Monday, February 27, 2023

IFP issues statement about Anniversary edition edits

Ian Fleming Publications has issued a statement about the edits to their upcoming Anniversary re-issues of the original Ian Fleming James Bond novels. Click the image below to have a read at the official Ian Fleming Publications website.

1 comment:

  1. IFP claims that "from his letters, it seems Fleming preferred the amended US version."

    Here's a letter Fleming sent to his American literary agent Naomi Burton in May 1955, which was reprinted in Chapter 19 of Pearson's biography:
    "By the way and sucks to you, I had a drink with Raymond Chandler last night and he said that the best bit of Live and Let Die was the conversation between the two negroes in Harlem, which he said was dead accurate. Perhaps you remember that you nearly sneered me into cutting it out on grounds that 'Negroes don't talk like that.'"

    Chandler's copy of LALD came directly from Fleming, so it was the British version. And the conversation alluded to was cut from the American edition. If Burton didn't succeed in pressuring Fleming to cut the it, Al Hart did. In any case, the letter makes clear that Fleming was proud of the scene and did NOT prefer this edit to the original British version.

    If Fleming preferred the American edits, why didn't he incorporate them into the British reprints? He had many opportunities to do so, especially after the books became best-sellers.

    And yet the only edit Fleming made to the British version of LALD was a factual correction regarding a perfume manufacturer. So Fleming had the opportunity to incorporate the rest of the American edits into the "home" version of LALD but chose not to.

    It’s clear that Fleming was eager to break into the American market and agreed to any edits suggested by American editors. That’s why the first American paperback edition of Casino Royale was retitled You Asked For It, and Moonraker was christened Too Hot to Handle. Fleming approved of those changes too. Does anyone regard them as definitive?

    And it's not just LALD that's being edited. So are DN, GF, TB, FYEO and presumably more. The only book confirmed to be untouched is CR.

    Removing offensive material from Fleming is like closing the barn door 60 years after the horse left. First-time readers will get a distorted version of the books, and they'll likely feel betrayed after learning they'd read a censored version that gave a dishonestly innocuous version of Fleming's racial attitudes.

    It's pointless to censor the books and pretend they don't have racist passages. Who's going to be fooled by this, when the original texts have been circulating for more than 60 years and will continue to do so in used bookshops and online? Anyone who comes away from the new editions thinking the Bond books don't have offensive passages will quickly be disabused by reality (and a quick look at the internet). The project is incredibly patronizing to any intelligent reader.

    What IFP seems to be doing is "protecting the brand" by sanitizing its mass market editions. I've heard it plans to release deluxe hardcovers with the original text, presumably meant for well-heeled collectors rather than the general public. If so, this sort of cynical marketing makes one regret the books ever "came home."


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