Saltoun, Lady Mary Helena. After.
London: Duckworth, 1930.
First edition. 8vo. 192pp. Publisher’s original purple cloth, titled in gilt to spine, a trifle stained and rubbed here and there with two small dents to the spine, a strong, tight copy. Internally clean. A weird little book, fascinating and rather repugnant at the same time, despite the redemptive arc. A man, a truly awful racist, misogynist, self centred asshat of a man, dies in an accident in Borneo. He journeys to the afterlife and ends up in a surprisingly amenable hell, that he gradually discovers is not what it seems. It’s rather compellingly written, once you get past the jarring awfulness that was obviously intended at the time to paint a picture of a “normal” upstanding chap who is obviously also toxic and worthless, but which now feels more like normalisation of behaviour which is pretty horrific. His hell, or Purgatory seeing as it is somewhat processional, is pretty fascinating, populated as it is by a weird crowd of colonial gin on the verandah types (at least that smacks of accuracy), its social structure and the machinations of its occupants are suitably unsettling. It’s turning out to be one of those deeply disturbing stories that I can’t stop thinking about, Lady Saltoun is going to stand some looking into, I’m going to have to do a catalogue of aristocratic ladies writing fabulously weird stories.