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Goldfinger (novel)

Goldfinger is the seventh novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series. It was first published by Jonathan Cape on March 23, 1959.

In 1964 it was adapted as the third film in the EON Productions James Bond series and was the third to star Sean Connery as British Secret Service agent, Commander James Bond. See Goldfinger for discussion of the film.

Plot summary

The novel begins in a similar fashion to Moonraker with an acquaintance of Bond (Junius Du Pont from Casino Royale) meeting him at a Miami airport and requesting that he observe a two-handed Canasta game between him and the eponymous villain of the novel, Auric Goldfinger. Du Pont suspects Goldfinger of cheating and offers to pay Bond to confirm his suspicions. It turns out that Goldfinger is indeed cheating and Bond forces him to admit his guilt and pay back Du Pont due compensation.

After Bond returns to London he inquires into the background of Goldfinger to find that he is the world's top gold smuggler, the richest man in England, and after further investigation Bond also learns that Goldfinger is working as treasurer for the Soviet assassination agency SMERSH.

Bond is sent to contact Goldfinger to collect information, and they engage in a high-stakes game of golf, for money, in England. Again Goldfinger cheats by switching golf balls, but by switching the ball again, Bond forces Goldfinger to lose due to the cheating, without directly accusing him.

Bond is then sent on a mission to find Goldfinger's supply of gold that he has been smuggling, and bring it back to England. Bond manages to trace Goldfinger to a warehouse in Geneva where the white-gold armor of Goldfinger's Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is regularly being melted into aircraft chair-frames, to be smuggled into India. Bond is then captured and tortured for information (being promised a slow death by buzz saw rather than a quick one, if he doesn't talk). This continues until Bond blacks out.

He then wakes up in New York and is taken to Goldfinger's warehouse, where he is told he and Tilly Masterton will be working for Goldfinger, essentially as secretaries and personnel managers. Bond had earlier offered his services, pretending to be a huckster, but had seemingly been refused and had expected to die.

Bond has observed Goldfinger making dead drops of gold bars in Europe, for SMERSH. Bond learns that Goldfinger intends to finance SMERSH's schemes by stealing fifteen billion USD worth of gold bullion from the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, an operation codenamed "Operation Grand Slam". Bond, along with Felix Leiter, works to prevent the villain from executing his plan, which involves killing the soldiers of Fort Knox with water-borne nerve agent (GB, also called sarin) and then using a stolen U.S. tactical atomic bomb missile warhead to break into Fort Knox's impregnable vault. They do not succeed in stealing any of Fort Knox's gold, but they do manage to escape after failing the robbery when it becomes apparent the poisoning hasn't worked.

In the novel, Pussy Galore is the lesbian leader of an all-female criminal organisation from New York City called the Cement Mixers. (She later tells Bond that the only reason she is a man-hating lesbian is because as a child she was raped by her uncle; she says that forcible incest is common in the southern United States.) They had previously been circus acrobats and cat-burglars. Her group, as well as various other mobs including the Mafia and the Spangled Mob from Diamonds Are Forever, have been employed to aid Goldfinger in the planning and execution of "Operation Grand Slam".

Martial arts expert Oddjob appears in the novel with a lethal metal-rimmed bowler hat, which he uses to kill Tilly at Fort Knox, and he is as seemingly invincible in the novel as in the movie. But he and Bond do not have the chance to fight, as in the novel it is a dozing Oddjob who is sucked to his death through the window of the airplane, after Bond penetrates it with a concealed knife under his jacket sleeve. Bond then strangles Goldfinger and orders the pilot to crash-land in the ocean. Only Bond and Pussy survive.

