Ian Fleming and Javier Cercas: Is the past always present?

Susan chats with highly acclaimed Spanish writer Javier Cercas & is joined by Matthew Parker and Nicholas Daly to discuss the life and work of Ian Fleming

On this week’s edition of ‘Talking Books’ Susan will be interviewing the great Spanish writer Javier Cercas. Javier was born in Ibahernando, a small town in the western region of Spain. From an early age, he was fascinated by the world of literature and set out to pursue a career in this area. He studied at the Universidad Autonoma of Barcelona, where he earned his PHD. Then, he travelled to the United States, where he spent two years as a lecturer at the University of Illinois.

Javier novels are all written in his native tongue, but has also produced many novels which have been translated to English, such as ‘The Tenant and the Motive’, ‘The Speed of Light’, ‘The Anantomy of a Motive’ and his most recent translation ‘Outlaws’.

His most notable work was the 2001 novel ‘Soldiers of Salamis’, for which he gained wide acclaim. Using fact and fiction, Cercas interweaves Athenean history with the Spanish Civil War. It was later adapted as a film in 2003, while the English translation won the 2004 International Foreign Fiction Prize in the United Kingdom.

Today, he is a Professor of Spanish Literature at the Universitat di Girona, while he continues to write in a full time capacity. He is also a regular contributor the popular Spanish newspaper ‘El Pais’.

Javier Cercas

Listen in as Susan asks Javier about the relationship between history and literature. Where does the truth lie within his novels? Is there a beauty in contradiction? And does his obsessive quest for knowledge drive him as a writer?

Then, in part two, 'Talking Books' will enter the world of espionage. Ian Fleming was a former British Naval officer who is of course most famous for his series of James Bond spy novels, beginning with ‘Casino Royale’ in 1953. Susan will be joined by Matthew Parker and Nicolas Daly to shed further light on the man behind the enigmatic 007.

Matthew is an English author, whose works include ‘The Battle of Britain’, ‘Monte Casino, ‘Panama Fever’ and ‘The Sugar Barons’. His wide ranging list of works indicates the cultured upbringing that Matthew experienced. He was born in El Salvador and then spent parts of his childhood in the West Indies and Scandinavia, before finally settling in England. He then attended university in Oxford, before beginning his literary career.

His latest book is ‘Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born’. In this, Parker provides an account of the life of Ian Fleming, providing illuminating context to the James Bond book series for which he is famed.

The Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, where Fleming wrote many of his 'James Bond' novels

Nicholas lectures at UCD and is the Professor of Modern English and American literature in the School of English, Drama and Film. In the past, he has also held positions in Wesleyan University and Dartmouth College in the US. He specialises in twentieth century literature, early cinema and pop culture. He is currently working on a project entitled ‘The Demographic Imagination and the Nineteeth Century City’ which is related to Victorian culture. It will be released this year with Cambridge University Press.

Susan will be chatting with Matthew and Nicholas about the legacy of Ian Fleming and his work. What inspired Fleming to create a series based on an imperial figure that signified British power? Does his work stand up to modern critique? And what are the greatest Bond novels?