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A cornerstone of the can, James Hogg's 1824 masterpiece The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner is a brilliant portrayal of the power of evil. Set in early eighteenth-century Scotland, the vel recounts the corruption of a boy of strict Calvinist upbringing by a mysterious stranger under whose influence he commits a series of murders. Superbly crafted and deftly executed, Hogg's book resists any easy explanation of events; is this stranger a figment of the imagination or the devil himself? This is the complete edition of Hogg's Confessions, including the engraved frontispiece and the (fictional) dedication, omitted from most editions since its first publication in 1824. Today it still serves as a disturbing insight into the dark heart of the human soul and a scathing critique of the strictures of organised religion.
James Hogg (1770-1835) was born near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. From a young age he was determined to be a poet like Burns. He became friends with Walter Scott and in 1810 he went to Edinburgh to seek a literary career. His most well-known work, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, made little impact when it first appeared (anonymously) in 1824. He continued to publish poetry and prose until his death in 1835.