'Lost in Words': Macpherson's Ossian, translation, and ballad collection in the eighteenth-century Scottish Gàidhealtachd

Leask, N. (2021) 'Lost in Words': Macpherson's Ossian, translation, and ballad collection in the eighteenth-century Scottish Gàidhealtachd. inTRAlinea Special Issue: Space in Translation,

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Abstract

Ossian scholarship has moved beyond questions of forgery and authenticity to consider the poems’ international influence as a founding text of European Romanticism. Building on recent work in translation studies, this essay considers Ossian as the first substantial attempt to translate Gaelic poetry into English, exploring Macpherson’s relationship to his Gaelic sources, and his rejection of contemporary 18th century anglophone translation codes. Influenced by the theories of Hugh Blair and other members of the Scottish Enlightenment, Macpherson rendered traditional Gaelic heroic ballads in a highly figurative prose poetry, couched in the language of the sublime and the primitive. In conclusion, the essay turns to the posthumously published ‘Gaelic’ Ossian which turns out to be largely a back-translation of the 1760’s ‘English’ text. Yet Macpherson stimulated interest in Gaelic culture at a time of crisis, and his ‘foreignizing’ effect created an influential translation paradigm for Gaelic poetry and culture.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Leask, Professor Nigel
Authors: Leask, N.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:inTRAlinea Special Issue: Space in Translation
Publisher:Universita degli Studi di Bologna
ISSN:1827-000X
ISSN (Online):1827-000X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © inTRAlinea and Nigel Leask (2021)
First Published:First published in inTRAlinea Special Issue: Space in Translation
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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