Thursday, September 16, 2010


I have just finished James Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner which I found on the bookshelf at home in JB which I was attempting to put in some semblance of order. I'd never heard of the book but the title intrigued me. It's eaten through by silverfish and towards the end I had to guess at the words, so full of holes were the pages.

The story is like a vicious nightmare that startles you awake; and your heart is racing and as you lie bathed in your own sweat, the images fade and you can't quite remember what so filled you with horror.


Like that.

Andre Gide, who wrote the introduction and reintroduced this book to public notice in the 1920s (it was first published in 1824) was delighted with it. The fanatic and the devil, walking arm in arm, justfying the blackest crimes.

And yet, I felt sorry for the protagonist. He seemed to be weak rather than utterly bad. He was jealous of anyone held in greater esteem, cast off by his father (?) as his wife's bastard, brought up by a pious hypocrite. And the most dreadful thing about it was his description of the devil who dogged his footsteps.

The "friend" that he grew to dread, who always left him feeling horrible, who could argue away any doubt, and who undoubtedly held sway over this weak young man, flattering him, frightening him, pushing him to extremes.

So, you know the devil not by his words but by his effects.

I recognised this.

I recognised the effects.

I remembered.

But I was lucky. Some grace, heretofore unsuspected, raised its head and delivered me.

So let me sit here for a while and count my blessings.

Later for you.

Good night.

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