James Hogg is one of the acknowledged masters of the short story. Some of his best stories appeared in The Shepherd's Calendar, a work of the 1820s in which he sets out to re-create on paper the manner and the content of the traditional oral storytelling of Ettrick Forest, the remote and mountainous sheep-farming district in which he grew up. Like Hogg's masterpiece The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, several of the stories from The Shepherd's Calendar deal disturbingly and hauntingly with the supernatural, and explore psychological depths with a remarkable insight and intensity. The Shepherd's Calendar also draws on Hogg's experiences as a young shepherd in the 1790s as it produces a convincing and very human picture of the dangers, the pleasures, and the tensions of the lives of the rural poor in Scotland in the years that followed the French Revolution. This paperback is based on the acclaimed hardback edition of The Shepherd's Calendar for the Stirling / South Carolina Collected Works of James Hogg (Edinburgh University Press, 1995).
About the Author
The late Douglas S. Mack was formerly Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Stirling.
An important and addictively readable addition to the Scottish canon.
Gin e'er ye wantit 'infinite riches' in a wee buik, James Hogg's 'The Shepherd's Calendar' certes cums gey near the merk.
The reader is not being treated to a quaint display of an outmoded lifestyle, but privileged with glimpses of a community possessed of special knowledge and internal laws. Hogg’s shepherds are far removed from those of Virgil or Spenser, while even Wordsworth’s Michael seems remote from the narrator who can describe the destruction of ‘12 scores of excellent ewes’ with such calmness and compassion: ‘when the snow went away they were discovered all lying dead with their heads one way as if a flock of sheep had dropped dead going from the washing.
The stories are about storms, sheep, lairds, about farmers with designs on their servant girls, as in one of the most memorable, 'Tibby Hyslop’s Dream', where a pious, winsome lass, prophesied over by a second-sighted, 'unco parabolical' great-aunt, copes with such designs - and the farmer in this case comes to one of Hogg’s suicidal ends.
These attractive editions of Hogg's work are set directly from the original texts, and in the case of the Perils of Woman and The Shepherd's Calendar, actually represent the first ever republications of the originals... these paperback reprints further aid the dissemination of Hogg’s best works, creating affordable and accessible editions. Texts previously available only to those with the golden keys of academia can now be bought and enjoyed by a wider readership... the infectiously enthusiastic introduction by Douglas Mack relates the very relevant publication history of this piece, which originally appeared as a series of articles in Blackwood's Magazine…[this] edition represents the first to be set directly from the magazine articles… Now that it has been brought together unbowdlerised for the first time in paperback, we can now see this collection's coherence as a single work, celebrating the vivacity of Hogg's home community.