Mudcat Café message #4031028 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #167167   Message #4031028
Posted By: GUEST,An Buachaill Caol Dubh
29-Jan-20 - 02:59 PM
Thread Name: the literary controversy over Ossian
Subject: RE: the literary controversy over Ossian
On seeing this title & the start of the thread I immediately thought of DS Thomson (Ruari MacTomas), and of course his work has been adduced above. It's a sign of the arrogant ignorance of the public school breed that infest the "teaching" staff of the Arts Faculties in so many North British universities that, even in the 1980s I was confidently "taught" that MacPherson's translations were entirely fabricated. Even as an undergraduate I knew of the Fenian Cycle and, crucially, had heard a recording made by the Irish Folklore Commission (I think) of one such tale recited, in a manner declamatory rather than lyrical, by ?Joseph Heaney. Not long after hearing some braying lecturer confidently spouting his anti-Scottish errors, I read much of the works of Dryden, including how the rendering of one text into another language was understood in the generation before MacPherson (Dryden died 1700). If anyone be interested, check the distinctions among "paraphrase", "metaphrase", Imitation and free translation. M. took the kind of liberties with his sources, or inspiration, that other poets, versifiers and other writers have done before and since. Their works did not meet with the negative response that his did, at least in England and among the North Britons of Scotland. Wonder why?

Of course, that's not to claim that J. M. himself wasn't a bit of a chancer; he certainly made more money out of his versions, expansions, imitations and inventions than many other more original and better poets have.