Thank you...

... for taking the time to stop by. I hope some of these ponderings will resonate with you.

Leave a comment if you want to - your contributions are more than welcome.

(Unless stated otherwise, all text & pictures are © Lee Labuschagne, all rights reserved.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

1+1+1 for 365, day 19: Off to the Groot Marico

"Oh yes, there are two varieties on this side of the Limpopo. The chief difference between them is that the one kind of leopard has got a few more spots on it than the other kind. But when you meet a leopard in the veld, unexpectantly, you seldom trouble to count his spots to find out what kind he belongs to. That is unnecessary. Because, whatever kind of leopard it is that you come across in this way, you only do one kind of running. And that is the fastest kind." - Herman Charles Bosman  (Mafeking Road)

The Illustrated Bosman - Herman Charles Bosman

After writing about Edgar Allan Poe yesterday, it was one easy step to the work of a South African master of the short story, Herman Charles Bosman, because Bosman studied among others the work of Poe.  
Herman Charles Bosman (1905-1951) was raised in both English and Afrikaans, and this reflected in his writing: he wrote in English, but his down-to-earth stories with their wry humour, unexpected twists in the tail and warm humanity, resound with a voice that straight from the African soil and indeed, the music of the Afrikaans tongue indeed Afrikaans is tightly woven into his work with Afrikaans words and phrases.  
Some of the subject matter of his stories and choice of vocabulary (for instance, the use of the dreaded word "kafir") are definitely not politically correct in today's terms - but Bosman was certainly no politically correct diplomat.  He was a storyteller and he used the language of his times. He created his characters with affection and understanding, and his stories are rooted in the reality of his times.

He started writing while still at school and the Sunday Times published some of his earliest short stories.

As a young graduate, he became a teacher at an Afrikaans school in the Groot Marico district and found in that area the inspiration for the stories that made him famous -  the Voorkamer ("living room") and Oom ("Uncle") Schalk Lourens stories.  His inspiration also came from much more stressful circumstances: at the age of 21 he shot and killed his stepbrother and was first sentenced to death, but was reprieved and his sentence commuted to ten years in prison (of which he finally served less than five years).  He wrote the first of the Oom Schalk Lourens stories while in prison, and his experiences in jail became the basis of the stories in Cold Stone Jug.

After a period in Johannesburg when he was part of the literary crowd, he spent nine years overseas and his period in London inspired the Mafeking Road stories. He later worked as journalist and translator. 

This is an author whose work is made for reading out loud.  I've often chosen his stories, together with those of P G Wodehouse, to take along for evenings of reading out loud.  Indeed, this reminds me that it is long since I've dragged a group of friends away from the TV, theatre or other amusements and instead of an elaborite dinner, have a simple meal followed by each person reading out loud a short story.  A glass of wine or two does not hurt in the process, and I am sure Bosman would have approved because he and his wife Ella were known for their parties.

Like so many others, I fondly remember actor Patrick Mynhardt, who had done so much over the years to popularise the work of Bosman with his reading and stage interpretations. It is fitting that he was buried next to Bosman in Johannesburg's Westpark cemetary.

This particular collection of some of Bosman's short stories is beautifully illustrated by the photographs of David Goldblatt and the drawings by Peter Badcock.

A really big cat... Today's quote refers to a leopard, but I haven't yet taken any good pictures of leopards. 
So here is the King of the Beasts instead
Picture & text: © Lee Labuschagne - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

1 comment:

  1. That is a very big kitten! Very nice picture and liked the story.

    ANother Cat Lover


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