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Penguin Essentials Out Of Africa [Paperback]

Karen Blixen
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 17 2011 Penguin Essentials
Karen Blixen's "Out of Africa" is the lyrical and luminous memoir of Kenya that launched a million tourist trails, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills...Up in this high air you breathed easily ...you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.' From the moment Karen Blixen arrived in Kenya in 1914 to manage a coffee plantation, her heart belonged to Africa. Drawn to the intense colours and ravishing landscapes, Blixen spent her happiest years on the farm, and her experiences and friendships with the people around her are vividly recalled in these memoirs. "Out of Africa" is the story of a remarkable and unconventional woman, and of a way of life that has vanished for ever. "With its lyrical and luminous picture of Kenya, it launched a million tourist trails". ("Guardian") "A compelling story of passion and a movingly poetic tribute to a lost land". ("The Times"). A work of sincere power ...a fine lyrical study of life in East Africa - Harold Nicolson, "Daily Telegraph" 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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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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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Struggles May 8 2003
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
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Experiencing Africa Jan. 24 2002
Format:Hardcover
I think that when someone writes his/her memories or an autobiography, more than sharing an experience with the readers he / she wants to come to terms with something that happened and Writing can be a very helpful shink sometimes. When it comes to "Out Of Africa", it seems that in the whole book Karen Blixen -- aka Isak Dinesen or Tania Blixen or Pierre Andrezel -- is trying to come to terms with the lost of her farm in Nariobi.
In my opinion, the last part is the most important a nd I had the feeling that all the others are a preparation for what would happen. The novel bounces between naive humor and native costumes in Africa. It is very clear that the writer is deeply in love with the continent, so it is not possible to have an anlytical approach to the subjet. But, of course, we have to keep in mind that she is telling us part of her live, so who would be able to be analytical ? the writing is nice, but sometimes heavy and boring. It came a time while reading that I had the feeling I was 'reading' in circles -- I mean it seemed that I'd been reading the same thing over and over again. But I think I could see her point: she wants to tell the more experiences and life in Africa she can. I liked the first pages vey much, they are very lyrical and funny somehow, but after a time all these things become boring and very hard to be followed.
Anyway, the book can be read as a prortrait of the portrait of the colonialism in Africa and its impact on natives's lives. But I wonder how accurate it is. We cannot forget that the story is told by an European's point of view, and many times she addmits not undertanding many costumes of the natives.
However, I cannot forget to mention the high points of the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A TRUE LOVE STORY Jan. 1 2002
Format:Hardcover
Isak Dinesen has in this work brought to life the beauty of living in the African wild. Her story told through the eyes of heart break is able to take the reader into the wilds of Africa, and create a respect for the land, its people and its wild. Her love for every aspect of the land is openly apparent from the very beginning of the book, and we see it even at the very end when she begs the British Governor to allow the natives to remain on her land. This far away land had taken her into its arms when she needed its love the most, and this was her way of paying it back. She broke tradition in many ways - her eventual admittance to the 'mens club' in Nairobi reveals the amazing strength of this woman. She had a farm in Africa, and she truely loved it for everything it was and everything it had shared with her and she with it. This is a book that my mother read, and now I have read and love it. It transported both of us to this far away land and made us fall in love with its beauty - this maybe the reason why my mother returns to Africa every few years to visit the plains of Masaimara. I assure you, you will not regret reading this work - it is one of a kind!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars More depth than fluff
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 more
Published 9 months ago by Old time movie buff
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful snapshot of colonial East Africa in the 1920's
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 more
Published 10 months ago by Jazz piano
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
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 more
Published on June 28 2005 by Sancho Mahle
4.0 out of 5 stars Julie Harris does a perfect read
It's amazing how each media gives a completely different feel of this fabulous book. Dinesen's book gets 5 stars. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by D. Kelly
3.0 out of 5 stars An incomplete version
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely but incomplete
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 more
Published on March 6 2004 by GEORGE R. FISHER
5.0 out of 5 stars I could almost see the mountains
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 more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by "chsgrace"
5.0 out of 5 stars A hymn of praise and love for what was once Africa
Out of Africa is the very best of many memoirs of Africa in the early part of this century, the era before two World Wars changed that continent completely. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2003 by Peggy Vincent
5.0 out of 5 stars a return to africa
how can the reader not adore her? ten stars for karen blixen........and 100 for africa........where we honeymoned in 1970. i went back to nairobi with izak dinesen.
Published on May 26 2003 by blanche m swedberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
This book is not longer than other books, but it is not a fast read. It is not such that you cannot put it down. Yet it is the best book I have ever read. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2003 by M.I.
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