[ Textbooks ] Out of AfricaAuthor Isak Dinesen – Pandora-jewelry.co
In This Book, The Author Of Seven Gothic Tales Gives A True Account Of Her Life On Her Plantation In Kenya She Tells With Classic Simplicity Of The Ways Of The Country And The Natives Of The Beauty Of The Ngong Hills And Coffee Trees In Blossom Of Her Guests, From The Prince Of Wales To Knudsen, The Old Charcoal Burner, Who Visited Her Of Primitive Festivals Of Big Game That Were Her Near Neighbors Lions, Rhinos, Elephants, Zebras, Buffaloes And Of Lulu, The Little Gazelle Who Came To Live With Her, Unbelievably Ladylike And BeautifulThe Random House Colophon Made Its Debut In February On The Cover Of A Little Pamphlet Called Announcement Number One Bennett Cerf And Donald Klopfer, The Company S Founders, Had Acquired The Modern Library From Publishers Boni And Liveright Two Years Earlier One Day, Their Friend The Illustrator Rockwell Kent Stopped By Their Office Cerf Later Recalled, Rockwell Was Sitting At My Desk Facing Donald, And We Were Talking About Doing A Few Books On The Side, When Suddenly I Got An Inspiration And Said, I Ve Got The Name For Our Publishing House We Just Said We Were Go Ing To Publish A Few Books On The Side At Random Let S Call It Random House Donald Liked The Idea, And Rockwell Kent Said, That S A Great Name I Ll Draw Your Trademark So, Sitting At My Desk, He Took A Piece Of Paper And In Five Minutes Drew Random House, Which Has Been Our Colophon Ever Since Throughout The Years, The Mission Of Random House Has Remained Consistent To Publish Books Of The Highest Quality, At Random We Are Proud To Continue This Tradition TodayThis Edition Is Set From The First American Edition Of And Commemorates The Seventy Fifth Anniversary Of Random House I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills After finishing the book I turned back to read this opening line again, and in this first sentence one can sense the pride that Blixen felt for this place, and one can also feel the sadness, the disappointment in the word had , knowing that it slipped away from her at the end Losing her farm and also losing her beloved Denys Finch Hatton must have been devastating.This is one of those memoirs that is as compelling as good fiction Blixen s stories of African life, of the people, of the culture, of her life on the farm, and the extraordinary events she experienced far exceed what most of us will ever encounter. INCANTO E CAPRICCI DEL DESTINOLa prima volta che l ho letto stato nell et in cui si ha bisogno di nemici, in cui l odio sembra nobile e tonificante, in cui uccidere i genitori, soprattutto il padre, e la sua dannata autorit , gesto vitale pur se meramente simbolico Karen Blixen incarn per me il paternalismo del colonialista, e il colonialista era un nemico.E allora non conoscevo l Africa e non ne ero ancora innamorato.Poi, leggendo Capote mi sono imbattuto in questa frase Non c una sola pagina di quel libro che non tremi di vita come una foglia su un albero scosso dalla tempesta, e m venuta voglia di dargli una seconda chance.Durante il suo ultimo grande viaggio, in USA, Karen Blixen fu fotografata da Cecil Beaton A Nyack, villaggio venti km a Nord di Manhattan, contea di Rockland, a casa dell amica e collega scrittrice Carson McCullers, fu ritratta in compagnia di Arthur Miller e Marilyn Monroe, che la Blixen teneva molto a conoscere.Ho fatto bene, perch un libro stupendo, un puro intenso incanto dalla prima all ultima pagina, e probabilmente dal primo all ultimo rigo.Non solo Blixen scrive magnificamente e i suoi racconti sono meravigliosi, ma ben lungi dai preconcetti tipici dei bianchi Al contrario, sente viva forte e penetrante la malia dell Africa.Al punto che ne sostiene la superiorit , rispetto all Europa, in quanto pi pura e pi vicina a quanto Dio aveva preparato per gli uomini.Le pagine che raggiungono vette toccando corde profonde sono tante quelle in cui Blixen parla della natura del continente, dell erba, dei colori e degli odori indimenticabili quelle sulla notte africana, i cieli stellati, la luna il racconto del piccolo cuoco Kamante l antilope Lulu, da cucciola ad adulta e poi madre gli africani e la scrittura la giustizia africana Il capitolo pi lungo, Dal taccuino di un emigrante, proprio quello che il titolo rivela, appunti divisi in corti paragrafi, quasi frettolosi, pi slegati delle pagine che precedono e seguono, e dimostrano che Blixen riesce a rendere musicale e incantevole anche la disarmonia.L ultimo capitolo, un sesto del libro, dedicato all addio Non ero io ad andarmene, io non avevo il potere di lasciare l Africa, ma era l Africa che lentamente, gravemente, si ritirava da me, come il mare nella bassa marea.E questo spiega il titolo originale, Out of Africa , un distillato di nostalgia.Meryl Streep e Robert Redford nel celebre film di Sydney Pollack, 1985 Nel film, data la presenza di una star come Redford, la parte dedicata a Denys Finch Hatton enormemente dilatata rispetto al libro Il film ha vinto 7 Oscar film, regia, sceneggiatura non originale, fotografia, scenografia, soundtrack, e sonoro.Ma per una volta il titolo italiano mi sembra pi azzeccato perch questo libro, che non certo un vero romanzo, che molto diverso dal film che ne stato tratto, che non