Goldfinger (novel): Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

First edition cover - published by Jonathan Cape. Note gold coins and background pine box.
Author Ian Fleming
Cover artist Richard Chopping (Jonathan Cape ed.)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series James Bond
Genre(s) Spy novel
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date 23 March 1959
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
ISBN n/a
Preceded by Dr. No
Followed by For Your Eyes Only

Goldfinger is the seventh novel and basis for the third Bond film (1964) in Ian Fleming's James Bond series. It was first published by the British publishers Jonathan Cape on March 23, 1959.

In 1964 it was adapted as the third film in the EON Productions James Bond series and was the third to star Sean Connery as British Secret Service agent, Commander James Bond. See Goldfinger for discussion of the film.


Plot summary

The novel opens in a similar fashion to Moonraker with an acquaintance of Bond, Junius Du Pont (from Casino Royale), meeting him at a Miami airport and requesting that he observe a two-handed Canasta game between himself and the eponymous villain of the novel, Auric Goldfinger. Du Pont suspects Goldfinger of cheating, and offers to pay Bond to confirm his suspicions. Bond discovers that Goldfinger's "secretary," Jill Masterton had been using binoculars to spy on Du Pont's hand from her hotel room, and radio the cards to Goldfinger. Bond forces him to admit his guilt, pay back what he has unfairly won from Du Pont. Additionally, Bond tells him to reserve a train car for Bond and Masterton to New York, where she returns to Goldfinger's employ.

After Bond returns to London, he inquires into the background of Goldfinger, to find that he is the richest man in England, the world's top gold smuggler, and treasurer for the Soviet assassination agency SMERSH.

Bond is sent to collect information from Goldfinger, and manages to join him for what turns into a high-stakes game of golf. Goldfinger cheats by switching golf balls, but Bond beats him at his own game and wins. Bond is then sent on a mission to find Goldfinger's supply of gold that he has been smuggling, and bring it back to England.

Bond manages to trace Goldfinger to a warehouse in Geneva where the white-gold armor of Goldfinger's Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is regularly being melted into aircraft seat-frames, to be smuggled into India. There he witnesses an armed Tilly Masterton, Jill's sister, attempting to assassinate Goldfinger. She tells him that after his foil of Goldfinger's card scam, he had Jill completely painted gold, killing her by epidermal asphyxiation. Bond is then captured and tortured for information (being promised a slow death by buzz saw rather than a quick one, if he doesn't talk). This continues until Bond blacks out without revealing himself as an operative, and apparently establishes his bona fides with Goldfinger, for he not only isn't killed but is given a job. This occurs when he next wakes up — far off in New York where he is being taken to Goldfinger's warehouse — there he is told he and Masterton will be working for Goldfinger, essentially as secretaries and personnel managers — for Bond had earlier offered his services, pretending to be a huckster, but had seemingly been refused and had expected to die.

Since Bond has observed Goldfinger making dead drops of gold bars in Europe, for SMERSH he was keen to worm his way inside and ferret out more about his operations. Bond soon learns that Goldfinger intends to finance SMERSH's schemes by stealing billions of dollars worth of gold bullion from the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, an operation codenamed "Operation Grand Slam". This scheme involves the help of Pussy Galore, the lesbian leader of an all-female criminal organisation from New York City called the Cement Mixers who had previously been circus acrobats and cat-burglars — this element would later be used in the script for the film Octopussy. Her group, as well as various other mobs including the Mafia and the Spangled Mob from the novel version of Diamonds Are Forever, have been employed to aid Goldfinger in the planning and execution of "Operation Grand Slam".

Bond manages to leave an S.O.S. in an Idlewild Airport bathroom with details of Operation Grand Slam, and a promise of a reward if the finder delivers it to Felix Leiter, Bond's friend and former CIA operative based in New York.

Upon arriving in Fort Knox, Bond is disgusted by the sight of thousands of seemingly dead bodies--the result of sarin Goldfinger planned to place in the water supply. As the criminals ready to break into the vault, an Army force, led by Leiter, attacks the criminals. They do not succeed in stealing any of Fort Knox's gold, but they do manage to escape after it becomes apparent the poisoning hasn't worked. In the aftermath, Goldfinger's Korean henchman, martial arts expert Oddjob, kills Tilly with a metal-rimmed bowler hat.

After foiling Goldfinger's plan, Bond is drugged and kidnapped by Goldfinger as he attempts to fly back to London, and brought on board a stolen BOAC Stratocruiser, which is bound to Moscow with Goldfinger's remaining stocks of bullion. With the aid of a concealed knife, Bond breaks a window in the aeroplane; the depressurisation sucks Oddjob to his death. Bond and Goldfinger grapple in the tumbling aircraft, with Bond eventually strangling Goldfinger. Bond then orders the pilots to crash-land in the ocean. As they recover on board a weathership whose crew fetches them out of the water, Pussy tells Bond that, as a child, she was raped by her uncle (she says, "You know the definition of a virgin down there [in the South]? Well, it's a girl who can run faster than her brother. In my case I couldn't run as fast as my uncle. I was twelve.") and she had never met a man before Bond.


