Mary, as an initiate, would be expected to take part in orgies at the temple and ‘have many lovers’ in one night. I say this as my female contemporaries have pointed out sexist attitudes in literature that I haven’t spotted.
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His heroes also use other racial slang words which are pretty offensive today but weren’t back in the sixties.
Probably the most glaring racial stereotype in the Indian Character Ratnadatta.
Wheatley has him speaking in this Indian accent, over emphasising the F’s which looks clunky on the page and is actually a painful and awkward to read.
With this in mind I tracked down a copy of his 1960 book The Satanist (actually, that’s a lie. I enjoy reading and watching older fiction to see how things have changed since the time of writing. The story follows British Secret Services’ attempts to stop communist infiltration of Britain via the trade unions.
The actual reasons are unclear but from what I’ve picked up from comments on social media and conversations with friends the reasons for his burial range from poor writing to colonial outdated racists attitudes. One conversation I’d had with a fellow churchgoer who wasn’t really big on reading horror (funny that) was that Wheatley’s work shouldn’t be read because of the occult themes.
James was writing in a time of colonialist attitudes and wider class division and they seem to be forgiven.
As a novel it was real page turner with some good, jaw dropping plot twists. Okay, being a man I’m not going to be as able to spot sexist attitudes in literature as my female contemporaries.
Many older writers of the fantastic seem to have achieved cult status I this day and age. I wasn’t expecting a lot of sex and gore but I was expecting a lot of sexist attitudes and racial stereotyping.
Mary attends a spiritualist group and meets one Mr Ratnadatta, a talent scout for the Order of the Great Ram, a Satanist group who meet in a temple in central London.
A young agent called Barney Sullivan infiltrates the communist unions whilst Mary Morden infiltrates the Satanist sect which was responsible for her husband’s murder.
‘The Reds’ are also linked to a group of Satanists.