The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

By James Hogg

Rating: 2 stars

This book is a satirical deconstruction of an extreme religious pre-deterministic position. The protagonist firmly believes himself to be saved by the Grace of god and so feels free to indulge his religious position to engage in some mightily unchristian behaviour. It’s difficult to say more without spoilers.

I think this book has problems with its structure. I nearly gave up with it several times before I had even got to the confession. The editor’s narrative is very slow to start with and the whole grammar feels awfully convoluted at times. The structure of a framing narrative, with a “found manuscript” in the middle didn’t work for me at all, and the whole book did rather feel ‘backwards’ in that I would probably have swapped the preceding and following portions of the editor’s narrative.

Without giving away spoilers, once we got into Robert’s (the titular sinner’s) narrative, I feel that the plot device used to get him to start sinning was not only somewhat obvious, but it also detracted from the strength of the argument and the philosophical underpinnings of the absolute pre-deterministic position.

An interesting idea, perhaps, but I’d be more interested to read a more contemporary take on the same issue.

Book details

ISBN: 9781853261886
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Year of publication: 1824

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