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Born Oct. 27, 1736, in Ruthven, Inverness; died Feb. 17, 1796, in Belville, Inverness. Scottish writer.
Macpherson was the son of a farmer. He studied at the University of Edinburgh. In 1760 he edited and anonymously published Fragments of Ancient Poetry Collected in the Highlands of Scotland and Translated From the Gaelic or Erse Language. Encouraged by the success of this publication, Macpherson published two heroic epics, Fingal (1762) and Temora (1763), later combining them with the Fragments into The Works of Ossian, the Son of Fingal, Translated From the Gaelic Language by James Macpherson (1765; partial Russian translation, 1788). A foreword to this edition claims that the author of the Scottish epic poems was the legendary Ossian (third century).
Samuel Johnson soon questioned the authenticity of the Ossianic poems. After Macpherson’s death, his literary hoax was conclusively established. The narrative poems of Macpherson bear the traits of preromanticism, which made them popular with his contemporaries and with European readers of the early 19th century.
WORKSOssian, vols. 1-3. [Published by O. L. Jiriczek.] Heidelberg, 1940.
REFERENCESBalobanova, E. V. [“Issledovanie, perevod i primechaniia.”]
In J. Macpherson, Poemy Ossiana. St. Petersburg, 1890.
Maslov, V. I. Ossian v Rossii: Bibliografiia. Leningrad, 1928. Saunders, T. B. The Life and Letters of J. Macpherson. London, 1894.