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Divining NatureAesthetics of Enchantment in Enlightenment France$
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Tili Boon Cuillé

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781503613362

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503613362.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

The Poetics of Nature in Ossian and Staël

The Poetics of Nature in Ossian and Staël

(p.197) Chapter Four The Poetics of Nature in Ossian and Staël
Divining Nature

Tili Boon Cuillé

Stanford University Press

France’s frame of reference shifted northward when James Macpherson went in search of the Scots national epic, returning with poems attributed to the third-century bard Ossian. Though denounced as a hoax, Macpherson’s reconstruction of a lost epic from surviving fragments has since been compared to scientific endeavors such as geology and cartography. Chapter 4 explores Macpherson’s use of similes interrelating the natural and the spiritual realms and the relationship between melancholy and memory in the epics before turning to their favorable French reception. Both Napoleon and Germaine de Staël embraced France’s northern heritage, hailing Ossian as the new Homer. Privileging northern melancholy over southern enthusiasm, Staël looked to the philosophical poetry of the north as the source of French spiritual regeneration. Ironically, anxieties about the epics’ authenticity led to the establishment of the Académie Celtique and the science of folklore.

Keywords:   Macpherson, Ossian, Staël, Napoleon, Académie Celtique, painting, opera, eloquence, melancholy, memory

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