The genre of spy novels has become considerably popular among population with the development of modern intelligence agencies. Especially popular in the period of Cold War, spy novels introduce a fascinating, exciting, and dangerous world of spies to the audience. Spy novels usually present an agent of the international intelligence agency as the main hero and contain descriptions of numerous interesting adventures related to his/her job. One of the most well-knows series about spies is the series of books about the famous James Bond, the agent of British intelligence agency who fights with terrorism and protects the interests of Great Britain on the international arena. The character of Bond has become extremely popular after the first book Casino Royale was published. James Bond has become the face of the spy fiction and established the golden standards of the genre. In this paper, the genre of spy fiction is explored in detail, and its evolution up to present time is observed.
As it was mentioned before, spy novels became popular in the period of Cold War when international relations were quite intense. The conflict between the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc forced the countries of both camps to raise awareness and establish secret services that would collect certain important information insinuating into the enemy’s government structure. Agents of the intelligence had wide authority and opportunities to obtain and transfer needed information, and often had significant social status in order to have an appropriate level of admission to particular agencies and institutions. Spies were perceived as extraordinary people who had the set of such qualities that could make them elusive and almost invincible. Little boys often dreamed of becoming a spy once they grow up. Such an attitude created a basis for the development of the spy fiction genre in literature.
However, it has been a long time since the end of Cold War, and international relations have evolved to the next stage. With the lapse of time, the genre of spy fiction evolved as well. Today, spy novels concentrate mostly on the topics of international terrorism and possible Third World War. In modern spy novels, authors focus on the utilization of new technologies in the informational war also paying great attention to the emotional experiences of the main heroes. Recently, a new subgenre of the spy fiction emerged called spy-fi. It is a mixture of science fiction and spy fiction where the plot is built on the ideas of world domination or destruction with the help of some futuristic weapon of mass destruction and gadgets from the future. The theme of time travel is also quite popular in this genre.
In order to investigate how the genre of spy fiction has evolved with the lapse of time, some of the spy novels of the Cold War period will be compared with the more recent ones. In order to make this study more specific, it will be focused on two novels: Casino Royale (1953) by Ian Fleming and A Foreign Country (2012) by Charles Cumming. Casino Royale is the first book in series about the famous Agent 007, James Bond. The novel had a huge success when it was published first and remains one of the most popular and well-known spy novel up till now. The novel was filmed twice in 1967 and 2006, and the movies aroused interest of critics who marked them very high. Due to the great success of the first book, Fleming continued writing about the same hero, and published the second book Live and Let Die the next year, in 1954. The series describe the adventures of James Bond who is the agent of a British Secret Service. Bond is sent to the mission in France to eliminate Le Chiffre, the paymaster of a secret counterintelligence organization of the Soviet Union called SMERSH. The novel focuses on Bond’s attempts to expose Le Chiffre and his plans that lead him to a deadly struggle with SMERSH agents. After all, James Bond accomplishes his mission eliminating the threat coming from Le Chiffre and his activity.
The second book, A Foreign Country, is written in 2012, though the plot of the novel has its roots in far 1978. The main hero, Thomas Kell, is the agent of a British intelligence service who is given a chance to restore his reputation after being involved in the torture scandal after 9/11. Kell is sent to a mission by his chief to find Amelia who has gone missing in the South of France. During the investigation, Thomas Kell finds out that there is much more than a simple case about the missing girl and gets involved into a serious international affair threatening to everybody. The novel includes a variety of classic moves typical for spy fiction but has a significant distinction with the classic spy novels such as different set and themes. Though the book reveals the complexity of international relations involving intelligence agents of Britain, the United States, and France, it aims to reflect the current situation not referring to the Cold War period and the confrontation between the Soviet Union and The Western Bloc.
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However, the scheme of successful spy novel remains the same, and modern spy fiction proves that. Authors do not try to invent something new but rather stick to the certified way to write a spy novel with a strong protagonist who is struggling with numerous obstacles trying to accomplish his noble mission.