Penguin Essentials Out of Africa Mass Market Paperback – May 17 2011
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A work of sincere power ... a fine lyrical study of life in East Africa -- Harold Nicolson Daily Telegraph A compelling story of passion and a movingly poetic tribute to a lost land The Times With its lyrical and luminous picture of Kenya, it launched a million tourist trails Guardian
About the Author
Karen Blixen was born in Rungsted, Denmark, in 1885. After studying art at Copenhagen, Paris and Rome, she married her cousin, Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke, in 1914. Together they managed a coffee plantation in Kenya until they divorced in 1925. She continued on the farm until a collapse in the coffee market forced her back to Rungsted in 1931. Although she had written occasional contributions to Danish periodicals since 1905 (under the nom de plume of Osceola), her real debut took place in 1934 with the publication of Seven Gothic Tales, written in English under the pen name, Isak Dinesen. Out of Africa (1937) is an autobiographical account of the years she spent in Kenya. All of her subsequent books were published in both English and Danish, including Winter's Tales (1942) and The Angelic Avengers (1936). Among her other collections of stories are Last Tales (1957), Anecdotes of Destiny (1958), Shadows on the Grass (1960) and posthumously Ehrengard (1963). In the 1950s she was mentioned several times as a candidate to receive the Noble Prize in Literature. Baroness Blixen died in Rungsted in 1962. In 1991 her house was opened as The Karen Blixen Museum.
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Top Customer Reviews
Instead, "Out of Africa" is a storytelling book woven in the imaginative Danish style. Dinesen's finely tuned sensitivity is revealed here, as well as her (again typically Danish) well-developed gift for friendship with many kinds of people. In her case this gift extends to African animals as well, like Lulu, the beautiful gazelle who graced her plantation for years.
Her descriptions of the Kenya of her day are exquisitely written, factual and magical at the same time. Africa is the star of the book, not Dinesen herself, not the tribespeople or the colonials, not her struggles with raising coffee in land "a little too high", nor her political dealings with the government officials. Her writing evokes the Africa she knew well and loved deeply.
But being a learned and disciplined writer,Hemingway was after all able to appreciate good stuff when he saw it. Literary excellence is rare indeed, and here, in this book, you have it in the unadulterated form. Dinesen undoubtedly had something to say, but more importantly the means--or should I say the genius--to say it. Out of Africa would do very well as a textbook of English prose. Now in some of the other reviews I found words like "colonial," "racist," "conservationist," and so on. Of course, the reader should not be distracted by these words, but read the book first and form her independent opinion. Meanwhile, my opinion, clearly personal and subjective and limited by my time and place and social class and sex (oops,i mean gender) and whatever you'd like, is that these reviewers don't know what they are talking about. So buy this book and forget about them. Or if you don't want to take the risk, borrow it from the library first. Then you'll want to buy it.
The book is also notable for its lack of organization, often scanty details, and rapidly shifting focus. There are several places about 70 percent of the way through the book where you will wonder why she included the material at all, and even more why there in that particular spot.
The book's ultimate appeal is to the concept of being a young woman on her own in a beautiful part of African with the freedom and resources to explore herself and Africa.
I should like to have known her. A woman with such warmth and empathy for others must surely have made a wonderful friend. There's an element of Don Quixote in her as she pursues her impossible dream of a coffee plantation in the wrong place that's also appealing.
After you finish reading the book, I suggest that you think about where you could go today and have such a close connection to your new neighbors. Would you like to do that? What would you be willing to give up for this emotional resonance?
See yourself as others probably see you! Let humility be your guide.
Most recent customer reviews
A beautifully written memoir of the seventeen years that Karen Blixen spent in Kenya between 1914 and 1931. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Gregory B Wilson
This book is definitely not the script for the movie of the same name. It is a wonderful personal account by a women who ran a 6,000 acre farm on the outskirts of Nairobi in the... Read morePublished on Dec 22 2013 by Old time movie buff
The novel, Out of Africa is a personal account by the author of her 17 years living in Kenya and running her coffee plantation. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2013 by Jazz piano
I consider Out of Africa to be the best-written portrayal of Africa by a foreign writer. She did a great job in her portrayal, indicating that she was well versed not only with the... Read morePublished on June 28 2005 by Sancho Mahle
It's amazing how each media gives a completely different feel of this fabulous book. Dinesen's book gets 5 stars. Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by D. Kelly
If you want the full version of Out of Africa, this is not the audio book for you - its abridged.Published on April 16 2004 by Bruce Baizel
Blixen writes beautifully. It is interesting to note that English was not her native tongue but that she paints with it a beautiful portrait of Kenya between the world wars, its... Read morePublished on March 6 2004 by GEORGE R. FISHER
Upon hearing of this book from catcher in the Rye I decided to read it on a whim. Isak Dinesen's love for the land that she called home shown through in every remarkable story she... Read morePublished on Dec 29 2003