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You Only Live Twice (novel): Wikis


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You Only Live Twice  
1964 Jonathan Cape first edition
First edition cover - published by Jonathan Cape.
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 March 16, 1964
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Preceded by On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Followed by The Man with the Golden Gun

You Only Live Twice is the twelfth novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series. First published by Jonathan Cape on March 16, 1964, it holds the distinction of being the last novel written by Fleming to be published in his lifetime. The novel The Man with the Golden Gun (1965) and the short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights were later published posthumously.

You Only Live Twice is the concluding chapter in what is known as the "Blofeld Trilogy." The trilogy began with Thunderball, and, after the interlude novel The Spy Who Loved Me, resumed with On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It marks the final novel appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and references to his criminal organisation, SPECTRE, in Fleming's novels.

In 1966, it was adapted by writer Roald Dahl as the fifth entry in the official EON Productions James Bond film series and first released theatrically on June 12, 1967. It starred Sean Connery in his fifth appearance as James Bond 007. Shortly after release, Connery stepped down from the role, leading to the hiring of George Lazenby for 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Connery later returned officially one last time in Diamonds Are Forever (1971). You Only Live Twice is the first Bond movie to greatly deviate from the source material. Other than the Japanese setting and some character names, the two stories are very different.

The title is often mistaken as being the work of a Japanese poet named Matsuo Bashō; however, the unique title comes from a haiku that James Bond wrote for his friend Tiger Tanaka. It is also mentioned in the novel that it isn't a haiku at all, that in actuality it is a failed attempt by Bond after being taught the basics for creating a haiku.

In the epigraph and later explained in the novel, the haiku is listed as being "after Basho", meaning written in the poet's style.

You only live twice:
Once when you're born
And once when you look death in the face.
You Only Live Twice, epigraph


Plot summary

James Bond, his career fading after the wedding-day murder of his wife Tracy Bond, is promoted by M to a special branch of MI6. M had been planning to offer Bond a dismissal from the secret service, but later changes his mind and gives Bond a last-chance opportunity to shape up. Bond is subsequently re-numbered as 7777 ("four sevens"), and assigned an impossible mission: convincing the head of Japan's secret intelligence service, Tiger Tanaka, to provide information about an informant within the Soviet Union, informally referred to as Magic 44. In exchange, Tanaka asks Bond to kill Dr. Guntram Shatterhand, who operates a politically embarrassing "Garden of Death" where people go to commit suicide, whether they later decide they want to or not. Bond accidentally discovers that Shatterhand is his nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and gladly takes the mission, keeping his knowledge of Blofeld a secret so that he can exact revenge for his wife's death. Aided by former Japanese movie star Kissy Suzuki, and, with make up and training, Bond attempts to live and think as a Japanese in order to penetrate Shatterhand's castle. Bond is renamed by Tiger as Taro Todoroki while on the mission.

Bond becomes an expert in staff fighting, karate, and judo. He also learns how to calm his senses with the practice of Yoga.

Bond ultimately exacts revenge on Blofeld in a duel, Blofeld armed with a sword and Bond with a wooden staff. Bond kills Blofeld by strangling him, but, on escaping, suffers a head injury, leaving him an amnesiac living as a Japanese fisherman/merchant with Kissy, while the rest of the world believes him dead. While Bond's health improves, Kissy conceals his true identity so as to keep him forever to herself. Kissy eventually sleeps with Bond and becomes pregnant, and hopes that Bond would propose marriage after she found the right time to tell him about her pregnancy. At the novel's end, Bond browses through some of Kissy's personal papers and finds a newspaper article about Vladivostok, making him wonder if the far-off Russian city is the key to his missing memory. It is unknown if Bond ever finds out that Kissy is pregnant.



In 1967, the book was adapted into a film starring Sean Connery. The film is the first to show Blofeld's face on-screen. The plot of the film is sufficiently different to be a different story, though several details remain the same (such as location and the primary characters).

In 1990 the novel was adapted into a 90 minute radio play for BBC Radio 4 with Michael Jayston playing James Bond.

Publication history

  • March 16, 1964, Jonathan Cape, hardcover, first British edition.
    • Cover by Richard Chopping.
    • First state's copyright page notes: "First Published 1964," second state's notes: "First Published March 1964." 56,000 printed combined.
  • August 1964, New American Library, hardcover, first American edition.
  • July 1965, Signet Books, paperback, first American edition, ISBN 0-451-08503-5
  • 1965, Pan Books, paperback, first British edition, ISBN 0-330-10434-9
  • 1978, Triad/Panther, paperback, British, ISBN 0-586-04520-1
  • 1982, Triad/Granada, paperback, British, ISBN 0-586-04520-1
  • 1988, Coronet Books, paperback, British, ISBN 0-340-42563-6. Introduction by Anthony Burgess.
  • April 4, 2002, Viking/Penguin, hardcover, British, ISBN 0-670-91042-2
  • September 2003, Penguin Books, paperback, American, ISBN 0-14-200327-1
  • October 26, 2006, Penguin Books, paperback, British, ISBN 0-14-102826-2. Introduction by Mo Hayder

Comic strip adaptation

Ian Fleming's novel was adapted as a daily comic strip published in the British Daily Express newspaper, and syndicated worldwide. The adaptation ran from May 18, 1965 to January 8, 1966, was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky. It was the final James Bond strip for Gammidge, while McClusky returned to illustrating the strip in the 1980s; the strip was reprinted by Titan Books in 2004.

In the segment featuring Bond's obituary there is a reference to "sensationalistic novels" written about Bond's adventures (as in the novel's plot summary, above), wherein artist McLusky uses actual covers of Fleming's books.


External links



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