Mudcat Café message #4034861 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #167167   Message #4034861
Posted By: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
18-Feb-20 - 03:31 PM
Thread Name: the literary controversy over Ossian
Subject: RE: the literary controversy over Ossian
So, let's get this right; it's incontestable that JM had a significant impact. His works were regarded as "translations" from Irish. They were greatly admired by some, and in addition to the operatic arie or lieder or orchestral pieces cited much earlier it's known that Napoleon always had an Italian translation (?Cesarotti) with him. Others were concerned to brand JM an impostor and worse in a way that seems more sustained and determined than contemporary views of Translation(s) would justify.

In my own view, something should be made of how genuine is a response to any work of human artifice. That is, if a painting has long been admired as one of the most beautiful works by an Old Master, and then turns out incontestably to be a later copy, well, while the attribution will change, surely the admiration will not - if it were caused by the quality of the work itself. Actually, it's becoming easier to make fakes of paintings from some periods, since Art Historians are more concerned with "provenance" than tasteful in assessing a work ('nuff sed). So, for people adversely to judge the Ossianic material set forth by JM once it becomes clear that a lot of it isn't ancient, "unmediated" verses and tales but his own Translation - context, remember - is for them to reveal a proud condescension, an arrogance even, of which they remain so amusingly unaware. In short,"We'll admire stuff of negligible real quality just as long as it's old", rather than have the enthusiasm of many readers in the eighteenth century and later for the spirit they found in these works when approached "sympathetically"(C18th). The case of JM also involves the fact that he was a writer in a colonised country, at a time when the concern of the British State was to exterminate that which was distinctive about North Britain; not so much effort required now. And, again, the issue of confidence occurs; France is rightly proud of the Heroic tales of Ancient Times disseminated by Goscinny and Uderzo, but then France is a country and nation and there's not any "Gallic Cringe".