Set in early eighteenth-century Scotland, the novel recounts the corruption of a boy of strict Calvinist parentage by a mysterious stranger under whose influence he commits a series of murders. The stranger assures the boy that no sin can affect the salvation of an elect person. The reader, while recognizing the stranger as Satan, 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 boy's imagination. This edition reprints the text of the unexpurgated first edition of 1824, later 'corrected' in an attempt to placate the Calvinists.
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From the Publisher
Set in early eighteenth-century Scotland, James Hogg's masterpiece is a brilliant psychological study of religious fanaticism and the power of evil. Led on by his sinister companion, Gil-Martin, Robert Wringhim commits a series of atrocious crimes. As the novel progresses, however, and the complexity of Wringhim's mind is revealed, the reader begins to doubt whether Gil-Martin even exists. This edition of The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner places the work within the context of Calvinism, Scottish political and constitutional history, and early psychological theories of "double consciousness." A wide-ranging introduction discusses the novel in relation to its setting as well as to the period in which it was composed.
From the Back Cover