Octopussy and The Living Daylights

Octopussy and The Living Daylights
Octopussy and The Living Daylights  
First edition cover - published by Jonathan Cape.
Author(s) Ian Fleming
Cover artist Richard Chopping (Jonathan Cape ed.)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series James Bond
Genre(s) Spy novel
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date 23 June 1966
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Preceded by The Man with the Golden Gun
Followed by 003½: The Adventures of James Bond Junior

Octopussy and The Living Daylights (sometimes published as Octopussy) is the fourteenth and final James Bond book written by Ian Fleming in the Bond series. The book is a collection of short stories published posthumously in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape on 23 June 1966.

The book originally contained just two stories, "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights", with subsequent editions also carrying firstly "The Property of a Lady and then "007 in New York". Three of the four stories were first published in different publications, with "Octopussy" not having been previously released. "The Living Daylights" had first appeared in The Sunday Times on 4 February 1962; "The Property of a Lady" was published in November 1963 in a Sotheby's publication, The Ivory Hammer whilst "007 in New York" first appeared in the New York Herald Tribune in October 1963.

The two original stories, "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights" were both adapted for publication in comic strip format in the Daily Express in 1966 – 1967. Elements from the stories have also been used in the Eon Productions Bond films. The first, Octopussy, starring Roger Moore as James Bond, was released in 1983 as the thirteenth film in the series and provided the back story for the film Octopussy's family, while "The Property of a Lady" was more closely adapted for an auction sequence in the film. The Living Daylights, released in 1987, was the fifteenth Bond film produced by Eon and starred Timothy Dalton in his first appearance as Bond.




Secret Service operative James Bond, code name 007, is assigned to apprehend a hero of the Second World War implicated in a murder involving a cache of Nazi gold. Bond appears briefly in this story, which is told mostly in flashback and from the point of view of Major Dexter Smythe, the villain. Bond chooses not to take Smythe into custody immediately, but Smythe's guilt drives him to commit suicide by allowing a scorpion fish to sting him and his 'pet' octopus to attack him, bringing on a heart attack.

"The Living Daylights"

An unusually morose James Bond is assigned sniper duty to help British agent "272" escape from East Berlin. Bond's duty is to prevent a top KGB assassin codenamed "Trigger" from killing 272 by eliminating the sniper. Bond waits for three nights for the agent to come over no man's land and notices a female orchestra arriving and leaving for practice each night; a beautiful, blonde cellist catches his eye while he waits. When he sees the agent start making his way over the broken ground, he sees the Russian sniper take up position and realises it is the cellist: a split second decision sees Bond deciding instead to shoot the butt of her rifle, preventing her from making the kill. The mission, while successful, is also considered a failure due to Bond's last-second decision, and it ends with Bond hoping that M fires him for it.

"The Property of a Lady"

James Bond investigates a Secret Service employee, Maria Freudenstein, who is a double agent about to be paid by her Russian keepers by auctioning a clock crafted by Peter Carl Fabergé at Sotheby's in her name. The Russians have sent the Resident Director of the KGB in London to attend the auction and underbid for the item in order to push the price to the necessary value to pay for her services as a double agent. Bond attends the auction in hopes of spotting this man; after doing so the man is expelled from London as persona non grata.

"007 in New York"

A brief tale in which Bond muses about New York City and his favourite recipe for scrambled eggs, during a quick mission to the titular city to warn a female MI6 employee that her new boyfriend is a KGB agent. It is notable for including a rare humorous conclusion and for its mention of Solange, a young lady of Bond's intimate acquaintance who works in a shop, Abercrombie's, "appropriately employed in their Indoor Games Department".

Characters and themes

Author of the "continuation" Bond stories, Raymond Benson, noted that in "The Living Daylights" Bond's thoughts on killing are examined once again, showing that although 007 did not like doing it, he considered that he must as part of his duty to complete an assignment.[1] Once the mission is completed, with Bond deliberately not killing the assassin, there is an attitude of complacency with Bond shrugging off his colleague's complaints about the incident.[2] Academic Jeremy Black sees the colleague, the officious Captain Spender, as the antithesis of Bond and an echo of Colonel Schreiber, the head of security at SHAPE, (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), who appeared in "From a View to a Kill".[3]

