History: E457_Hogg

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Assigned: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. (Separate text; see below.)

The Editor's Narrative (1-93)

1. From 1-20, the editor recounts the circumstances leading up to the birth of George Colwan and Robert Wringhim. Briefly, what marital disaster goes into the generation of these two opposites? What principles are at work in the raising of the two brothers, respectively?

2. From 21-35, Robert taunts his brother George in a couple of tennis matches and then at a cricket game. What has already been suggested (around pg. 18) as a motive for this strange behavior? Does it seem sufficient? What seems to be Robert's strategy during these bizarre episodes?

3. From 36-47, George sees a dreadful apparition on a misty hillside, only to find that, yet again, it is Robert. What happens between the two of them, and what fear begins to take hold of George Colwan about the nature of his brother's comportment towards him?

4. From 51-56, George Colwan is discovered dead. Early evidence points towards Thomas Drummond as the murderer, but Mrs. Logan soon hears from accused robber Bell Calvert a very different account of George's death. From 70-78, what are the essentials of that account? What role does the supernatural (or at least Bell's surmises about its presence) play in the whole affair?

5. From 80-92, what further supernatural cast do events take on when Mrs. Logan and Bell Calvert go in search of George Colwan's killer? Do you find this cast believable, or does it seem to be the result of excitement and terror on the part of Bell and Mrs. Logan? What do you make of the "extraordinary being" who is said to accompany Robert Wringhim immediately before and during his encounter with the two women?

Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Sinner, Written by Himself (97-240)

6. From 97-114, how does Robert Wringham explain the early influences on his character? With what ideas did the Reverend Wringhim fill his mind, and how did they affect the boy in both thought and deed?

7. From 114-41, Robert meets the being who calls himself Gil-Martin and is led to commit his first murder. Describe the method by which Gil-Martin succeeds in influencing Robert and getting him to commit this crime.

8. From 145-172, Robert is spurred on by Gil-Martin to destroy his brother. What fundamental doubt does Robert keep voicing, and how does Gil-Martin help him overcome that doubt?

9. From 173-240, in the wake of Robert's brother's death, what role does Gil-Martin take on – how does he manipulate events, and to what end? To what extent does the narrative suggest that Gil-Martin is a real being? To what extent does it cast doubt on that hypothesis?

The Editor's Narrative (240-55)

10. From 240-55, how does this brief narrative (including a letter by none other than author James Hogg) affect your understanding of the accounts that have gone before it? Are we to believe in the existence of the devilish Gil-Martin? Should we accept Robert Wringhim's account of his dreadful acts, or the editor's account in the first section, or neither?

Edition: Hogg, James. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. ISBN: 0192835904.


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