Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781590170250
Pages: 272
Publication Date: November 30, 2002

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

by James Hogg, introduction by Margot Livesey


The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner is a startling tale of murder and madness set in a time of troubles like our own. Robert Wringhim is a religious fanatic: one of God’s chosen who believes himself free to disregard the strictures of morality—a view in which he is much encouraged by the elusive, peculiarly striking foreigner who becomes his dearest friend. Describing the seductive mutual dependence of these soulmates and the way—efficient at first, then increasingly intoxicated—they go about settling scores with their (and of course God’s) enemies, James Hogg presents a powerful picture of evil in the world and in the heart and mind. This work of black humor, acute psychological insight, and, in the end, deeply compassionate humanity is one of the masterpieces of literature in English. by James Hogg, introduction by Margot Livesey


This book has been haunting me since student days. It has been an influence on Scottish literature and certainly on my own Inspector Rebus stories....Very little is what it seems in this complex novel....A psychological horror story, this also works as a novel of stalking, grooming, and serial killing.
— Ian Rankin, The Daily Beast

James Hogg's great novel is set in eighteenth-century Edinburgh, a city of night and shadow, of lurking eavesdroppers and invisible pursuers, of gloomy wynds and crepuscular crannies. The novel splits and doubles itself, its themes, and its characters: two texts, one following the other, are written from two different points of view; narrating the same terrible story, they contradict each other here and there, forming an asymmetrical diptych, all the more compelling for its discordancy and conflicts.
— Marina Warner

A work so moving, so funny, so impassioned, so exact and so mysterious, that its emergence from a long history of neglect came as a surprise which has yet to lose its resonance.
— Karl Miller, The Times Literary Supplement

Neglected at first, this brilliant short novel has climbed in the esteem of readers until it is now regarded as one of the glories of English literature—or, for those who like to subdivide these matters, of Scottish literature.
— John Wain