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The Private Memoirs and Confessions Of A Justified Sinner
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Classic Fiction
Canongate Classics
Publication Date
23 June 2008
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited

The Private Memoirs and Confessions Of A Justified Sinner

Written in 1824, James Hogg’s masterpiece is a brilliant portrayal of the power of evil. Set in early eighteenth-century Scotland, the novel recounts the corruption of a boy of strict Calvinist upbringing by a mysterious stranger under whose influence he commits a series of murders. The reader, while recognising the stranger as the Devil, is prevented by the subtlety of the novel’s structure from finally deciding whether, for all his vividness and wit, he is more than a figment of the imagination. This is the only complete edition of Hogg’s Confessions, since it was first published. All subsequent editions, until now, have altered the text or omitted both the engraved Frontispiece and the (fictional) Dedication. In his notes to the Canongate edition, David Groves discusses the significance of both, in terms of the novels structures and ironies.

James Hogg (1770-1835) was born in the Ettrick Forest near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. He left school for farm work at the age of seven and became a shepherd in his teens. Steeped in the oral tradition and encouraged by his employers, he determined to be a poet like Burns, and in 1810 he went to Edinburgh to seek a literary career. Success finally came with The Queen’s Wake (1813). Hogg’s first three novels drew on the folk tradition, yet had elements that were never fully understood or appreciated by his audience in Edinburgh, and Confessions made little impact when it first appeared. He continued, however, to publish poetry, and even more prolifically, prose.

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