Edited By Susanne M. Cadera and Andrew Samuel Walsh
8 Ossian and Werther in Spain (Arturo Peral Santamaría)
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ARTURO PERAL SANTAMARÍA
8 Ossian and Werther in Spain
Scholars have considered Ossian’s reception in Spain to have been very superficial, as his influence was only detectable in some authors and his impact on Spanish Romanticism was very limited. This might be true in terms of direct reception, but thanks to the presence of Ossianic fragments in the novel Die Leiden des Jungen Werther [The Sorrows of Young Werther] by Goethe, which has been very popular since the nineteenth century to the present, the images and themes published by Macpherson have had a surprisingly intense presence in different cultural manifestations. In this chapter, we aim to observe the Wertherian indirect reception of Ossian in Spain through translations, the press and music.
Ossian and his direct influence in Spain
Between 1760 and 1763, a young man called James Macpherson (1736–1796) published several volumes of poetry that shocked Pre-Romantic Europe. This Scottish author claimed to have found Gaelic compositions by a third-century bard called Ossian and that the works he was offering the world were nothing but translations of these poems. The ensuing controversy was assured: some considered them authentic, which would demonstrate that the ancient inhabitants of Northern Europe were capable of producing art that was just as complex and sophisticated as the better known civilizations of Southern Europe. Others, on the contrary, considered the poems to be a very elaborate hoax. The poems became...
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