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The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – June 6, 2010
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About the Author
Ian Duncan is Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.
Top Customer Reviews
The real pleasure for me comes in reading a work that I had never heard about prior to reading. One of the primary pleasures of intellectual pursuits is the joy of discovery: finding out something you didn't know before. It's a quiet, private pleasure that doesn't require a group for validation. This was the case for me with James Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, originally published in 1824. Private Memoirs is not quite the first serial killer novel, not quite the first historical novel, and certainly not the first novel of the Scottish literary boom of the early 19th century, but it was influenced by all of those literary trends and more besides. Private Memoirs takes the form of two opposed narratives: One by an anonymous Editor, purporting to recount the same series of events the other narrative, the Private Memoirs and Confessions of the title. The Justified Sinner in this case is Robert Wringhim, the bastard son of a Scottish Laird and his over-zealous religious wife.Read more ›
This split focus allows two different perspectives on a series of events, namely a murder, which are subjective among the community because no one knows what really happened. Robert acts innocent, and some people believe him, but the two witnesses to the murder campaign against Robert. Not only does it work to reiterate Hogg’s theme that no single account of the truth is wholly truthful, but it also organizes information for readers so we can sort out for ourselves what actually happened in the novel. Such a useful structure plays into the book’s psychological thrill, as well as its gothic nature.
In the Editor’s account of the murders--particularly the murder of Robert Wringhim’s brother, George Colwan--Wringhim is rumored to be the murderer based on the account of two women. These women are suspicious of him and his counterpart, a man who says his name is Gil-Martin. The editor’s narrative gives a perspective that readers can contrast with Wringhim’s narrative.
Religion plays a large role in Private Memoirs because it is connected with greater themes in the novel: good versus evil and subjectivity versus objectivity.Read more ›
Some might see this as a diatribe against Reformed theology, but I do not think that is the point (the author claims that this is a radical, aberrant version of Reformed Christianity, and I don't think he was being sarcastic). Instead, this could be seen as a cautionary tale on the dangers of a person using religious sophistry to justify self-serving behavior that they know is unacceptable within their religion/ethics. Or you could just read it as a nice, solid Gothic novel with a well executed unreliable narrator.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" is a somewhat avant-garde and deeply disturbing book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by HH
This book is almost two hundred tears old and yet it is still relevant. While I was reading this , I was considering the extremist religions out there today. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Wendy Busby
Part Romantic novel, part anti-Calvinist screed, part horror story, and part Gothic spiraling of betrayal, murder, guilt, madness, and misery, the thing that amazed me most about... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mark O'Brien
Towering 'mystery' novel reveals how dangerous it is to mix Calvinism and Old Scratch.Published 18 months ago by Peter Jakobsen
James Hogg's classic, but little known, work is an extremely intriguing gothic commentary on the dangers of fanaticism. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
The novel begins with an "editor's introduction" that tells of a Scots family in the early 18th century. A fun-loving laird unwisely takes a puritanical young bride. Read morePublished on April 7, 2014 by Steven Davis
In James Hogg's masterpiece the Gothic and the religeous coincide smoothly and uniquely "Scottish" exploration of the Caledonian antisyzygy - that which unites us now in... Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by Ewan Smith
Oxford's edition does not disappoint. A well written introduction and minimal mediation of the text - which Hogg would surely have loved. Read morePublished on May 17, 2013 by Mike Kieser