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: Set in early eighteenth-century Scotland, "The Private Confessions of a Justified Sinner" recounts the corruption of a boy of strict Calvinist parentage by a mysterious stranger under whose influence he commits a series of murders. The stranger assures the boy that no sin can affect the salvation of an elect person. The reader, while recognizing the stranger as Satan, is prevented by the subtlety of the structure of "The Private Confessions of a Justified Sinner" from finally deciding whether, for all his vividness and wit, he is more than a figment of the boy's imagination. "The Private Confessions of a Justified Sinner" was really about 150 years ahead of its time. Published in 1824, it has everything readers of post-modern novels could ask for, including clustered narratives, self-reflexive point-of-view, unreliable narrators, and an unsympathetic-protagonist. Hogg is engaging in a highly playful exercise, yet at the same time "The Private Confessions of a Justified Sinner" can be read as an entirely chilling depiction of what may happen to the human psyche when it is given absolutely free-reign. Everything about "The Private Confessions of a Justified Sinner" works" The comic characters are wonderfully depicted (including Hogg himself, who puts in an appearance as an unhelpful clod who's too busy observing sheep at a local fair to assist the editor and his party when they want to dig up Wingham's grave). Wingham's descent into fanaticism and his subsequent psychological disintegration is handled as well as it possibly could be. It is also a perfectly drawn cautionary tale about the pitfalls of antinomian religious beliefs.