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The private memoirs and confessions of a justified sinner (Campion reprints) [Unknown Binding]

James Hogg
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Albert & Charles Boni (1925)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00089DVO0
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
113 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected treasure 10 Aug 2003
I picked this book up more or less at random, never having heard of it or Hogg before. Havng read it, I can't believe it doesn't have a higher profile as a classic of British literature, because it is one of the most startlingly original books I have ever read, and was well before its time in terms of structure and themes.
The book consists of two parallel narratives. The first is of an editor, who comes across the strange tale of a murder over 100 years after it occurred. The story is that of two estranged brothers, George Colwan and Robert Wringham. George is the heir to a lairdship, while Robert and his mother are thrown out of the estate because of her religious zeal and the possibility that Robert was fathered by another man (the sinister religious tutor for whom he is named). Burning with hate, Robert stalks George and a series of unpleasant episodes ensue which culminate in George's murder, and the disappearance of Robert and his mother. This is all told as a dry legal matter. The second narrative is Robert's diary, retelling the same events but with a decidedly supernatural twist. It is a brave move by the author to make the least sympethetic character in the book its narrator. Robert's actions are explained because he is morally unconstrained, because he has been told that his place in heaven is assured. As soon as he becomes aware of this, the stranger Gil-martin appears at his side, persuading him to do evil acts in the name of goodness, including the murder of his brother and his eventual flight and suicide.
There is so much to enjoy about this book. It is ostensibly an attack on predestination (the religious view that some people are chosen by God for heaven before they are born, and that nothing that they can do on earth alters this destiny).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Brilliance 12 Oct 2006
Like most people i stumbled accross this book without any real knowledge on the author and the book itself.

After reading this book i was simply amazed as to how such a book has not managed to emerge on the public scene with the ferosity as some modern day novels. I read some of the reviews that suggested reading the book in various ways and provided some sort of descritpion as to the meaning etc etc.

JUST READ IT AS THE AUTHOR INTENDED and then take what you want from it. It is such an insightful book.

However, one note of warning, it is written in Old Scots, and as such some of the language may be difficult for some, yet there is a glossary at the end. As a relatively young scotsman, i had trouble with some words, as they are predominantly lothian and east coast. But dont let that put you off, it is well worth it.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little known classic 18 Jan 2003
By A Customer
In this oft-overlooked classic, we are presented with parallel narratives, that of the editor and the 'sinner' himself, Robert Colwan. They tell apparently the same story, although there are elements in the editor's narrative that the sinner has excluded in his and vice versa. Neither narrator is particularly reliable. The supposedly impartial editor's savage bias against Robert is compounded by his certainty that he knows the whole story - when he is in fact recounting the tale from tradition, a notoriously unreliable source of accurate information. Robert is obviously unreliable for being such a vile, lying, duplicitous and religiously hypocritical sneak. His perversion of the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination lends him a superior attitude; something the editor has simply because he tells his version of the tale with all the rational pomposity of an omniscient being.
This makes 'Confessions of a Justified Sinner' an admittedly demanding read, but it is well worth it. We are challenged to accept that no truth can be uncovered in either narrative: the role Hogg gives himself towards the end of the novel allows him to disassociate himself with the editor's quest for the 'truth'. The main question, of course, is whether the Devil-figure, Gil-Martin, is the Devil himself or merely Robert's alter-ego, there to spur him on in to committing deeds his conscience would normally never allow. It should be noted that Gil-Martin first appears after Robert has been assured of his salvation by the abominable Reverend Wringhim. Evidence for and against Gil-Martin's existence appears throughout the novel. But whether he is real or not the point of Gil-Martin is to show that certain, twisted forms of Presbyterianism are sinful - not exactly distanced from the Devil itself, it would seem.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Up on My List of Interesting Fiction 30 Nov 2002
Hogg's novel is about 150 years ahead of its time. Published in 1824, the work has everything readers of post-modern novels could ask for, including clustered narratives, self-reflexive point-of-view, unreliable narrators, unsympathetic-protagonist, etc. Hogg is engaging in a highly playful exercise, yet at the same time the novel can be read as an entirely chilling depiction of what may happen to the human psyche when it is given absolutely free-reign. The story takes place in Scotland in the early 18th century, a time of political and religious foment. It chiefly concerns the religious "progress" of Robert Wingham. Robert's mother is a religious enthusiast who has left the household of her husband, George Colwan, laird of Dalcastle, because he does not meet her stringent standards of pious behavior. Before she leaves, she delivers a son, whom Colwan names after him and names him his sole heir. A year after she has left she delivers another son, Robert, whom the editor-narrator who first tells the story is too polite to say is illegitimate, but it's evident by all appearances and intimations that Robert is the son of Lady Colwan and the Reverend Wringhim, a dour, intolerant, "self-conceited pedagogue," who is the polar opposite of the easy-going laird. Reverend Wingham undertakes the instruction of young Robert and eventually adopts him. Robert, like his father, is a cold fish, who abhors the presence of women and anything else that he thinks will lead him to sin. Young George, on the other hand is naturally open and fun-loving, engaging in the "normal" activities young men of the time preferred. This attitude piques the ire of Robert, who sees any activity that is not directly related to religion as frivolous. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good
A good immersion into Scottish writing. Not that easy to read for newbies but it gets the grip as you go on. Recommended
Published 10 months ago by Santiago
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty hard-going but enjoyable
Not really book I could read all in one go. I found it best to read it in small bursts, as there is a pretty dry writing style. Read more
Published 12 months ago by thereader33
3.0 out of 5 stars A Peculiar and Rather Dark Novel !
At this time of writing I have read this book through twice and I have to say that I have found it very difficult to decide how to rate it ! Read more
Published 20 months ago by Brian I Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a justified reading sinner!
I bought this book first of all because I liked the title and found it intriguing. Funnily enough I bought it in Edinburgh where the book is based. Read more
Published on 15 July 2012 by Kelz
3.0 out of 5 stars Problems
Has this got anything to do with Adam Smith (though I know he wrote his books a long time before this was written). Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2012 by Sally Burdyke
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard going
I really struggled with this book: it's dense and complicated and I couldn't make it past the first 20 pages. I guess I was missing something....
Published on 11 Dec 2011 by L. Wittenberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever but hard to get through
It is an interesting insight into the mind of a religious fundamentalist and very consciously structured. Read more
Published on 13 July 2011 by MC
2.0 out of 5 stars Probably great but not what I was hoping for
I'm sure this is a great book, but as a few people have said it's hard going. I didn't finish it and so don't feel I can comment much more than this.
Published on 20 Feb 2011 by Manda Moo
5.0 out of 5 stars The devil rides out
I read this novel at face value, having never read any synopsis or analysis of it. My initial take was this is a very disturbing narrative for the people of 1824. Read more
Published on 12 Feb 2011 by Al
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant and not to be missed
I'd heard about this book for years and just never got round to reading it so suggested it for our book club. It was an amazing treat. Read more
Published on 1 May 2010 by Ailsa M. Hollinshead
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