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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

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Ossian [James Macpherson]


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Ossian [James Macpherson] : Poems

Robert Southey to John May, 26 June, 1797: '...the French never can have a good epic poem till they have republicanized their language; it appears to me a thing impossible in their metres; & for the prose of Fenelon Florian & Bitaubè — I find it peculiarly unpleasant. I have sometimes read the works of Florian aloud; his stories are very interesting & well conducted, but in reading them I have been felt obliged to simplify as I read & omit most of the similes & apostrophes. they disgusted me & I felt ashamed to pronounce them. Ossian is the only book bearable in this stile, there is a melancholy obscurity in the history of Ossian & of almost his heroes that must please — ninety nine readers in an hundred cannot understand Ossian & therefore they like the book. I read it always with renewed pleasure.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Robert Southey      Print: Book


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