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Macpherson, James.

Macpherson, James

(1736 - 1796) Scottish poet, writer, and literary forger. In 1760 Macpherson published Fragments of Ancient Poetry Collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and Translated from the Gallic or Erse Language. Shortly thereafter, he published first Fingal, An Ancient Epic (1761) and then Temora, An Epic Poem (1763), purportedly translations from the Gaelic of the 3rd-century bardic hero Ossian. The Ossianic poems -- in actuality, a literary hoax -- aroused a great deal of interest, the author collecting funds from a number of well - known literary figures, such as John Home and Hugh Blair, to make a tour through the Highlands in search of epic material. The London critics, especially Samuel Johnson, soon became suspicious, however, and Macpherson failed to make further Ossianic

" discoveries. " After his death, investigation revealed that Macpherson had liberally edited traditional Gaelic poems and added passages of his own. These pseudo - Gaelic poems are written in poetic prose marked by rhapsodic descriptions of nature and an atmosphere of vague mystery and melancholy. Although critics do not now consider them to be of much literary value, they had an important influence on the development of romanticism in France and Germany.

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1987
Previous Article:McPhee, John A(ngus).
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