James Bond and Modesty Blaise: Comparing Ian Fleming's and Peter O'Donnell's Literary Creations

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The creation of Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise strip cartoon (1963–2001) and book series (1965–1996) took place during – and under the undeniable influence of – the "Bondmania" that swept the world in the 1960s. Still, as a strong, independent, and sexually liberated female hero, Modesty Blaise was in many ways quite new to the early 1960s. Regardless of this, however, she was regarded as a “feminine answer to James Bond”, and this view continues to echo in the writings of many contemporary critics and academics.

Comparing Ian Fleming’s original Bond stories and O’Donnell’s books, this article will discuss and question the validity of seeing Modesty Blaise and her world as "derivatives" of Bond. The article pays special attention to the similarities and differences in the skillsets, life histories, and personalities of James Bond, Modesty Blaise, and her trusted companion in arms, Willie Garvin. It also explores the nature of the operations that Bond and Blaise and Garvin undertake; the former as an agent of the British Secret Service, the latter two as independently wealthy "freelancers" or "vigilantes". A closely related issue is the way in which the chiefs of British Intelligence, Fleming’s M and O’Donnell’s Sir Gerald Tarrant, are portrayed in and figure into the narratives.

Although Fleming’s influence is clearly present in the first Modesty Blaise stories, the article will argue that the Modesty Blaise and James Bond series have many more dissimilarities than similarities and that the former merits increased academic attention in its own right.
Original languageEnglish
Journal The international journal of James Bond studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6122 Literature studies

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