Friday, November 20, 2009

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justifed Sinner - post I

This book was kindly sent to me with an accompanying note describing it as one of the most important works in literature. I have to start this post by confessing no previous reading of this book but within a very short number of paragraphs you are under Hoggs’s spell of great writing but also a wonderful imagination.

What amazes you about the book is the time this story of angels, devils and demons was written. This would have been put together when presumably to write some of the things about good and evil was sailing very close to the wind. Not just because the readership would have been a lot more devout and would recognise a world where demons existed but also because the church, which held more power in the early 1800s, was not a lame target to aim for.

In a book of two parts, The Editor’s Narrative then the Confessions, it makes sense to split the reading into two parts.

The Editor’s Narrative sets up a story of two brothers brought up in different households with very different spiritual values.

The Wringhim brothers, George and Robert, are on the one hand a non-religious man into leisure and self-satisfaction and the other as a result of growing up under the director mentorship of a very religious man comes out as some sort of pseudo-monk come evangelical.

He sets his heart at destroying his brother’s world and starts innocently enough but ends with murder. Quite why he does all these actions is not quite clear but you suspect the influence of devilry.

A world of wealth and religious piety is painted so clearly by Hogg that you can walk round the world he paints with great ease. Although the idea of devils and angels might seem slightly alien to a modern readership you are never in any doubt about the belief held by Robert or those around him.

More tomorrow...

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