Translated from Macedonian: Milan Damjanoski
(Presenting the Another Story imprint, Edited by: Nikola Gelevski, Ivan Shopov, Skopje)
In the introductory essay to the Anthology of Short Prose Fiction in French Literature, given the title Forests Under the Sea after the short story written by the great traveler, poet and novelist Jean Orizet, Vlada Uroshevikj depicts the mise-en-scene behind the occurrence and the essence of the short story in the following manner: “Of all the literary forms, short prose fiction is most certainly the youngest. It will be brought to life by the spirit of the beginning of the 19th century, riding on the wave of dissatisfaction with the existing order that will colour European Romanticism, the revolt against the strict division of literary genres imposed by Classicism poetics, the widespread flouting of conventions, as well as the passionate quest for something new. This short prose form originated in France. However, works from other parts of the world had a hand in the preparation of the fertile soil where it sprung from…“ (Урошевиќ, 1994: 7). By defining short prose as an expression of a radiant valence as well as a specific need of French literature and culture, Uroshevikj states his opinion that this prose genre flourished and produced remarkable results in France unlike in any other national literature, yet that the short prose fiction has long ago surpassed the boundaries of the French linguistic expression and has grown into a general linguistic phenomenon. “Proof of this “- he says- „is that today the short prose genre is experiencing an ever greater expansion worldwide” (Урошевиќ, 1994: 20).
One of the first theoretical descriptions of the principles of the poetics of short prose or flash fiction in Macedonia which encouraged literary criticism- and subsequently the public- to embrace this genre, took place in the mid-1980s in Elizabeta Sheleva’s text The Fragment as a Work of Art. There, Sheleva views this specific literary tissue as an “energy concept which is closely related to the prose rhythm and the literary act. Depending on the dimensions of the construction,” – she states –“each element of the structure is granted a different function, power and weight in relation to the overall prose whole; thus smaller literary forms are marked by greater energetic power and more intense prose rhythm. All of this is necessary to comprehend that flash fiction is neither handicapped (due to its lack of a well-rounded epic structure), nor it is a concise version of the “regular” short story, but a new and specific phenomenon which creates its structure through a synthesis of the textual and extra-textual meanings “ (Шелева, 1986: 53).
In more recent discussion on this topic in contemporary literary theory, flash fiction is seen as one of the most popular prose forms in the world today. The following are considered to be its most characteristic literary procedures and modalities: its elliptic, fragmentary and luddite nature, its semantic indeterminacy, the absence of temporal and spatial determinants, hybridization and domination of liminal forms of narration (short story – essay, short story – novel, short story – poem, short story – letter, short story – note, short story – enigma), its inclination towards genre entropy, the effects of a discontinued reality, etc. (Ќулавкова, 2007: 448).
Along the lines of the abovementioned theoretical insights, Aleksandar Prokopiev tries to stipulate about the nature of the short story in his text on the work of prose Three Days in Paris by Emil Krstevski. Even though he is discussing this in the context of comparing the short story to the novel, his ideas can successfully be applied to the exploration of the principle of the poetics of flash fiction in relation to the “conventional – regular” short story. “The genre of the short story” – Prokopiev states – “though in a less number of pages than the novel, is inspired by the same universal themes – love, Eros, death, parting… – yet, due to this compressed and intimate space, the mastery of the story-teller comes to the fore, narrating in short frames and filling them with intense experiences that are conveyed then to the reader” (Прокопиев, 2017). Through pointing out the differences between long, extensive narration and short, condensed narration, he highlights the specific nature of the compressed space within which the author expresses his or her thoughts and ideas. This veritable distancing from the “novel-centric” perspective of the literature of today, he sheds a light on the central importance of the creative charge reflexively articulated by writers of short literary forms in their writing. It is in this aspect of the momentary creation of sense that the flash fiction validates the world, Mihajlo Pantikj says in his observation on this topic: “Outside of the short story, the world barely exists in a form without a voice or a shape. Ergo, the world is shaped through the short story. The short story is an anthropological constant. It is the store of human knowledge, experience, imagination, the consciousness that we exist. The short story is a special kind of a memory “black box”: all that is of essence can be found there…“(Пантиќ, 2001: 5)