"BOND HAD BECOME IRREPLACEABLE": FIRST EDITION OF FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE
FLEMING, Ian. From Russia, With Love. London: Jonathan Cape, (1957). Octavo, original black paper boards, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $7500.
First edition of one of the most successful Bond novels, in which Bond must recover a stolen Soviet encryption device from SMERSH.
Fleming considered this, his fifth Bond novel, in many ways his best; and when, in 1961, President Kennedy named it among his ten favorite books, "JFK's seal of approval was just the fillip that Viking, Ian's new [American] publishers, needed for his books to take off in the United States" (Lycett, 383). "Described in the Times Literary Supplement as 'most brilliant,' the book was a great commercial success and helped to launch Fleming as a best-selling novelist… It ended with Bond seriously wounded… and nearly killed… by fugu poison from the sex organs of the Japanese globe-fish… While the ending was not quite Sherlock Holmes and his apparently fatal last struggle with evil at the Reichenbach Falls, Fleming had provided himself with an opportunity to remove his hero. He was not, however, to take it. There was public agitation when 007 was reported dead. Bond had become irreplaceable" (Black, 27, 30). From Russia was the first Bond novel to feature Richard Chopping's distinctive artwork: "For 50 guineas, [Fleming] commissioned Richard Chopping, whom he described as 'the only English master' in the art of trompe l'oeil, to paint him a picture of a revolver crossed with a rose for the cover of From Russia, With Love. Over the course of the next decade Chopping… was to become widely known for the meticulous detail of his distinctive Bond novel covers" (Lycett, 300). "This is a very highly sought after title, as it is generally considered the best novel in the series and the best of the movies, as well" (Biondi & Pickard, 44). Made into the 1964 film of the same title with Sean Connery as Bond and Lotte Lenya as ex-KGB agent Rosa Klebb. Gilbert A5a (1.1). Biondi & Pickard, 43-44.
Book fine; light edge-wear mainly to spine ends, tiny closed edge-tear to near-fine dust jacket. A desirable and scarce early Bond title.