Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How Ian Fleming (James Bond Author) Uses Intransitive Verbs

From the examples that follow —culled from Ian Fleming’s novel Doctor No—you will realize that in all cases, Fleming uses intransitive verbs as sentence openers. In a novel where the hero is an action hero, this is understandable. By definition, ‘intransitive verbs’ express a doable action.

Bond stiffened.
M snorted.
Bond persisted.
Bond grinned.
The drinks came.
The food came.
The girl smiled.
Quarrel nodded.
The centipede stirred
Quarrel whistled.
He stiffened.
She blushed.
Bond smiled.
Silence fell.
Bond laughed.
She giggled.
Bond shrugged.
Bond paused.
Bond shivered.
The Governor grunted.

Fleming chooses his intransitive verbs so that they end the sentence. Nothing follows them. In other words, no object follows them. Why is this? Simply because he saves the object for the sentences that follow them:

Bond could feel it questing amongst the first hairs. It tickled. The skin on Bond’s belly fluttered (65).

Those are the odds against it, one in a million. I lived. By sheer will power I survived the operation and the months in the hospital (164).

I wrote offering a huge sum to buy it. They refused. So I studied these birds (168).
Bond lurched and his bruised shoulder hit the metal. He screamed. He went on screaming, regularly, with each contact of hand or knee or toes (192).

Senada Selmani, model

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