James Bond’s real-life alter ego appears in my book. (See “God is my copilot” chapter.) And until now only a few close friends knew that in another life I’d be a Bond girl, preferably a bad one. (See “Well-behaved women seldom make history” chapter.)

Which is why James Parker’s article in The Atlantic, “The Inner Life of James Bond,” caught my eye. The recent debut of the latest 007 novel, Solo, this one by author William Boyd, occasions a closer look at the man Bond—and it seems that Bond’s appeal lies in his unruffled inscrutability. Bond at heart is rather one-dimensionally a man on a mission, and all that matters is fulfilling his orders and foiling the bad guys’ sinister plot while keeping his cuff links intact. The luxurious gadgets, beautiful women and exotic settings are all ancillary to the mission at hand—but, admittedly, a pleasant distraction.

Yet it is also precisely this unruffled inscrutability and almost mechanical predictability—(Bond gets mission, Bond goes on mission, Bond completes mission)—that makes Bond so amusing. We might not tolerate him in real life, but on the screen, well, he’s simply irresistible.

Parker even conscripts some theology in his analysis of Bond’s character. As we come to understand “the nothingness of this world…we begin, by degrees, to perceive that there are but two beings in the whole universe, our own soul, and the God who made it,” writes Parker, quoting theologian Cardinal Newman. For Bond the only difference, according to Parker, is that “M,” Bond’s shrewd controller, replaces God in this equation: M sends [Bond] out; M calls him back; Bond will die for M.”






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