James Hogg knew Sir Walter Scott well, and after Scott's death in 1832 he wrote an affectionate but frank account of their long friendship. Hogg arranged for his manuscript to be sent to John Gibson Lockhart, Scott's son-in-law and official biographer; but when Lockhart read the manuscript he declared himself to be filled with 'utter disgust and loathing' at the 'beastly and abominable things' he found it to contain. As a result, Hogg withdrew the manuscript from publication, but later arranged for the US publication of an extensively revised version, Familiar Anecdotes of Sir Walter Scott. Professor Rubenstein has produced a meticulous new edition which includes both the first version, Anecdotes of Sir W. Scott and the later version. She provides a wealth of new information about these lively, readable, idiosyncratic, and disconcerting texts.
About the Author
This is not an account of Scott but of Scott's relationship with Hogg or, perhaps more accurately, of Hogg's relationship with Scott. What makes it in the end fascinating and compelling reading is that Hogg does not present us with a balanced and distanced account of someone else's life but rather opens up to us a particularly interesting relationship between two people, a relationship which attracts our attention because, like real-life relationships, it is not without its ups and downs, its tensions and disturbances ... This edition presents two rather different versions of Hogg's anecdotes of Scott ... These two texts are expertly edited and fully and helpfully annotated by Jill Rubenstein while Douglas Mack has provided an authoritative history of the genesis of the text with very full quotation from the relevant correspondence. Jill Rubenstein's excellent introduction to these texts provides us, amongst other things, with a balanced and perceptive account of the two writers' complex relationship, avoiding the temptation to redress the errors of his own time by presenting Hogg merely as the victim of Scott's snobbery and recognising instead that Scott's attitude to Hogg was ambivalent ... There is a lot more that could be said of these fascinating and complex texts ... we have not before had the two manuscript versions brought together in one volume. We can now compare within the one volume the subtle but significant variations between the two original manuscripts of what Jill Rubenstein has rightly called, for all the complexities of Hogg's attitude to his subject, 'the tribute of one remarkable man to another, both flawed and both admirable, living in a remarkable time.'
On the evidence [of this volume] Hogg is a writer of enormous versatility, ambition and literary accomplishments whose work ought to feature on every Romantic syllabus. The editors of SSC are making this possible for the first time - Romanticists should seize the opportunity.
The impression given by the edition as a whole [is] that the editorial task has been undertaken with a peculiar degree of commitment and with a determination that a long-postponed duty towards James Hogg will now be undertaken with a thoroughness which should stand the test of time.