James Macpherson : Poetical Writting in Literature

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      James Macpherson (1736-1796) was born at Kingussie, in the county of Inverness, and was educated for the Church. He never became a regular minister, for at the age of twenty he was producing bad poetry, and soon after he definitely adopted a literary career. He travelled in the Highlands of Scotland and abroad, settled in London (1766), and meddled in the politics of the time. Then he entered Parliament, realized a hand some fortune, and died in his native county.

The fruits of this were seen in Fingal (1762) and Temora (1763) Macpherson declared that the books were his translations of the poems of an ancient Celtic bard called Ossian. Immediately a violent dispute broke out, many people (including Johnson) alleging that the books were the original compositions of Macpherson himself.
James Macpherson

      After producing some worthless verse in the conventional fashion, in 1760 he issued something very different. It was called Fragments of Ancient Poetry collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and translated from the Gaelic or Erse language. The work received a large share of attention, and a subscription was raised to allow him to travel in the Highlands to glean further specimens of native poetry. The fruits of this were seen in Fingal (1762) and Temora (1763) Macpherson declared that the books were his translations of the poems of an ancient Celtic bard called Ossian. Immediately a violent dispute broke out, many people (including Johnson) alleging that the books were the original compositions of Macpherson himself. The truth is that he gave substance to a large mass of misty Gaelic tradition, and cast the stories into his peculiar prose style.

      The controversy hardly matters to us here. What matters is that the tales deal largely with the romantic adventures of a mythical hero called Fingal. They include striking descriptions of wild nature, and they are cast in a rhythmic and melodious prose that is meant to reproduce the original Gaelic poetical measure. As an essay in the Romantic method these works are of very high value.

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