Sunday 28 April 2013

Blofeld, a portrait of evil

I have blogged about villains in the past, for instance here and here. I have also mentioned in the past that Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the nemesis of James Bond, was one of my favorite villains in popular literature. I have recently read again his description in the novel Thunderball. It made a strong impression to me when I first read it 13 years ago (in September 2000) and it never lost its impact. I have decided to quote it here:

''Blofeld's own eyes were deep black pools surrounded -totally surrounded, as Mussoloni's were- by very clear whites. The doll-like effect of this unusual symmetry was enhanced by long silken black eyelashes that should have belonged to a woman. The gaze of these soft doll's eyes was totally relaxed and rarely held any expression stronger than the mild curiosity in the object of their focus. (...)Blofeld's gaze was a microscope, the window on the world on a superbly clear brain, with a focus that had been sharpened by thirty years of danger and of keeping just one step ahead of it (...)

The skin beneath the eyes that now slowly, mildly, surveyed his colleagues was unpouched. There was no sign of debauchery, illness, or old age on the large, white, bland face under the square, wiry black crew-cut The jawline, going on the appropriate middle-aged fat of authority, showed decision and independence. Only the mouth under a heavy, squat nose, marred what might have been the face of a philosopher or a scientist. Proud and thin, like a badly-healed wound, the compressed, dark lips, capable of only false, ugly smiles, suggested contempt, tyranny, and cruelty. But to an almost Shakespearian degree. Nothing about Blofeld was small.''

There is more to it, but overall it gives you an idea of the character. It is a beautifully sinister portrait of a very evil man. Ian Fleming may only have written popular literature, he knew his craft. Blofeld changed his appearance radically in the subsequent novels, always looking like the pure evil, malevolent man he is. But it all started in Thunderball with this long, slow, almost allegorical description.

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