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  • Author or Editor: Howard Gaskill x
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The appearance of James Macpherson's Ossian in the 1760s caused an international sensation. The discovery of poetic fragments that seemed to have survived in the Highlands of Scotland for some 1500 years gripped the imagination of the reading public, who seized eagerly on the newly available texts for glimpses of a lost primitive world. That Macpherson's versions of the ancient heroic verse were more creative adaptations of the oral tradition than literal translations of a clearly identifiable original may have exercised contemporary antiquarians and contributed eventually to a decline in the popularity of Ossian. Yet for most early readers, as for generations of enthusiastic followers, what mattered was not the accuracy of the translation, but the excitement of encountering the primitive, and the mood engendered by the process of reading. The essays in this collection represent an attempt by late twentieth-century readers to chart the cultural currents that flowed into Macpherson's texts, and to examine their peculiar energy. Scholars distinguished in the fields of Gaelic, German, Irish, Scottish, French, English and American literature, language, history and cultural studies have each contributed to the exploration of Macpherson's achievement, with the aim of situating his notoriously elusive texts in a web of diverse contexts. Important new research into the traditional Gaelic sources is placed side by side with discussions of the more immediate political impetus of his poetry, while studies of the reception of Ossian in Scotland, Germany, France and England are part of the larger recognition of the cultural significance of Macpherson's work, and its importance to issues of fragmentation, liminality, colonialism, national identity, sensibility and gender.
The Reception of Romanticism in the Literature of the GDR
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