The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

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Wordsworth Editions, Mar 4, 1996 - Fiction - 193 pages

With an Introduction and Notes by David Blair, University of Kent at Canterbury

James Hogg's most ambitious prose work, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, is now widely acclaimed as his masterpiece.

In the early years of the 18th century, Scotland is torn by religious and political strife. Hogg's sinner, justified by his Calvinist conviction that his own salvation is pre-ordained, is suspected of involvement in a series of bizarre and hideous crimes. A century later his memoirs reveal the extraordinary, macabre truth. The tale is chilling for its astute psychological accuracy as it illustrates, with power and economy, the dire effect of self-righteous bigotry on a fanatical character.

In the first half of his new introduction David Blair provides a detailed explanation of the historical and religious contexts of Hogg's novel. In the second half he probes the book's brilliant, complex engagement with issues of identity, history and narrative itself.

 

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User Review  - datrappert - LibraryThing

***** for this volume's main entry. This is a one-of-a-kind book that manages to tell the same story in two different ways and achieve two different reactions on the part of the reader. The villain of ... Read full review

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User Review  - amerynth - LibraryThing

I bought a copy of James Hogg's "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" for a group read months ago. The cover of this edition freaked one of my kids out, so I put it "away" and ... Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Son of a Scottish shepherd and descended from minstrels, Hogg led a life that has the fictional quality Thomas Hardy was to capture later in the century in his novels of country life. After meeting Sir Walter Scott in 1802, Hogg adopted the name "Ettrick Shepherd," a pseudonym under which he published original lyrics and ballads. In 1814 Hogg met William Wordsworth and enjoyed literary friendships in the Lake District, although he parodied the other poets' styles and mannerisms in The Poetic Mirror (1816). He married at age 50 and fathered five children, whom he tried to support by the same kind of unproductive farming at which Robert Burns had labored a generation before. Like Burns, his convivial nature and verbal talents won him a following in fashionable society, especially after the publication of his first novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), when he was 53 years old. The first novel to explore psychological aberrations, it traces the collapse of a personality under the pressure of social conformity, native superstition, and religious excess. Since the introduction by Andre Gide to the 1947 Cresset edition, it has acquired an academic following and a new popularity. There is a James Hogg Society, founded in 1982, which publishes a newsletter.

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