Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Monday, 17 February 2014

Charlatan or Creative Artist? James Macpherson died 17 February 1796

James Macpherson, the poet of Ossian

On this day in 1796, James Macpherson died.  He has been derided as a charlatan on account of  his 'Ossian' poetry collections.  But is this right?  'Charlatan' is a loaded, critical term.  Was he economical with the truth as far as the sources of his material were concerned?  From a modern vantage point, Macpherson's main failing was a lack of transparency: he failed to explain satsifactorily just what he had done with his 'translations'.  

Certainly, his poetry attracted a huge following - anyone that was anybody bought his books!

Read our earlier posting.

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