‘TO RUSSIA, WITH GREETINGS’ – LE CARRÉ ON JAMES BOND, COMMUNISM, AND THE COLD WAR:
‘THE RUSSIAN BOND IS ON HIS WAY’
‘LE CARRÉ, John’ [i.e. David John Moore CORNWALL]. ‘To Russia, with Greetings. An Open Letter to the Moscow “Literary Gazette”’, in Frank KERMODE and Melvin J. LASKY (editors). Encounter XXVI, No. 5 (May 1966), pp. 3-6. London: William Clowes and Sons, Limited for Encounter Ltd., 1966.
Quarto (249 x 180mm), pp. 96. 2 colour-printed plates with advertisements recto-and-verso, illustrations in the text after Gerald Scarfe et al. (Very light browning.) Original colour printed wrappers. (Spine faded, extremities lightly rubbed, a few light spots on lower wrapper.) A very good copy.
First edition. ‘Sir, After the publication of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold in many languages and countries, I waited hopefully for a reaction from the Communist bloc’ begins John le Carré’s ‘To Russia, with Greetings’ which opens this issue of Encounter. The letter was written in reaction to a Russian critic’s discussion of le Carré’s work in October 1965, which accused him of being an apologist for the Cold War; in response, le Carré analyses the Communist reception of his works within the Cold War context and proposes that James Bond, ‘the hyena who stalks the capitalist deserts, […] an identifiable antagonist sustained by capital and kept in good heart by the charms of a materialist society’ – among other things – ‘is on your side, not mine’, closing: ‘Now that you have honoured the qualities which created him, it is only a matter of time before you recruit him […]: the Russian Bond is on his way’.
The publication of this letter in 1966 was apposite: four Bond films, all starring Sean Connery, had been released by that point – Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965) – and Fleming’s final Bond novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, had appeared in the previous year. During 1965 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, le Carré’s best-selling third novel, was made into a film and its sequel, The Looking-Glass War, was published. This issue also includes, among other things, a feature on ‘Scarfe in New York’ and contributions by Robert Graves, Frank Kermode, and Anthony Burgess. Interestingly the co-founder of Encounter, Stephen Spender, left the magazine in the following year (1967) after discovering that it had been funded covertly by the CIA.
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