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Ossian Online is a project to publish the various editions of the sequence of eighteenth-century works known collectively as the Ossian poems. Initially presented by Scottish writer James Macpherson as fragments of original manuscripts he had found on journeys around the Highlands of Scotland, the Ossian poems grew into a body of work that inspired readers, courted controversy, and profoundly influenced the literature of the Romantic period. The first phase of Ossian Online will see the publication of TEI-encoded texts of the major editions published between 1760 and 1773. Subsequent phases will present a new critical edition and launch a tool for collaborative annotation of the texts.
Fragments of Ancient Poetry
Published in two editions in 1760, Fragments was a short octavo volume which announced Macpherson's intention to recover and publish the “genuine remains of ancient Scottish poetry."
Representing a development and expansion of portions of Fragments, editions of Fingal were published in December 1761 and January 1762. The title pages of both are dated 1762.
Like Fingal, an expensive quarto volume was the format in which Temora was published in March 1763. It also contained expanded versions of certain poems from Fragments.
Works of Ossian
A two-volume octavo edition published in 1765, The Works of Ossian combined the poems from Fingal and Temora into a single edition. The poems underwent in excess of four hundred textual revisions, and were supplemented by Hugh Blair's important 'Critical Dissertation.'
Poems of Ossian
The final edition overseen by Macpherson, The Poems of Ossian of 1773 follows the content of Works, but rearranges the poems in order of time. In addition, the text is subject to quite significant revision.