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Song Loves the MassesHerder on Music and Nationalism$
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Johann Gottfried Herder and Philip V. Bohlman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520234949

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520234949.001.0001

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The Nation and Its Fragments

The Nation and Its Fragments

Essay on “Briefwechsel über Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker” (1773)

(p.135) 4. The Nation and Its Fragments
Song Loves the Masses

Philip V. Bohlman

University of California Press

The first use of the word and concept, Volkslied (folk song), appears in Herder’s 1773 essay on the Ossian controversy, published in an influential volume of essays containing his own reflections the German character of art and culture, which included contributions by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, among other leading Enlightenment intellectuals. Herder’s Ossian essay gathers fragments from correspondence with an imagined reader, thus allowing him to relate many different themes from eighteenth-century debates about song and poetry, especially the possibilities of translation of ancient myth and epic into modern, national forms. The Ossian poems and songs were published as the evidence of a mythological Scottish bard, but were in fact falsified by the eighteenth-century Scottish writer, James Macpherson.

Keywords:   Ballads, “Edward” ballad, Epistolary writing, Fragments, Invention of tradition, James Macpherson, Ossian, Poesy, Translation

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