Sunday, February 26, 2023

Variety reports 70th ANNIVERSARY editions will be edited

Today's Variety is reporting that IFPs new 70th anniversary editions of Ian Fleming original James Bond books will contain edits to remove perceived racist content. You can read the full article HERE. Below is an excerpt:

A commonly used pejorative term used for Black people by Fleming, whose Bond books were published between 1951 and 1966, has been removed almost entirely and replaced with “Black person” or “Black man.” In other instances, references have been edited.

For example, in “Live and Let Die” (1954), Bond’s opinion of Africans in the gold and diamond trades as “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they’ve drunk too much” has been altered to “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought.”

Another scene in the book, set during a strip tease at a Harlem nightclub, was originally “Bond could hear the audience panting and grunting like pigs at the trough. He felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry.” This has been revised to “Bond could sense the electric tension in the room.” A segment in the book describing accented dialogue as “straight Harlem-Deep South with a lot of New York thrown in,” has been removed.

For some additional context, both U.S. editions of Live and Let Die and Diamonds Are Forever were edited for sensitivity back in Fleming's day, so this isn't entirely new. But these edits appear to be going further than those and I'm sure this news is going to draw a lot of comment from Bond fans.

For me personally, I want the original unedited texts. Full stop. I was very happy when the U.S. editions were finally updated with the UK texts in 2002. Fleming's words and thoughts should remain unchanged, even if offensive. History and art should not be altered. But a disclaimer is certainly appropriate and I think a good idea.

But I also understand IFPs dilemma. They are marketing these editions to a mass audience and they have to deal with the times we are in. For those who want the unedited texts, you can certainly still find those. And maybe some day the texts will be returned to the original. I'm not sure if these changes will make these 70th Anniversary editions more collectible or less so, but they better have some pretty spectacular cover art to overcome the taint that I think these will forever have for Fleming purists.

Cover art above is from a 1970 Pan edition of The Man With The Golden Gun. UK cover art for the 70th Anniversary editions have not been revealed.

UPDATE: IFP have issued a statement HERE.


  1. The US cover art is terrible, so combining it with this and they have become a hard pass, which honestly is heartbreaking.

    In your LALD example above - the first line is one thing, but also cutting out "He felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry"? What is the point of that?

  2. I wonder if these changes are all included in the new ebook editions that were published earlier this month…

    The original Telegraph article (linked to in the Variety piece) has some extra context from IFP. What’s curious is that race has been a focal point of the edits while other lines, such as Casino Royale’s notorious “sweet tang of rape” remark remain in tact.

    The Telegraph piece also has this statement from IFP. Make of it what you will.

    “We at Ian Fleming Publications reviewed the text of the original Bond books and decided our best course of action was to follow Ian’s lead. We have made changes to Live and Let Die that he himself authorised.

    “Following Ian’s approach, we looked at the instances of several racial terms across the books and removed a number of individual words or else swapped them for terms that are more accepted today but in keeping with the period in which the books were written.

    “We encourage people to read the books for themselves when the new paperbacks are published in April.”

  3. IFP is marketing these editions to a "mass audience" that no longer exists for this kind of material. The casual reader won't bother with a series of books set/written in the 50's no matter how popular the cinematic Bond remains. IFP, under Corinne Turner has been pushing the woke agenda first with the Dynamite comics and then with the unbelievably woke Double or Nothing, a book written by a woke "writer" for woke readers only!
    Copyright extension of intellectual property should be used to protect the integrity of the property against external censorship, NOT for the copyright owner to destroy its legacy. I'm not buying any future continuation novels.

  4. Variety says “a commonly used pejorative term for black people,” and the Telegraph went even further implying that this term was the N-word with the number of dashes they put in their censored version of the word. But while it’s true that the N-word appeared in the original British editions of LALD and once in DAF (though not the American ones, as you say), that was NOT the term that Fleming “commonly” used to refer to black people in his writing! The term he used was “negro,” which, while outmoded now, was a commonly used term at the time he was writing by EVERYONE—including civil rights leaders and politicians. It wasn’t pejorative then and I don’t think it is now either—just archaic. The idea of censoring it (if that’s really what’s happening) is sort of bizarre. I think it’s important to make the distinction between these words when writing about this story—especially when so many outlets are doing their best to mislead, either out of ignorance or as clickbait.

    1. It is absolutely a pejorative term for Black People and has been considered as a pejorative for about as long as the James Bond film series has existed since it began to be phased out of use since the 60s and removed from any official use in America since the 80s. It is still used only in the context of historical Black organisations. Funny you haven't once noticed in 60 years...

    2. Anything can be taken a a prejorative and the fact that it *is* still used by organization such as the United Negro College Fund means even if it *is* one, it's not one worth expunging from its histoical context.


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