Samuel Johnson and Ossian, Cambridge University Press, 2009

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Spring 2009

Project Description/Abstract

I am applying for a CART Small Grant to fund the indexing of my book, and for transportation to UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library to research a paper for the Samuel Johnson Symposium at Harvard University. I wanted to cap my long career at BSC, before my retirement, by seeing in print my book, Samuel Johnson, the Ossian Fraud, and the Celtic Revival in Great Britain and Ireland (April 2009), which was ten years in preparation and is now under contract with Cambridge University Press, the most prestigious publisher of English studies today. The indexing is essential for the project, and my book-cover blurb sums up its importance:

“James Macpherson’s famous hoax, publishing his own poems as the writings of the ancient Scots bard Ossian in the 1760s, remains fascinating to scholars as the most successful literary fraud in history. This study presents the decisive expose of his deception, by looking at the controversy from the point of view of Samuel Johnson, England’s greatest moralist and the most fascinating personality in English literature. Johnson’s dispute with Macpherson was an argument with wide implications not only for literature, but for the emerging national identities of the British nations during the Celtic Revival. Thomas M. Curley offers a wealth of genuinely new information, detailing as never before Johnson’s involvement in the Ossian controversy, his insistence on truth-telling, and his interaction with others in the debate. The appendix reproduces a rare pamphlet against Ossian written with the assistance of Johnson himself. This book will be an important addition to knowledge about Johnson and the long-debated Ossian controversy. Thomas M. Curley is Professor of English at Bridgewater State College, Massachusetts. He is the author of several books and articles on English literature, most notably Sir Robert Chambers: Law, Literature and Empire in the Age of Johnson (1998), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.”

Connected with my request for funding the book’s index is my need for financial assistance to research both an article and a paper on Johnson and America at a major archive, UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, during spring break. Professor Jack Lynch, editor of The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, has invited me to contribute the article to a scholarly collection, entitled Samuel Johnson in Context, to be published by Cambridge University Press. I shall also proudly represent my college by delivering next August, by personal invitation only, an address on the same subject of Johnson and America at the international Harvard Symposium celebrating the tercentenary of his birth.

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