Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ossian, Son of Fingal: Romantic Literary Hoax?

Probably only known to hardcore literature buffs in this day and age, did the translation of a 3rd Century Gaelic bard's work to Modern English literally started the European Romantic Movement?

By: Ringo Bones

Literary hoaxes plaguing the European literary scene is by no means a recent 21st Century phenomena like the Axolotl Roadkill debacle. As far back as 1760, a collection of moody prose-poems full of romantic descriptions of wild Highland scenery appeared under the title: "Fragments of Ancient Poetry, collected in the Highlands of Scotland and translated from the Gaelic or Erse Language".

James Macpherson, who claimed to be the translator of these works by a 3rd Century Gaelic bard named Ossian, is known to have been, in fact, the author of the poems. At that time however, a number of critics considered them genuine translations. Of more importance than the "forgery" is the fact the poems created a sensation in Europe and gave impetus to the Romantic Movement. Lord of the Rings trilogy in poetic form?


  1. If there ever was ever a real Highland Scottish person that was the basis of the Ossian, son of Fingal character - is he related to Madison Scott?

  2. I also wonder if my "ancient" ancestors came from the same Scottish Highland clan as Ossian son of Fingal.