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Who Wrote That?Authorship Controversies from Moses to Sholokhov$
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Donald Ostrowski

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749704

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749704.001.0001

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How Inauthentic was James Macpherson’s “Translation” of Ossian?

How Inauthentic was James Macpherson’s “Translation” of Ossian?

(p.190) Chapter 8 How Inauthentic was James Macpherson’s “Translation” of Ossian?
Who Wrote That?
Donald Ostrowski
Cornell University Press

This chapter talks about the Scottish poet James Macpherson. It analyzes Macpherson's publication of the “Fragments of Ancient Poetry Collected in the Highlands of Scotland,” which he claimed was his own translation into English from old Gaelic manuscripts he discovered in the Scottish Highlands. It also looks into “Fingal,” an Ancient Epic Poem or cycle of poetry presumably sung by the legendary Scottish bard Ossian, which Macpherson also claimed was a translation from the Gaelic. The chapter examines the Ossian cycle that stimulated investigations and searches for ethnic folk literature, particularly for national epics throughout Europe and Russia that represented the mystical spirit of the nation. It looks into skeptics, such as Samuel Johnson, David Hume, and Horace Walpole who expressed doubt about the authenticity of Macpherson's translations.

Keywords:   James Macpherson, old Gaelic manuscripts, Scottish Highlands, Fingal, Ossian, ethnic folk literature

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