The author lays his ideas on the marble table of the cafe.

The publisher picks them up . . . and the revolts that follow are legendary.

I am a half of the way through the recording of an audiobook of The Sinner by Stuart MacGregor and less amusingly concerned with the sexism. 

Everybody knows about the sexism of The Sinner, by Stuart MacGregor, it should have even been known for it in its day. But nobody talks about The Sinner, and  so the discussion is never relevant, never happens.

I have been talking about The Sinner, writing about it, publishing it, reading it, for the sake of all things holy.

I have been doing all those things and I felt that more was needed on the subject of the book's morality . . . for the sake of all things holy! 

It is likely my responsibility since I have started the conversation about MacGregor, and The Sinner, started the conversation by publishing it, republishing the book which has not beeen in print since 1973, and then only months after its author's death.

I suggested policing the book. This was the wrong word. In a conversation, somebody thought I was suggesting we cancel The Sinner, cancel Stuart MacGregor; cancel meaning 'to cancel', with the brazen solidity of the outraged mob, that kind of 'cancelling'.

But I didn't mean that when I said that I wished to 'police' the sexism of The Sinner, by Stuart MacGregor. I think I meant something far more forensic, and the start of that exploration has been to itemise what I am talking about.

I do not mean to make a virtue of the fact that even by the standards of its day, The Sinner makes unremittingly sexist commentary in its tone; and it is a novel that carries at least four different voices.

The different voices are hard to read.

They are:


  • The internal voice of Denis Sellars; he is against everything and everyone, and has suicidal mood swings;
  • A fervently romantic voice talking about and even being, The City (Edinburgh), highly emotional, passionate and fanciful
  • The actual descriptions of what is really happening;
  • Denis' external voice; frustrated and battling against what appear to be constant, forcible sexual urges;


There are also in the first half of The Sinner alone, at least two by MacGregor to describe exactly the stream of consciousness thoughts of a man during sexual intercourse.

This is so brave, probably the bravest, most foolihardy, uncessary experiment on all literature, but it called to MacGregor. I say in his favour, they are incredible to read, enormous fun.

But if you think about, and I have started to think about it, combine that experiment - - man attempts to describe what goes through a man's mind during intercourse - - and combine it with that highly depressive set of voices I have described, stir it with a spoon labelled 1 9 7 3 ... 

It's not going to end well, MacGregor.


I will attach some notes from collecting specimens of what exactly I am talking about in The Sinner, by Stuart MacGregor.




Pin It