  • James Bond - A British Secret Service agent, sent to investigate gold smuggling.
  • Auric Goldfinger - The richest man in England, Goldfinger is also the treasurer for the Soviet counter-intelligence agency SMERSH. He intends to finance SMERSH's schemes by robbing Fort Knox. Goldfinger's name is based on the Hungarian-born architect, Ernő Goldfinger's.[1]
  • Pussy Galore - The head of a lesbian gang known as "The Cement Mixers" , enlisted by Goldfinger to aid in "Operation Grand Slam." Pussy's name is connected to her leadership of a circus group of cat-burglar, cat-women, Amazon lesbian acrobats (called "abrocats") in the novel, but that is only insinuated in the screen adaptation.[2]
  • M - The head of the British Secret Service, who sends Bond to investigate the smuggling operation. He is helped by his secretary Miss Moneypenny and his Chief of Staff Bill Tanner.
  • Oddjob - An expert in unarmed combat, he is Goldfinger's manservant as well as his bodyguard. He wears a bowler (derby) hat rimmed with a metal edge, which is used as a discus-type weapon.
  • Jill Masterton - Auric Goldfinger's secretary who helps him cheat in card games. When she betrays him by helping Bond, Goldfinger retaliates by painting her entire body with gold paint, suffocating her. (This is a fictitious method of murder. Humans can not be suffocated merely by covering the entire body with paint, unless the paint forms a seal over the mouth and nose. [2])
  • Tilly Masterton - Jill's sister, she tries to kill Goldfinger in revenge, but is prevented from doing so by Bond. In the novel, Tilly is completely unimpressed by Bond, but is strongly attracted to Pussy Galore. This attitude is mirrored in the film, where she is killed by Oddjob much earlier than in the book.

Gold motifs

In the novel, Goldfinger's obsession with gold is more explicit; sexually so. Both his family name and his first name are related to gold ("Auric" is an adjective pertaining to gold). He wears yellow briefs to suntan in, has a collection of yellow-jacketed pornographic books and can only find satisfaction in copulating with gold-painted women (supposedly prostitutes), he travels in a gold plated car, employs a blonde secretary and even has a ginger cat (which is eaten by Oddjob for dinner after Bond uses it in a ruse). He employs Korean servants who are repeatedly referred to as "yellow-faced". (Despite Goldfinger's relations with the Soviet Union, they are from South Korea, not its Communist North). The film keeps the colour of the Rolls-Royce and secretary’s hair, but not the other insensitive material, and adds other gold motifs (see film discussion). A bit of Goldfinger's eulogy to gold ("I love its colour, its brilliance, its divine heaviness.") is one of few dialogue lines from the novel to be kept relatively intact in the film, but Gert Fröbe maintains the subtext of his character's fetish for the metal through expressions, such as when Bond distracts his putt with an ingot, and when the villain is forced to turn away and leave Fort Knox's contents.

2002 Penguin Books paperback edition.

Background facts on the writing of the novel

  • The villain's name was borrowed from Fleming's neighbor in Hampstead, architect Ernő Goldfinger, and the character bears some resemblance to the person. Fleming was incensed by the replacement of Victorian buildings with the architect's modernist designs, particularly a terrace at Goldfinger's own residence at 2 Willow Road. Goldfinger consulted his lawyers when the book was published, prompting Fleming to suggest renaming the character "Goldprick," but the affair was eventually settled out of court, Fleming agreeing to pay for Goldfinger's legal costs, six copies of the book, and an agreement that the character's first name, Auric, would always be used.[3][4][5]
  • Goldfinger is typically a German-Jewish name, and the protagonists of the novel "Goldfinger" know this, but neither Bond nor Du Pont think Goldfinger is Jewish. Instead Bond pegs the red-haired blue-eyed man as a Balt, and indeed Goldfinger proves to be an expatriate Latvian from Riga.
  • Ian Fleming himself liked the color of gold enough to own a gold-plated typewriter, on which he wrote some of the Bond novels. In the mid-1990s, this machine was supposedly purchased by the fifth official Bond actor, Pierce Brosnan, in Jamaica.[3]
  • The actual gold reserves of the US government had declined from 701 Million ounces in 1949 to 557.9 Million ounces in 1959-and would further decline to 291.6 Million ounces by 1971.[6]

Publication history

The following are the publications of Goldfinger.[7]


London: Jonathan Cape. First British edition. 1st printing: 23 March 1959.