Characters

  • James Bond - A British Secret Service agent, sent to investigate gold smuggling.
  • Auric Goldfinger - The richest man in England, Goldfinger is also the treasurer for the Soviet counter-intelligence agency SMERSH. He intends to finance SMERSH's schemes by robbing Fort Knox. Goldfinger is based on the gold mining magnate, Charles W. Engelhard, Jr.
  • Pussy Galore - The head of a lesbian gang known as "The Cement Mixers" , enlisted by Goldfinger to aid in "Operation Grand Slam." Pussy's name is connected to her leadership of a circus group of cat-burglar, cat-women, Amazon lesbian acrobats (called "abrocats") in the novel, but that is only insinuated in the screen adaptation.
  • M - The head of the British Secret Service who sends Bond to investigate the gold smuggling operation. He is frequently helped by his secretary Miss Moneypenny and his Chief of Staff Bill Tanner.
  • Oddjob - An expert in unarmed combat, he is Auric Goldfinger's bodyguard and manservant. He wears a metal derby hat, which is also used as a weapon.
  • Felix Leiter - An agent of the CIA, Leiter was maimed by a shark in the earlier novel Live and Let Die. He is now working for Pinkerton's Detective Agency.
  • Jill Masterton - Auric Goldfinger's secretary who helps him cheat in card games. When she betrays him by helping Bond, Goldfinger retaliates by painting her entire body with gold paint, suffocating her. (This is a fictitious method of murder. Humans can not be suffocated merely by covering the entire body with paint, unless the paint forms a seal over the mouth and nose. )
  • Tilly Masterton - Jill's sister, she tries to kill Goldfinger in revenge, but is prevented from doing so by Bond. In the novel, Tilly is completely unimpressed by Bond, but is strongly attracted to Pussy Galore.

Gold motifs

In the novel, Goldfinger's obsession with gold is more explicit; sexually so. He wears yellow briefs to suntan in, has a collection of yellow-jacketed pornographic books and can only find satisfaction in copulating with gold-painted women (supposedly prostitutes), he travels in a yellow-painted car, employs a blonde secretary and even has a ginger cat (which is eaten by Oddjob for dinner after Bond uses it in a ruse). He employs Korean servants who are repeatedly referred to as "yellow-faced". The film keeps the colour of Rolls-Royce and secretary’s hair, but not the other insensitive material, and adds other gold motifs (see film discussion). A bit of Goldfinger's eulogy to gold ("I love its colour, its brilliance, its divine heaviness.") is one of few dialogue lines from the novel to be kept relatively intact in the film, but Gert Frobe maintains the subtext of his character's fetish for the metal through expressions, such as when Bond distracts his putt with an ingot, and when the villain is forced to turn away and leave Fort Knox's contents.

Subtexts

  • Illiberalisms and stereotypes of the novel's time (none of which survive to the film): Du Pont remarks casually that the hotel of which he is part-owner (the fictional Floridiana) has a restriction against Jews. Koreans are negatively characterised as a racial group in the novel, as are homosexuals. Although Pussy Galore has many skills, Goldfinger includes her group of female criminals primarily because he needs a group of women to impersonate Red Cross nurses for the covert attack on poison-stricken Fort Knox.
  • Amazon (cat)women in the 50s: Bond's encounter with Pussy Galore and the Abrocats is in the tradition of a 1950s science-fiction sub-genre in which groups of isolated women (often on other planets) "have no use for men" until a real man in the form of an adventurer teaches them the error of their ways. For examples, see Cat-Women of the Moon (1953), Queen of Outer Space (1957), and Missile to the Moon (1958), and even a Doctor Who TV serial of 1965, Galaxy 4.

