Powerful Essays

"In spite of its representation of potentially diabolical and satanic powers, its historical and geographic location and its satire on extreme Calvinism, James Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a
Justified Sinner proves to be a novel that a dramatises a crisis of identity, a theme which is very much a Romantic concern." Discuss.

Examination of Romantic texts provides us with only a limited and much debated degree of commonality. However despite the disparity of
Romanticism (or Romanticisms) as a movement it would be true to say that a prevalent aspect of Romantic literature that unites many different forms of the movement, is a concern with the divided self.

As the empirical Rationalism of the eighteenth century was partially subverted by the subjective metaphysical reflection in the nineteenth artists tended to examine wider issues from an introspective starting point. The idea of the divided self became a motif from Blake's
"Albion" to Byron's Manfred to Keat's musings on the disassociated nature of the Poetic Self. Some writers personified this division in distinct physical manifestations, usually a hero and his inverse doppelganger. Most famously in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the various "selves" in De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater and in the complex mirroring of major characters in James Hogg's ambiguous masterpiece Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified

Although critics (as Andrea Henderson in Romantic Identities) have debated the extent that Romanticism dramatises divisive crises with the psychological self , the vast majority of writing on the subject agrees that "crisis of identity" is certainly a "Romantic concern".
Hugo Donelley draws attention to the "Modernis...

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... Doubleness of Hogg's Confessions and the Tradition", Studies in Scottish Literature, Vol. 18, pp.

Punter, D. "The dialectic of persecution" in The Literature of Terror
Volume I, 1996, Longman Group (David Punter), London and New York.

Simpson, L. James Hogg, a Critical Study, 1962, Oliver and Boyd,

Wittig, Kurt. The Scottish Tradition in Literature, 1958, Oliver and
Boyd, Edinburgh.

Wu, Duncan. "Introduction" in Romanticism: An Anthology


Incorvati, R. "Dialogue and Marginality in James Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner." Prometheus Unplugged Website.


[1] Although Hogg was writing in a pre-Freudian era the essentials of his psychodynamic theory were as pertinent in 1834 as they were in
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