London: Book Club. Printed in 1959.

England: Viking/Penguin. 4 April 2002. ISBN 0-670-91036-8


London: Pan. Paperback. 1st, 2nd and 3rd printings: 1961.

London: Pan. Paperback. 4th printing: 1962; 5th printing: 1962; 6th printing: 1962; 7th printing: 1963.

London: Pan. Paperback. 7th printing: 1963; 8th printing: 1963; 9th printing: 1963.

London: Pan. Paperback. 9th and 10th printings: 1963; 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th printings: 1964; 18th, 19th and 20th printings: 1965.

London: Pan. Paperback. 21st printing: 1969.

London: Pan. Paperback. 22nd printing: 1972; 23rd printing: 1973; 24th printing: 1973; 25th printing: 1975; 26th printing: 1976. ISBN 0-330-10238-9

St Albans [Hertford]: Triad/Panther. Paperback. 1st printing: 1978. ISBN 0-586-04519-8

St Albans [Hertford]: Triad/Panther. Paperback. 2nd printing: 1979. ISBN 0-586-04519-8

London: Triad/Granada. Paperback. Reprinted: 1982. ISBN 0-586-04519-8

London: Triad/Panther/Granada. Paperback. Reprinted: 1984; Reprinted: 1986. ISBN 0-586-04519-8

Sevenoaks [Kent]: Coronet. Paperback. 1st printing: February 1989. ISBN 0-340-42568-7

Sevenoaks [Kent]: Coronet. Paperback. 6th printing: n.d. ISBN 0-340-42568-7

London: Penguin. Paperback. 4 April 2002. ISBN 0-14-100285-9

Bath [England]: New Portway/Chivers Press. Large print edition. Hardcover. 1st printing: 1983. ISBN 085119205X

England: Eagle Large Print. Hardcover. 1st printing: 1992. ISBN 0792713206

Bath [England]: Paragon/Chivers Press. Large print edition. Softcover. 1st printing: March 1993.

London: Hutchinson. Children’s edition. Paperback. 1st printing: May 1976. Part of the ‘Bull’s-eye’ series. ISBN 0091269911

England: Nelson Thomes. Children’s edition. Paperback. 1st printing: June 1976. Part of the ‘Bull’s-eye’ series. ISBN 0-7487-1019-1


In 1964, Goldfinger became the third entry in the James Bond film series. Sean Connery returned as Bond, while German actor Gert Fröbe played Auric Goldfinger. The film was mostly similar to the novel, but Jill and Tilly Masterson have shortened roles and earlier deaths in the movie's storyline. The plot of the film was also changed from stealing the gold at Ft. Knox to irradiating the gold vault with a dirty bomb. In addition, in the movie the population of Fort Knox is ostensibly rendered unconscious by nerve gas sprayed by aerial deployment — not by drugged drinking water, as Fleming had originally written.

Fleming's original novel was adapted as a daily comic strip which was published in the British Daily Express newspaper and syndicated around the world. The adaptation ran from October 3, 1960 to April 1, 1961. The adaptation was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky. It was reprinted by Titan Books in 2004 in an edition known as the Goldfinger collection.

The 1973 BBC documentary Omnibus: The British Hero featured Christopher Cazenove playing a number of such title characters (e.g. Richard Hannay and Bulldog Drummond), including James Bond in dramatised scenes from Goldfinger - notably featuring the hero being threatened with the novel's circular saw, rather than the film's laser beam - and Diamonds Are Forever.[8]

In 2010, BBC4 is going to produce a new radio play "Goldfinger" with approval of EON Productions, who were satisfied with the last radio play "Dr.No" on the 2008 Centenary of Ian Flemings birthday. They'd like it if Toby Stephens who played Die Another Day Bond villain Gustav Graves,would return to play 007 again after he played the role already in the "Dr.No" radioplay. Ian McKellen is going to play Goldfinger and Rosamund Pike, Stephen's co-star from Die Another Day will play Pussy Galore.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Lee Pfeiffer, Dave Worrall (1999). The Essential Bond. Boxtree: Pan Macmillan, 33-43. ISBN 0-7522-1758-5.
  3. ^ Dominic Sandbrook (2007). White Heat - A history of Britain in the swinging sixties. p. 622. ISBN 978-0-349-11820-8. 
  4. ^ Ben Macintyre (5 April 2008). "Was Ian Fleming the real 007?". The Times (London). Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  5. ^ John Ezard (3 June 2005). "How Goldfinger nearly became Goldprick". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  6. ^ Gold Commission Report (1980)
  7. ^ "Publication History of Goldfinger". Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  8. ^ Radio Times, 6–12 October 1973, pages 74-79

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