Brownie of Bodsbeck and Other Tales
The Brownie of Bodsbeck and Other Tales (1818) consists of an introductory poem, a short novel, and two stories. Hogg shapes this collection in ways that allow him to explore the life of his native district of Ettrick Forest during different historical periods. 'The Hunt of Eildon', a story set in the late Middle Ages, draws on Ettrick's medieval role as royal hunting forest, and on the district's rich traditional culture of oral story-telling and the supernatural. In contrast, 'The Wool-Gatherer' is set in Hogg's own time, and is a love-story complicated by issues concerning wealth and social class. The cornerstone of the collection, however, is the short novel 'The Brownie of Bodsbeck, set during the civil and religious conflicts of the late seventeenth century. Here, as in Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), Hogg writes with power and insight as he explores the effects of extreme psychological stress. The Brownie is also remarkable for the innovative ways in which it locates narrative authority, not with members of the officer class, but in the voices of the ordinary people of Ettrick. Taken as a whole, The Brownie of Bodsbeck and Other Tales is one of Hogg's major achievements. It is here published as a complete collection for the first time since 1818.