James Hogg (1770-1835) was a Scottish poet and novelist. Born on a farm near Ettrick, in his youth Hogg was a farmhand and shepherd before taking up writing. He was a friend of Sir Walter Scott, and best known for THE PRIVATE CONFESSIONS OF A JUSTIFIED SINNER as well as his long poem THE QUEEN'S WAKE.
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinnerby James Hogg
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The story follows a young man who encounters a shape-shifting devil in Scotland, with sundry misadventures and misfortunes following.
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We the Humans need some indispensable, basic things simply for living a normal life. These are food, drink, home, sex, love, work, distractions¿ and perhaps religion, or beliefs in something transcendental, as you want to say. The problem begins when we abuse or misuse some of these things because you go surely to become ill. This is the case in this book: in the XIX century Robert, a Scottish man is a Calvinist, well, in Spain usually we are Catholics and excessive zeal in this sense currently is thought has contributed to material Spanish decay from three hundred years. In the case of the protagonist of this novel he also has gone too far in his beliefs. Calvinism promises he¿s predestinated to save or condemn his soul no matter what he does. This is for me a strange doctrine but perhaps no more than obsessive prohibitions about sex in Catholicism. Of course, the real problem with Robert is he previously hasn¿t a normal mind, and his religion and his hostile superstitious family goes to press him too much and provoke a terrible disease in his brain, or his soul, so it begins to commit horrible murders and crimes, but he thinks he¿s justified to do these, and that he does well as he writes in his private diary found later, because a strange unknown friend has said to him he must kill, and he has to save his soul. James Hogg had in this sense an extraordinary ability for detecting the insanity much before modern Psychiatry, because all this history I think admits a pure rational explanation, the peasant being a madman, and his vision, an hallucination detonated by his Calvinism. Probably today he should be given the diagnostic of a schizofrenia. In Spain Robert should have seen a Virgin, or in Japan who knows what and perhaps the final results should be the same, it has happened in all countries. How many saints and murders have a balanced mind? We don¿t know. Well, the conclusion for me is not only cholesterol, cigarettes or whisky are bad for your health.