ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7 Blesok no. 53 | volume X | March-April, 2007
Blesok no. 53,
The Harmony of Duality
"Gatherers and Hunters", selected stories by Thomas Shapcott, Blesok, 2006
As every good presenter of somebody else's work, I would like to start with myself. Some time ago, I was asked if I preferred (writing) poetry or prose?
This question, a seemingly usual, prosaic one, opens a deeper dilemma that touches the very essence of the human nature: when we speak of “two” (or more) inside us, do we speak of duality or division? Or, in the first case, do we speak of the “two” inside us as parallel, simultaneous, even harmonious (co)existence of two halves in one whole? Or, in the second case, do we speak of separateness, opposition, even collision, mutual exclusion of the two?
Starting from the direct occasion for this text, the selected short stories by Thomas Shapcott, I would like to present the dilemma of the duality and division via a classical, almost Saussure-like triangle typical of the literary (or more precisely, prose) work: the one made by the author/creator, the story that he/she tells, and the narration (the way in which he/she tells the story), as the third point closing the triangle.
Let me start with the author: It seems that Thomas Shapcott, the accountant with the face of an Australian farmer who has turned a poet who also wrote prose, the retired university professor, believes in the first option: the harmony of duality. It is his life-long and creative impulse: born as a twin brother in 1935 in Australia, he was parallelly working with figures and words as late as the age of forty-three, before obtaining a degree from Queensland University as a part-time student, and a full-time father of four children. Some time before he turned fifty, married for a second time, he traveled around Europe and Canada, and was awarded the Golden Wreath of the Struga Poetry Evenings in Macedonia in 1989, thirty-three years after his first poem was published.
Now, some eighteen years later, Blesok presents Shapcott as a prose writer (for second time in Macedonia after the publishing of his novel The White Stag of Exile in 1988, by “Misla”), with this author's own selection of ten short stories (translated in Macedonian by Igor Isakovski), who, in the same spirit of his belief in duality, is entitled Gatherers AND Hunters (rather than gatherers OR hunters).
Duality also rules in the stories that Shapcott as an author presents here. The stories The Red Hat and What to Do at the Time, which function as a
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