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The Private Memoirs and Confessions Of A Justified Sinner: With a New Introduction by Ian Rankin Paperback – 7 Aug 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (7 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841959588
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841959580
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Hogg's enduring masterpiece is a triumph and deserves to be read, enjoyed and discussed by a new generation." (Ian Rankin, from his introduction)

"Hogg's masterpiece is a psychological thriller, a metaphysical puzzle and a theological and philosophical maze all in one. Its inconsistencies and unresolved questions are what make it at once so gripping and yet so hard to grasp. A strange, disturbing obsession of a book, and a key text of Scottish literature." (James Robertson, author of THE TESTAMENT OF GIDEON MACK)

"James Hogg's Confessions is one of the great works on that sinister border between the supernatural and the psychological - a borderland that Scottish authors seem to have explored with a particular relish. Its atmosphere is unique, its penetration is shocking, and the truthfulness of its account of religious mania is both timeless and timely." (Philip Pullman)


'An unclassifiable masterpiece.'

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a remarkable book, remarkable because it predates Stevenson, James and Poe and yet matches them at their very best, remarkable because for all that it remains such a little known work. Indeed, it would have remained more or less forgotten had it not been for a friend lending a copy to Andre Gide in 1924, leading to its eventual republication in 1947. As Gide puts it in the excellent Afterword to this version, "how explain that such a work should have failed to become famous".

But then, how does one categorise a novel that comes at you from so many directions. It is certainly the tale of a serial killer every bit as gripping as Jack the Ripper, except it not only gives you the who-dunnit, the Confessions are recounted by the who-dunnit. It is a tale of devilry and persecution, of surrealism and the supernatural, and its exposition of religious bigotry transcends time.

The story is told twice, firstly by someone called "the Editor", a somewhat self-agrandising soul setting out his view of the protagonist, Robert Wringhim, many years after the event, and giving us the benefit of his own sly prejudices and take on the world. The second account is by the protagonist himself, a tortured individual who takes us through his lonely life and deep into his psyche, to show us the extraordinary development and flowering of a psychopathic mind.

Set in early nineteenth-century Edinburgh, the book also does a pretty good job of painting that background canvas, with the broad variety of religious beliefs on offer, life lived freely on the one hand or under considerable moral strictures on the other and the everyday violence of the times.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9c8246f0) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c759c54) out of 5 stars Extraordinary Psychological Masterpiece from 1824 4 Jun. 2011
By Fr. Charles Erlandson - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" by James Hogg is an extraordinary psychological masterpiece written in 1824. It's an impressive work of fiction, especially for having been written so long ago.

I first stumbled across this incredible novel at a Half-Price Books and Record Store and bought it for its title alone. I had a fairly Calvinistic theology, and so the idea of a man who abuses the notion of the elect to do evil and even commit murder piqued my interest. It's impossible to do justice to this novel in a short review, but trust me: it's unique and well worth reading. I've never read anything quite like it before.

The grotesque story of how a man is twisted by an abuse of Calvinistic theology, by his mentor, and by his own warped psyche seems more modern than something written in 1824. What makes "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" most memorable is the fact that the story is told first from an editorial perspective, and then from the perspective of the deranged sinner himself. It's especially the juxtaposition of the two narratives in the reader's mind that brings the novel something like a horrific 3-D effect! Even as the reader compares and contrasts the two accounts of the events, he can feel his brain growing! It's not too much to say that the novel gets into the psyche not only of the murderer himself but also into the psyche of the reader himself.

It's a disturbing but thought-provoking, mind-bending, and soul-challenging read. In spite of its age and its overt theme of religious narrow-mindedness, it's a compelling book of psychological intrigue that will prove fascinating to many readers. It's a relatively short book and an underappreciated masterpiece.

This Kindle version appears to be formatted in a pleasing enough way, and I enjoyed getting re-acquainted with this old friend of mine using this new technology.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bdeee28) out of 5 stars Touched by Mystery 4 Nov. 2012
By Brent Hightower - Published on
Format: Paperback
What a strange find this book was! I came across it in a public library, read it, felt nonplussed, felt incredulous, felt disturbed, felt amazed, and went back to read it again, only to find that it was no longer on the shelf or in the libraries data base! And this just added to the exceedingly strange feeling I had regarding the book!

It was written roughly 200 years ago by a man who lived in the hinterlands of Scotland, whose grandfather was reputed to be the last person to communicate with the fairies! Well anyway, all of this would of course strike you as complete gibberish - until you read the book!

My point here is this . . . how on earth did some impoverished shepherd, who lived in a thatched hut somewhere way up near the Hebrides, ever manage to write such a book? For in how many ways does this book transcend the standard writing or even the great writing of its time? It would be hard to say because in many ways it also exceeds that of the current era.

That most people today have never heard of the work isn't surprising because at the time it was written it must have been regarded as quite insane, and so there would have been no body of reviews to recommend it. And although an honest interpretation of subsequent history, psychology, and politics might not dispel the notion that the book is insane, it might very well recommend it as an amazing prediction of modern times, but only perhaps because the things we refuse to confront in our own natures are to some great degree timeless . . .

Well . . . so what the devil is the book then? It is a powerful psychological work, a theological work, a political work and a horror story all wrapped into one. It is a work that gets to the fundamental questions of religion and society . . . it is surreal, and it is entirely subjective . . . in other words, it is a perfect work for interpreting either modern times or any other period of human history.

It was the writers ill-fate to have had a powerful vision of the complexity and the harrowing nature of these questions before most people were willing to deeply confront them. It is our fate that we are still, for the most part, unwilling to confront such questions today . . . and therefore James Hogg remains relatively unknown.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c5ac738) out of 5 stars Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner 18 Jun. 2012
By Yuliya - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wonderful classic book. Its very good subject to review thoughts and confesions of the author in the book he wrote.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c208f84) out of 5 stars 19th century page turner 1 July 2014
By Marc Brandl - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For an early example of Scottish literature it's quiet good. It gets a bit bogged down in the end, but for a early 19th century novel the first half is a real page turning psychological thriller...I'm glad they invented the concept of chapters later in the century :)
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