The internal conversation of James Bond

Earlier this week I read Solo by William Boyd. The idea of a new James Bond novel wouldn’t have appealed to me if it had been written by anyone other than Boyd and it lived up to my expectations. One curious aspect of it which I wasn’t expecting was the prominence of James Bond’s internal conversation in the narrative:

Bond lay in bed thinking about the plans for the following night – the crossing of the lagoon and trusting this man, Kojo, to deliver him safely. And what then? He supposed he would make his way to Port Dunbar and introduce himself as a friendly journalist, provide himself with new accreditation, and say he was keen to report the war from the Dahumian side – show the world the rebels’ perspective on events. Again, it all seemed very improvised and ad hoc. (pg 84)

Bond forced himself to think about his options for a while, kicking at bits of the shattered road surface. (pg 99)

To be honest, Bond had to admit that he hadn’t thought much about what he was doing once the urgency of the situation was apparent and the beautiful clarity of his plan had seized him. All that had concerned him was how best to execute it. (pg 146)

Bond paced slowly to and fro, affecting unconcern, but his mind was hyperactive. Something must have gone very wrong – but what? No clever strategy suggested itself. (pg 173)

He stopped. It had come to him like a revelation. All you had to do was give your brain enough time to work. A solution always presented itself. (pg 200)

There was nothing so invigorating as clear and absolute purpose. There was only one objective now. James Bond would kill Kobus Breed. (pg 272)

Bond’s mind was working fast – sensing opportunities, weighing up options, minimising risk. (pg 282)

Bond turned the Interceptor on to the London road and put his foot on the accelerator, concentrating on the pleasures of driving a powerful car like this, trying not to think of Bryce and whatever dangers had been lurking out there in the darkness of her garden. (pg 321)

I use the phrase ‘internal conversation’ because I think Boyd is doing something more here than simply describing the contents of Bond’s mind. These ‘contents’ enter into the narrative because they represent the basis for action rather than solely being a subjective response to the protagonist’s circumstances.

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