Background facts on the writing of the novel

  • The villain's name was borrowed from Fleming's near neighbor in Hampstead, architect Ernő Goldfinger, and his character bears some resemblance. Fleming was incensed by the replacement of Victorian buildings with the architect's modernist designs, particularly a terrace which included Ernő Goldfinger's own residence at 2 Willow Road. Ernő Goldfinger consulted his lawyers when the book was published, prompting Fleming to suggest renaming the character "Goldprick", but eventually settled out of court in return for his costs, six copies of the book, and an agreement that the characters' first name Auric would always be used.
  • Goldfinger is typically a German-Jewish name, and the protagonists of the novel Goldfinger know this, but neither Bond nor Du Pont think Goldfinger is Jewish. Instead Bond pegs the red-haired blue-eyed man as a Balt, and indeed Goldfinger proves to be an expatriate Latvian from Riga.
  • Ian Fleming himself liked the color of gold enough to own a gold-plated typewriter, on which he wrote some Bond novels. In the mid-1990s this machine was supposedly purchased by the 5th official Bond actor, Pierce Brosnan, in Jamaica.

Publication history

The following are the publications of Goldfinger.Hardback London: Jonathan Cape. First British edition. 1st printing: 23 March 1959.

London: Book Club. Printed in 1959.

England: Viking/Penguin. 4 April 2002. ISBN 0-670-91036-8 Paperback London: Pan. Paperback. 1st, 2nd and 3rd printings: 1961.

London: Pan. Paperback. 4th printing: 1962; 5th printing: 1962; 6th printing: 1962; 7th printing: 1963.

London: Pan. Paperback. 7th printing: 1963; 8th printing: 1963; 9th printing: 1963.

London: Pan. Paperback. 9th and 10th printings: 1963; 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th printings: 1964; 18th, 19th and 20th printings: 1965.

London: Pan. Paperback. 21st printing: 1969.

London: Pan. Paperback. 22nd printing: 1972; 23rd printing: 1973; 24th printing: 1973; 25th printing: 1975; 26th printing: 1976. ISBN 0-330-10238-9

St Albans [Hertford]: Triad/Panther. Paperback. 1st printing: 1978. ISBN 0-586-04519-8

St Albans [Hertford]: Triad/Panther. Paperback. 2nd printing: 1979. ISBN 0-586-04519-8

London: Triad/Granada. Paperback. Reprinted: 1982. ISBN 0-586-04519-8

London: Triad/Panther/Granada. Paperback. Reprinted: 1984; Reprinted: 1986. ISBN 0-586-04519-8

Sevenoaks [Kent]: Coronet. Paperback. 1st printing: February 1989. ISBN 0-340-42568-7

Sevenoaks [Kent]: Coronet. Paperback. 6th printing: n.d. ISBN 0-340-42568-7

London: Penguin. Paperback. 4 April 2002. ISBN 0-14-100285-9

Bath [England]: New Portway/Chivers Press. Large print edition. Hardcover. 1st printing: 1983. ISBN 085119205X

England: Eagle Large Print. Hardcover. 1st printing: 1992. ISBN 0792713206

Bath [England]: Paragon/Chivers Press. Large print edition. Softcover. 1st printing: March 1993.

London: Hutchinson. Children’s edition. Paperback. 1st printing: May 1976. Part of the ‘Bull’s-eye’ series. ISBN 0091269911

England: Nelson Thomes. Children’s edition. Paperback. 1st printing: June 1976. Part of the ‘Bull’s-eye’ series. ISBN 0-7487-1019-1

Adaptations

In 1964, Goldfinger became the third entry in the James Bond film series. Sean Connery returned as Bond, while German actor Gert Fröbe played Auric Goldfinger. The film was mostly similar to the novel but Jill and Tilly Masterson have shortened roles and earlier deaths in the storyline. The plot of the film was also changed from stealing gold to irradiating the gold vault with a dirty bomb. In addition, the population of Fort Knox is ostensibly rendered unconscious by nerve gas sprayed by aerial deployment—not by drugged drinking water, as Fleming had originally written.

Fleming's original novel was adapted as a daily comic strip which was published in the British Daily Express newspaper and syndicated around the world. The adaptation ran from October 3, 1960 to April 1, 1961. The adaptation was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky. It was reprinted by Titan Books in 2004 in an edition known as the Goldfinger collection.

Footnotes

External links

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