This article recognizes the accomplishment of the editors of the Stirling/South Carolina Edition of James Hogg and reflects on the long literary eclipse that followed Hogg's death in 1835. Hogg was both the inventor and prime nineteenth-century practitioner of what could be called (on the model of polyglossia) polydoxy, which stages the intersection of profoundly disjunctive belief systems within a single piece of fiction. He produced texts with central mysteries that seem to court a variety of explanations but finally resist the triumph of any one explanatory schema over its alternatives. In Hogg's fiction, divergence in belief does not solely or inevitably occur at the level of speech itself, but may also be found at the level of incident, plot, character, or motive—in the question of what makes a given occurrence into a “story” at all.
Hogg strives for a sort of epistemological degree zero, where various possible explanations hang in equipoise with one another. Stories accordingly often end with some seemingly unrelated detail that serves to embed the entire tale within in a universe where stories, poems, and inscriptions, each equally unlikely, are forced to compete for the same scarce conversational space. The stark battle lines that, during the heyday of the Edinburgh literary scene, characterized journal divisions, political ones, even questions of linguistic fidelity to the Scots dialect may well have been what taught Hogg to conceptualize fiction as a site where profoundly divergent worldviews are suspended next to one another.