In the act of not killing the assassin, the theme of disobedience in raised in "The Living Daylights",[4] with Bond calling what he has to do as "murder" and subsequently dismisses his actions by saying "with any luck it will cost me my Double-0 number".[5] Raymond Benson considered that "Octopussy" was a morality tale, with greed bringing repercussions years later to the main protagonist, Dexter Smythe.[6]


On the morning of 12 August 1964, Fleming died of a heart attack;[7] eight months later, The Man with the Golden Gun was published.[8] The rights to Fleming's works were held by Glidrose Publications (now Ian Fleming Publications) and it was decided by the company that two short stories, "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights", would be published in 1966.[9]


The story "Octopussy" was written in early 1962 at Fleming's Goldeneye estate in Jamaica.[10] The story is told in the manner of "Quantum of Solace", with Bond as catalyst for story told in flashback, rather than as a main character for action.[11] The topics chosen for Fleming were familiar ground for him to cover, with hidden gold, tropical fish and the wartime exploits of commandos all coming from elements of his past.[12] Also from the past, or from his acquaintance, were other references used in the story and Miscellaneous Objectives Bureau was a fictional version of Fleming's 30 AU unit.[13] One of Fleming's neighbours in Jamaica, and later his lover, was Blanche Blackwell, mother of Chris Blackwell of Island Records. Fleming had already used Blackwell as the model for Pussy Galore in his novel Goldfinger[14] and, rather ungallantly, had also named the guano-collecting ship in Dr. No as Blanche.[15] Blackwell had gave Fleming a coracle called Octopussy, the name of which Fleming used for the story.[16]

"The Living Daylights"

Fleming originally titled "The Living Daylights" as "Trigger Finger",[17] although when it first appeared, in the The Sunday Times colour supplement of 4 February 1962,[18] it was under the title of "Berlin Escape".[10] It was also published in June 1962 issue of the American magazine Argosy under the same name.[19] For the The Sunday Times, Fleming had commissioned Graham Sutherland to undertake the artwork to accompany the piece, at a cost of 100 guineas,[20] although the artwork wasn't used in the published edition.[18]

As background research to the story, Fleming corresponded with Captain E.K. Le Mesurier, secretary of the National Rifle Association at Bisley for information and to correct some of the more specialist areas of knowledge required for sniper shooting. Part of the background to the plot, of using the noise of the orchestra to cover the crossing over no man's land was inspired by Pat Reid's escape from Colditz prisoner of war camp, with two escapers having to run across a courtyard under the cover of the noise from an orchestra.[17] The conductor of the Colditz orchestra was Douglas Bader, who played golf with Fleming on a number of occasions.[17] The assassin, Tigger, was partly based on Amaryllis Fleming, Ian's half-sister, a concert cellist with blonde hair and Fleming managed to get a passing reference to her in the story, saying: "Of course Suggia had managed to look elegant, as did that girl Amaryllis somebody."[17]

"Property of a Lady"

"Property of a Lady" was commissioned by Sotheby's for use in their annual journal, The Ivory Hammer[11] and was published in November 1963 and later in Playboy.[21] The story was written in early 1963 and Fleming was so unhappy with the final piece he refused payment from Sotheby's for something he considered so lacklustre.[22]

"007 in New York"

In 1959 Fleming was trip commissioned by The Sunday Times for a series of articles based on world cities, material for which later became the Thrilling Cities book; whilst travelling through New York for material, Fleming wrote "007 in New York" from Bond's point of view.[23] "007 in New York" was original titled "Reflections in a Carey Cadillac"[11] and it contains a recipe for scrambled eggs which came from May Maxwell,[11] the housekeeper to friend Ivar Bryce who gave her name to Bond's own housekeeper, May.[15] The story was first published in the New York Herald Tribune in October 1963 as "Agent 007 in New York", but was subsequently renamed as "007 in New York" for the 1964 US editions of Thrilling Cities.[24]

Release and reception

Octopussy and The Living Daylights was published in Britain on 23 June 1966[25] by Jonathan Cape and cost 10s.6d.[26] The hardback edition of the book contained only the two stories mentioned in the title, although when the paperbacks editions were published, "The Property of a Lady" was also included.[25] Once again artist Richard Chopping provided the cover art, although his fee rose once again, to 350 guineas.[27] The book was published in US by New American Library with illustrations from Paul Bacon.[25]


