Author: Ian Fleming
Publication date: 11th April 1960
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Cover artist: Richard Chopping
For Your Eyes Only marked Fleming’s first deviation from the traditional Bond formula, with a series of five short stories. Prior to the book, Fleming had been involved in a project to bring Bond to the small screen and this is the origin of some of the stories.
Of the five stories, From A View To A Kill, For Your Eyes Only and Risico contain some of the more traditional Bond elements, while the Quantum of Solace is an anecdote recounted to Bond and The Hilderbrand Rarity finds him as a hired help while on holiday in the Seychelles, eventually involving a murder.
This last story is notable for Bond’s disgust at the sea being deliberately poisoned in order to catch a rare fish, an incident that Fleming had himself witnessed.
In For Your Eyes Only we learn of the memorable evening that culminated “in the loss, almost simultaneous, of his virginity and his notecase” on his first visit to Paris aged sixteen, and that he has “cordially disliked” the city since the war for pawning its heart to the tourists.
He prefers the Terminus Nord because he likes “station hotels and because this is the least pretentious and most anonymous of them”. Built in 1865 and recently renovated to its former glory, the 3 star hotel can be found at 12 Boulevard Denain, close to the Gare Du Nord station.
While contemplating his evening Bond looks forward to a drink at Harry’s Bar or Fouquet’s, the First World War hangout for bi-plane fighter aces. Harry’s Bar at 5 rue Daunou is the birthplace of the Bloody Mary and was often frequented by Hemingway. Home to the International Bar Flies, it was famously advertised to Anglophones as being found at “Sank Roo Doe Noo”.
What we say
With For Your Eyes Only Ian Fleming broke with tradition. Rather than the regular annual novel his fans had become used to expecting he used the plotlines from an abandoned TV show for four of the stories and added a fifth.
Three of the stories are more or less traditional Bond stories in short form. These are “From A View to a Kill”, “For Your Eyes Only” and “Risico”. The remainder, “Quantum of Solace” and “The Hildebrand Rarity” are something of oddities that allowed Fleming to experiment with his writing. The former was first published in the November 1959 edition of Modern Woman’s Magazine.
While the short story collection disappointed many when first published, they work well and showcase a different style to Fleming.
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