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Penguin Essentials Out of Africa Mass Market Paperback – May 17 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK (May 17 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241951437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241951439
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 2 x 18 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 82 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #78,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


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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I HAD A FARM in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) has been elevated to star status by the feminists for her independent stance and courage, but don't read this book because of that. Don't look for the tragic story of her misguided marriage and the heartbreak and barrenness it brought her, or for descriptions of her love affair with adventurer Denys Finch-Hatton. None of that appears here.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Isak Dinesen's novel Out of Africa is a recollection of her time spent in Africa while struggling to cope with the immensely different cultures and struggling to run a coffee farm at too high of an altitude. This book is a collection of her stories most of them about her adventures shared with lover Denys Finch-Hatton. Many of the stories are very dangerous, like when they go lion hunting. These stories show the wild side that Dinesen posses. These stories are in no chronological order and at times make the book hard to follow. The best part of the book is the astounding imagery used. The imagery describes the breathtaking views from the on top the Ngong hills and allows you to feel the lack of oxygen, smell the coffee plants and feel the strong African sun beating down upon your skin. The down side to this book is, even after experiencing many adventurers with Dinesen you will probably feel that you do not know much about her personality. This is due to lack of character development since she is telling the story and never describes herself. You do however learn about the struggle she faces being a European woman living in a minority, in a place with very different and diverse cultures. She has to adapt to these cultures and even though she finds her European traditions very different from those of the Africans, she realizes that there is some common ground between the two. Even though this book can be at times hard to follow I highly recommend reading it. The magnificent imagery makes up for the down sides to the book and causes you to realize why Dinesen fell in love with Africa. You will probably find yourself falling in live with Africa and its people just as Dinesen did. A truly remarkable book.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading this book, Hemingway said in an interview that Dinesen is more deserving of the Nobel prize. It should be remembered that this remark did not come from a modest man, but from someone who was fond of talking about beating Tolstoy in the ring, having defeated Stendhal. Nor, for that matter, was Hemingway known for respecting women.
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.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Oct. 16 2001
Format: Hardcover
Baroness Karen Blixen's famous memoir of her years on the coffee plantation high above Nairobi is significant for her description of what today's Kenya was like in the early part of the 20th century, for the book's influence for attracting and shaping the reactions of many who followed her to Kenya like Dr. Jane Goodall, and her engaging personality for taking on the challenges, trials, and problems of others while grasping their perspective on her. Although a progressive thinker for her day, sex, and class, nevertheless Ms. Blixen's views on the native Africans will not sit well with most modern readers (from referring to men who worked for her as "boys" to her inclination toward seeing native Africans as perpetually apart from the machine-inventing and using Europeans). Conservationists will be appalled by the casual shooting of lions who might have been chasing domesticated cattle.
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.
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