticipation and counter-anticipation has been woven into the very form of the spy novel. In novels such as The Devil’s Alternative, The Fourth Protocol, and Icon, Frederick Forsyth sets the plot in the near future, in effect offering a prediction of forthcoming political and military developments. Whether such predictions prove true or not is less significant than the frisson the reader experiences of knowing (at least in theory) something others do not. This sense of privileged access is surely a key to the spy story’s enduring popularity: the “secret world” that we so often feel is hidden from us in actuality, is shown to us in the spy novel and film with stunning clarity. Yet predicting the future course and development of the spy novel itself is far from straightforward. While Len Deighton claims to have anticipated that the Berlin Wall would come down by the end of the twentieth century (“Introduction,” Hope, viii) he admits that basing his novels on this was “a reckless gamble” (viii) and that “tying a story to events is not something to be undertaken lightly” (x). Many were caught off-guard by the rapidity of events in Berlin, and by the velocity of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Likewise, despite significant warnings of an impending major terrorist attack by al-Qaeda on the US, few in the intelligence community—or even outside it—would have had the temerity to claim they predicted the events of 9/11. The obvious reason: if they could predict it, why could they not prevent it? What seems clear is that the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as well as those of 7/7 2005 in London, dramatica