William Boyd’s recent adaptation of his own novel, Any Human Heart, in which an irritating member of the clergy who after having been earlier rebuffed by a declaration of atheism is finally told to “fuck off”. That jarred a little; I thought it at first a rather clumsy and unnecessary scene, a sop to atheists, since I’ve never met a religious practitioner quite as inept. Yet Logan Mountstuart was the antithesis to that ghastly picture of a perfect human being; it is what makes his story so interesting - it is why we care. His reaction demonstrated not superiority but his ability to strike out, his flawed humanity. Jane describes it well in a ‘victory’ of her own:
Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavour, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.