The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner was published by the Scottish author James Hogg in 1824. Considered in turn a Gothic novel, a psychological case study of an unreliable narrator, and an examination of totalitarian thought, the ultimately unclassifiable novel, set in a pseudo-Christian world of angels, devils, and demonic possession, is on the rise in academic circles. It has received wide acclaim for its probing quest into the nature of religious fanaticism and Calvinist predestination.

On the surface, this novel is a simple tale of a young man who encounters a shape-shifting devil, an early manifestation of a doppelganger, and the various misadventures that follow. The devilish figure, known only to the reader and Robert Wringham himself as "Gil-Martin," appears to Robert after being told that he is one of the Elect, a group of people predestined for salvation. Based on this assumption, Wringham is coerced by Gil-Martin into murders and other crimes.

The novel's use of conflicting accounts of events as well as the questioning of a single truth about historical events or a single rational world view has led some critics to see it as anticipating ideas associated with postmodernism. The first person narrative of Robert Wringhim, which comprises the middle section of the novel, is purported to be a manuscript found in the grave of a suicide's remains. This narrative is preceded by a "Editor's Narrative," a factual description of folklore and local tradition. The final section of the novel describes the exhumation of the suicide's remains and the discovery of the manuscript. The various narratives offer contradictory explanations for the events of the novel, which primarily revolve around the murder of Robert's estranged brother, George Colwan. Each progressive narrative reveals more about the story of the murder and the circumstances surrounding it.

The novel has been cited as an inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which examines the duality of good and evil.

Eve Sedgwick, in her book Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, views Robert Wringham's character as failing to successfully negotiate the demands of the configuration of male homosocial desire existing in his society by being too manifest in his desire for other men.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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