Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/3244
Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Arts and Humanities legacy departments
Title: The literary development of James Hogg
Authors: MacLachlan, Robin W.
Issue Date: 1977
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: For most twentieth-century readers, the name of James Hogg, if it means anything at all, is inextricably linked with The Confessions of a Justified Sinner, which has been hailed as one of the most important of all Scottish novels. However, this was not always the case: in fact, his considerable reputation ln his own day was won not by The Confessions, which was read by few of his contemporaries, but by his poems, such as The Queen's Wake or The Pilgrims of the Sun, and by songs such as "When the kye comes hame" and "The Skylark" which were the mainstay of many an Edinburgh social gathering, and maintained their popularity throughout the century. However, towards its end, prominent literary critics such as George Saintsbury and Andrew Lang were already giving The Confessions of a Justified Sinner the notice which was to raise it to the position of overwhelming dominance over the rest of Hogg's work which it enjoyed until the past few years. However, the recent publication after many years of absence from print of The Three Perils of Man and The Brownie of Bodsbeck, together with a volume of selected poems and one which reprints some of Hogg's best short stories, and the steady growth in the number of specialised articles on Hogg's work, notably ones by Douglas Gifford, Douglas Mack, and Alexander Scott, suggest that there is need to consider the rest of Hogg's output and the position The Confessions holds in his development. It must seem to many present-day readers that Hogg s wrltlng of The Confessions of a Justified Sinner was little short of miraculous, for to a reader who lacks any idea of the works that led up to it, The Confessions seems a surprlslng work to be produced by a fifty-five year old Border sheep farmer, who was confessedly illiterate until the eighteenth year of his life. Earlier surveys of his career by Edith C Batho and Louis Simpson, while containing much interesting biographical detail and stimulating critical comment, have for the most part failed to discern any pattern in the author's career which can account for his achievement in this novel. The intention behind this thesis is to explain, by describing Hogg's literary development from the days of his illiteracy to the time when he could be treated an an equal by the foremost literary figures of his day, how far Hogg's success in The Confessions was the consequence of his experience in his earlier writing. This study will discuss to what extent the course of Hogg's career was affected by the unusual circumstances of his education, as he tackled in an acute form the problems faced by all writers in finding their own voice when under the influence of powerful literary examples. The study is not meant to be a biography of Hogg, though certainly biographical details are included, and the discussion follows for the most part a chronological path: at all periods of Hogg's life the natural development of his talent came into conflict with the need to earn a living, while his confidence in his powers was frequently drained by the personal insecurity which arose from his unusual background. However, no new facts are presented, the details being taken in the main from Douglas S Mack's careful edition of Hogg's Memoir of the Author's Life, supplemented by some of the information contained in the Hogg letters to be found in the National Library of Scotland. Equally, this discussion is not meant to be an 'exhaustive survey of the sources of Hogg's works: no attempt has been made to identify every influence to which the author was exposed. It is the contention of this thesis that there is a self-evident model, about which the author was seldom secretive, behind each of his more important writings, and that of much greater interest than any list of all. Hogg's sources is the consideration of how he coped with the knowledge that he was following in the footsteps of a predecessor, and how far he succeeded in producing individual work while under those pressures. To that end, I have concentrated on the extent to which each of his most important poems and each of his longer stories is a consistent and coherent whole. This has involved me 1n a discussion of the form and content of each of these works in an attempt to establish whether the author has realised his intentions in it without being deflected by external pressures. A final chapter discusses the pieces he wrote for the less formal context of the literary magazines of his day and seeks to determine the value of these miscellaneous works, to which he devoted most of his attention in the last years of his life. Several other more peripheral discussions have been rendered necessary only because of the incomplete nature of Scottish Literature studies at the present time, when so much groundwork must be done before one can begin to concentrate on more specific subjects.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/3244
Affiliation: English Studies
Department of English Studies

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