Fifty years ago, a Spanish translation of James Bond books by Ian Fleming came out in Spain. Spanish readers were excited by the literary release that was later the basis of the blockbuster hits, but they might not have realized how much was actually missing from the text. Much of these books were cut out and altered due to strict laws of censorship at the time. Of course, many countries had strict censorship laws in the past. However, these censored translations are still being reproduced and sold today. If another Spanish translation of James Bond was made, it could easily be sold under modern law with little censorship.
The Books Were Originally Released Under General Franco’s Rule
Ian Fleming’s books originally underwent the Spanish language translation in the 1940’s. However, at that time, the government was hesitant to let any outside ideas and foreign concepts into the country. General Franco worried it would threaten the existing ideals of the culture. Once the release of the books in Spain was finally approved, censors were diligent to remove any and all questionable material. Spain was very Catholic at the time, so much of the content in the Bond books was too explicit and salacious. Entire chapters were cut, and even the last two pages of Dr. No were removed because they were considered pornographic.
The Censorship Continues Even Though the Government has Changed
After Franco’s rule was over, you would assume that the books would be released in their entirety after a Spanish translator reviewed the censored parts. Surprisingly enough, that is not so, and the censored versions are still being released. This might seem like laziness on the publisher’s part, but it is more likely a result of Spain’s “pact of forgetting.” The pact is essentially a conscious decision for Spaniards to forget that their government was ever doing anything wrong. By acknowledging the overt censorship of these books, publishers and translators would also be acknowledging the time when their rulers were a little too harsh, which would go against the pact.
Spaniards, unless they get their hands on an English to Spanish translation of James Bond from another country, will never know the true naughtiness of the James Bond books. However, these aren’t the only books affected by the censorship of the past. Other full versions of famous works such as Rosemary’s Baby, and Parallel 42 have never seen the light of day in Spain.