Philip Larkin wrote in The Spectator that "I am not surprised that Fleming preferred to write novels. James Bond, unlike Sherlock Holmes, does not fit snugly into the short story length: there is something grandiose and intercontinental about his adventures that require elbow room and such examples of the form as we have tend to be eccentric or muted. These are no exception."[17] The critic for The Times Literary Supplement wrote that the book was "slight and predictable, and usual sex and violence yield to a plausible use of ballistics and marine biology".[17] Writing in The Listener, Anthony Burgess thought that "in their fascinated poring on things...remind us that the stuff of the anti-novel needn't necessarily spring from a thought-out aesthetic",[26] going on to note that "it is the mastery of the world that gives Fleming his peculiar literary niche".[26] On a personal note, Burgess added "I admired all the Bond books and I'm sorry there'll be no more. A sad farewell to Fleming".[26]


Comic strip adaptation (1966-1967)

Two of the short stories were adapted for publication in comic strip format, which were published daily in the Daily Express newspaper and syndicated worldwide. "The Living Daylights" ran from 12 September to 12 November 1966, adapted by Jim Lawrence and illustrated by Yaroslav Horak; the same pair also worked on "Octopussy", which ran from 14 November 1966 to 27 May 1967.[28] The story lines for the strips were altered from the original Fleming version to ensure that they contained a glamorous reason for being Bond involved and to include Bond in action.[29] The strips were reprinted by Titan Books in 1988[28] and then again in The James Bond Omnibus Vol. 2, published in 2011.[30]

Octopussy (1983)

In 1983 Eon Productions loosely adapted elements of two of the stories, "Octopussy" and "The Property of a Lady" for the thirteenth film in their Bond series, starring Roger Moore as Bond.[31] "Octopussy" provided the title of the film and the background for the character Octopussy, the daughter of a character Bond had allowed to commit suicide, rather than face the shame of arrest and imprisonment.[32] The film also used the plot device of auctioning of a Fabergé egg at Sotheby's from "The Property of a Lady" and, as with the story, the auction item was described as being the same "property of a lady".[32]

The Living Daylights (1987)

In 1987 Eon used the plot of "The Living Daylights", almost unchanged, for a section of their 1987 film of the same name.[33] The film starred Timothy Dalton in his first role as Bond, whilst the character of Trigger became that of cello player Kara Milovy.[34]


  1. ^ Benson 1988, p. 144.
  2. ^ Benson 1988, p. 145.
  3. ^ Black 2005, p. 41.
  4. ^ Black 2005, p. 82-84.
  5. ^ Black 2005, p. 84.
  6. ^ Benson 1988, p. 143.
  7. ^ "Obituary: Mr. Ian Fleming". The Times: p. 12. 13 August 1964. 
  8. ^ Black 2005, p. 75.
  9. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 445.
  10. ^ a b Black 2005, p. 78.
  11. ^ a b c d Chancellor 2005, p. 240.
  12. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 408.
  13. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 409.
  14. ^ Thomson, Ian (6 June 2008). "Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks, writing as Ian Fleming; For Your Eyes Only, by Ben Macintyre". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/devil-may-care-by-sebastian-faulks-writing-as-ian-fleming-br-for-your-eyes-only-by-ben-macintyre-841032.html. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Chancellor 2005, p. 113.
  16. ^ Macintyre 2008, p. 93.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Chancellor 2005, p. 241.
  18. ^ a b Lycett 1996, p. 396.
  19. ^ Benson 1988, p. 24.
  20. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 395.
  21. ^ Benson 1988, p. 25.
  22. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 422.
  23. ^ Benson 1988, p. 60.
  24. ^ Griswold 2006, p. 381.
  25. ^ a b c Benson 1988, p. 31.
  26. ^ a b c d Burgess, Anthony (14 July 1966). "New Fiction". The Listener. 
  27. ^ Midwinter, Janet (4 April 2010). "The Man with the Golden Grudge". Mail on Sunday. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1263359/The-Man-Golden-Grudge-How-illustrator-Ian-Flemings-novels-felt-conned-vast-royalties.html. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  28. ^ a b Fleming, Gammidge & McLusky 1988, p. 6.
  29. ^ Fleming, Gammidge & McLusky 1988, p. 4.
  30. ^ McLusky et al. Horak, p. 6.
  31. ^ Barnes & Hearn 2001, p. 151.
  32. ^ a b Barnes & Hearn 2001, p. 146.
  33. ^ Barnes & Hearn 2001, p. 168.
  34. ^ Barnes & Hearn 2001, p. 173.


External links

See also

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