The British Myth of Russia

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At the same time, the novel’s main character (who makes her first appearance in chapter “007”) Tatiana Romanova embodies those new things that Britain discovered in Russian novels, Russian culture and Russian mystical mind in the beginning of the 20th century. They are intuitive religiousness, sensitivity, natural naivete, and attraction to high culture. Interestingly, Fleming depicts these features clearly in a derogatory, profane tone: attraction to culture makes itself manifest by the fact that the girl’s favorite word is “cultural” («kulturny»). Intuitive religiousness manifests itself in an hour of need when she remembers words of prayer from her childhood. Sensitivity and ingenuousness makes itself evident when she immediately falls in love with Bond once and for all.

A derogatory tone and irony run through the whole novel: the author insists that there is no need to take both yourself and your aggressive opponent too seriously. Seriousness is a systemic fact, but Fleming ties consistency and order to the antiworld of the USSR. It is made explicit in the text of the novel that Englishmen’s jokes and derision enable them to defeat the straightforward and aggressive seriousness of the Soviet Union: “The way to catch Russians is to make them look foolish. Embarrass them. Laugh at them. They can’t stand it”, – that is the advice that Darko Kerim, one of the most vivid positive characters of the book, gives Bond.[1] In this regard Fleming swaps such values as order and integrity on the one hand, and randomness and haphazardness on the other. For Kipling and Maugham order and integrity were essential features of the British mentality specifically.

Thus, during the period between the 1940s and the 1980s a new layer of the myth about Russia took shape in the British culture, which was connected with the vision of military and political, ideological, and spiritual threat emanating from the totalitarian monster state. This period is special due to, first and foremost, rapid changes within the new layer: initial tones of horror, indignation, and disgust were combined in fiction about Russia as early as the 1960s and the 1970s with the tones of ironic mistrust, teasing, and stereotype reversal (A. Burgess, G. Greene).

[1] Fleming I. From Russia with Love. L.: Vintage Books, 2012. 356 p. P. 268.

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