British Fiction, 18001829

HOGG, James. Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, The (1824)

Contemporary Reviews

La Belle Assemblée, n.s. 30 (Aug 1824): 81.

Since the publication of the Devil’s Elixir, an equally extraordinary, wild, and incomprehensible production has appeared, under the title of ‘The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.’ It purports to be written by the sinner himself, previously to his commission of the crime of suicide; but, in point of fact, we understand it is from the pen of that elegant Scotch novelist, Mr. Hogg, the Ettrick shepherd. The story is constructed upon a relation given, some time ago in Blackwood’s Magazine, of a suicide’s body having been discovered in a well-preserved state, after more than a century’s inhumation. Mr. Hogg’s grand object seems to be to ridicule the Calvinistical tenet of faith without works. Amidst much mystification and incongruous absurdity, considerable power is displayed; and, if the writer had condescended to render himself a little more intelligible, his success would have been far greater. The most remarkable point, however, about the work is, the resemblance which it bears, in its leading feature, to the Devil’s Elixir. In Mr. Hogg’s book, as in that of the German, the hero has his double, or demon; and, whether the numerous crimes that are perpetrated are perpetrated by the hero, or by the demon, Mr. Hogg himself does not appear to know. We confess our equal inability to solve the problem.

Notes: The Devil’s Elixir (EN2 1824: 47) is reviewed in the same issue.

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