Ossian (/ˈɒʃən, ˈɒsiən/; Irish Gaelic/Scottish Gaelic: Oisean) is the narrator and purported author of a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson from 1760. Macpherson claimed to have collected word-of-mouth material in Scottish Gaelic, said to be from ancient sources, and that the work was his translation of that material. Ossian is based on Oisín, son of Finn or Fionn mac Cumhaill, anglicised to Finn McCool, a legendary bard who is a character in Irish mythology. Contemporary critics were divided in their view of the work's authenticity, but the consensus since is that Macpherson framed the poems himself, based on old folk tales he had collected. The work was internationally popular, translated into all the literary languages of Europe and was highly influential both in the development of the Romantic movement and the Gaelic revival. "The contest over the authenticity of Macpherson's pseudo-Gaelic productions," Curley asserts, "became a seismograph of the fragile unity within restive diversity of imperial Great Britain in the age of Johnson." Macpherson's fame was crowned by his burial among the literary giants in Westminster Abbey. W.P. Ker, in the Cambridge History of English Literature, observes that "all Macpherson's craft as a philological impostor would have been nothing without his literary skill."
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