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Myths and Legends
Ossian: Fact or Fiction

The debate has raged on in the centuries since. Many scholars have studied these texts, and the general theory is that McPherson did indeed fake his “original” texts, but that contrary to his opponent’s opinion, the works were of literary value. He was seen less as a great fraud, and more as an opportunist who used the rising popularity of all things Scottish to release a work of his own creation.

Even if there was no historical basis for the works of Ossian, if he introduced people to ancient warrior tales that had doubtless inspired him, he had done a great thing for traditional literature from this land.

James MacPherson
© SCRAN
While Samuel Johnson’s ‘Journeys’ had allowed the world to discover so much about life in the Highlands in the 18th Century, MacPherson had introduced many people to a much older part of Scottish tradition. Faker or opportunist, he has reserved his place amongst his country’s literary greats. And in a twist his supporters always enjoy, upon his death MacPherson was buried in Westminster Abbey yards away from his biggest critic, Samuel Johnson.


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