24 March 2011

Ian Fleming. Rebel without a cause...3

In his  biography of Fleming, Andrew Lycett reveals that in 1928 Fleming self published a book of poems The Black Daffodil - a 'slim, black volume'. He showed it to his best friend from Eton Ivar Bryce but, as Lycett says '...later became so embarrassed by its juvenile contents that he rounded up and burned every copy.' Bryce, who came up with the anagram 'Fine Lingam' for Fleming's name, also house hunted 'Goldeneye' in Jamaica for him and in the TV movie Goldeneye is played by Patrick Ryecart. If alive he would be about 103 and could well have a copy. Other possible holders of the book would be Fleming girlfriends of the time. Young men tend to publish slim volumes to impress girls (or boys) or because they are in love -- one account of the book refers to the poems as 'romantic.' At this time Fleming was very keen on Rupert Hart Davis's 'beautiful, doe-eyed' sister Deirdre (later Deirdre Bland). In an unlikely connection with the yellow 90s she had, at the age of eight, attracted the notice of the poet Arthur Symons in the Cafe Royal. He wrote these lines for her: 

She had taken my hand, then turned
Her eyes on me, pure as the sky.
If ever a man's heart to her yearned,
Mine did, I know not why. 
At the age of 18 Fleming sent her several poems including these agonised lines 'If the wages of sin are Death/ I am willing to pay...I am so weary of the curse of living/ The endless, aimless torture, tumult, fears.' Such lines possible made it into The Black Daffodil. Fleming was undoubtedly (as The Times obituary said of Dodi Fayed) a 'chick magnet' and at that time was at university in Geneva and frequented the ski resorts of Megeve and Kitzbuhel Switzerland. It is not impossible that he gave copies of his book to one or more of his lovers there...must check the English sections in the old bookshops around Lake Geneva. Another huge rarity would be a bound copy of a translation Fleming had made of Klaus Mann's Anja and Esther. Fleming's mother was so proud of this piece that she had it typed up and bound in 'handsome black card' with Ian's name on the cover as translator. Lycett does not state whether there was more than one copy made but says 'Ian's first publication had been completed...'

Somewhere on the web I found this claim made about the genesis of Casino Royale:
'Its origins can be traced back to his first book, which was about as far removed from James Bond as possible — a collection of romantic poems called The Black Daffodil. He destroyed every copy, believing the contents were worthless compared with the mature output of his brother Peter, who was intellectually brilliant in a way he could never match. (If any example escaped the cull, it would be worth a fortune.) A sibling rivalry developed, particularly after Peter went to Oxford, whereas Ian, deemed B-stream material by his demanding mother, was shunted off to Sandhurst. Later, Peter wrote witty books about his travels while Ian vegetated…'

As mentioned in the last post Aleister Crowley may well have been an input in the creation of Fleming's first great villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. When in WW2 Fleming was working in Naval Intelligence he had conceived the idea of using the Great Beast's assistance in the interrogation of the nazi Rudolf Hess (something of an occultist) who had parachuted into Scotland in 1941. It was overruled and came to nothing, but his first biographer Pearson had sight of a good letter from Crowley to Fleming on the subject. Fleming had tracked him down to a place near Torquay, where he was 'living harmlessly on his own and writing patriotic poetry to encourage the war effort.' Aleister Crowley's brief letter to Ian Fleming went thus:

If it is true that Herr Hess is much influenced by astrology and Magick, my services might be of use to the Department in case he should not be willing to do what you wish. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, Aleister Crowley.'
With the letter Crowley apparently enclosed a copy of his 1939 penny tract England Stand Fast. This is a one page broadsheet privately Issued by the O.T.O. that now sells for about $100. Signed to Fleming it would surely command well into four figures...

In the ill fated 1966 David Niven movie of Casino Royale (Woody Allen as Bond's cousin Jimmy Bond etc.,) the part of Le Chiffre was played by Orson Welles who, in his later incarnation as stout bon viveur, would have made a good Crowley, come to think of it. [END]


Tim of Angle said...

"In his autobiography of Fleming, Andrew Lycett reveals...."

I don't even have to say anything, do I?

Bookride said...

Thanks Tim---Mea maxima culpa. Have demoted myself to bottom of the class (and changed it fast.)! N

Jimmy said...

Although, I suppose one could say "in his autobiography of Wayne Rooney, Hunter Davies reveals" etc.

Contessa said...

I object to the depersonalising phrase 'chick magnet.' Surely 'babe magnet' is more appropriate.