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Special Collections and Digital Initiatives 11.19.2019

Image of frontispiece for The Poems of Ossian

The latest addition to our collection of literary odds and ends is a curious collection of poems by a fictional poet name Ossian. Originally published in 1760 (our edition hails from 1856) The Poems of Ossian is a collection of poems and prose by Scottish author James Macpherson, who claimed he'd collected purportedly lost ancient Gaelic poems written by fictional epic poet Ossian. There is some debate as to whether Macpherson really did translate and derive poetry from a 3rd century CE Gaelic poet, or if he fabricated the whole tome as a way to differentiate his work from those of his contemporaries while possibly selling more books. Whatever the case, these poems are a lyrical delight and despite the controversy, the suspension of disbelief continued on in almost every published edition since the first. To boot, our 1856 edition features fanciful line illustrations by a little known French artist who we could only identify as "H. Dacre." As a bonus, the plates in this book will be featured in our upcoming Special Collections Coloring Book!  

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