racconta la storia d a tra Karen e Denys, questo libro una meditazione lirica sugli anni che la Blixen pass in Africa Orientale Kenya, parte dell impero inglese dal 1913 al 1931, un tributo a quel continente che la madre di ogni vita, alle genti che lo abitano, e a quelle persone, amici collaboratori viaggiatori, che hanno toccato la sua vita lasciando un segno.Blixen procede per rievocazioni, senza un filo temporale, a volte senza neppure un filo logico, come se inseguisse ombre ricordi fantasmi fascinazioni S immerge nella strepitosa natura africana, circondata dalla sua fauna, e dai suoi popoli, i misteriosi guerrieri Masai, ma ancora di pi i Kikuyu, l etnia di quello che sar il primo presidente del Kenya indipendente, Yomo Kenyatta.Curiosit 1 i souvenir che si vedono al museo Blixen ai piedi dell altopiano del Ngong gli stivali, la macchina da scrivere, l orologio, il grammofono sono copie rifatte per il film di Pollack dell 85, con Meryl Streep e Robert Redford.Curiosit 2 in Il giovane Holden il protagonista cita Out of Africa e chiama l autrice con lo pseudonimo Isak Dinesen Il romanzo viene descritto come bellissimo e Holden dice di rileggere pi volte alcune frasi e che Isak Dinesen un autore di quelli che lui chiamerebbe volentieri al telefono.Curiosit 3 nell ultimo grande viaggio in America che fece, la Blixen fu fotografata da Cecil Beaton Lo scatto pi famoso una foto a casa dell amica Carson McCullers, l autrice di Riflessi in un occhio d oro Ci sono Arthur Miller e Marilyn Monroe, che la Blixen teneva molto a conoscere Marilyn biondissima, scollata, bellissima Karen ossuta, molto coperta, una cuffia in testa, giri di sciarpa attorno al collo Pare abbiano anche ballato insieme A volte i capricci del destino, quelli che hanno dato il titolo al suo ultimo libro, accomunano le persone pi diverse Karen e Marilyn, pur con et molto diverse, sono uscite di scena nello stesso anno, il 1962.La casa dove si presume abbia vissuto Karen Blixen, ora adibita a museo. 4.5 starsI had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, and unequalled nobility A beautiful and evocative memoir of Baroness Karen von Blixen Finecke, Out of Africa is a tribute to that magnificent continent from a woman who truly loved both the land and its people One must remember while reading this memoir that it was written during a period of colonialism, but I never sensed that Blixen felt herself superior to the native Kikuyu people of Kenya, where she worked tirelessly alongside them on her coffee plantation The Kikuyu held much respect for Blixen and she in turn respected their values and traditions She sympathized with various points of view, while at the same time admitting that the Kikuyu perhaps had a greater understanding of her than the other way roundI reconciled myself to the fact that while I should never quite know or understand them, they knew me through and through, and were conscious of the decisions that I was going to take, before I was certain about them myself The descriptions of the landscape and the wildlife of Africa are as stunning as one would expect Everything comes to life with Blixen s vivid and lovely prose One can believe she really wanted to become a part of Africa herself, not just one that wanted to claim a piece of it I loved her story about little Lulu, a young bushbuck antelope that at one time became a member of the household in her own rightLulu came in from the wild world to show that we were on good terms with it, and she made my house one with the African landscape, so that nobody could tell where the one stopped and the other beganThose who are sensitive to the topic should be warned that there are a couple of hunting scenes and mentions of safaris These were unfortunately common events of the day, but quite regrettable nevertheless They did not affect my overall enjoyment of this book The majesty of the lion and lioness in his and her natural environment is something that I will always recall with a sense of awe.I m not sure what I liked most about this book the country or the people that Blixen got to know over the twelve or so years she spent on her plantation Both aspects are so very captivating Throughout this time, many visitors came and went from her home It was a place of refuge for Europeans traveling to the continentThey had been over vast countries and had raised and broken their tents in many places, now they were pleased to round my drive that was steadfast as the orbit of a star They liked to be met by familiar faces, and I had the same servants all the time that I was in AfricaIt was also a place of gathering for the ngomas, the Kikuyu s great social dances One of the most memorable visitors to the farm was Denys Finch Hatton, a gentleman Blixen held in high regard and with whom she spent much time between his various safari outingsDenys had watched and followed all the ways of the African Highlands, and better than any other white man, he had known their soil and seasons, the vegetation and the wild animals, the winds and smells He had observed the changes of weather in them, their people, clouds, the stars at nightOne of her greatest joys was when she had the opportunity to fly over Africa with Denys and see its riches from above Parting with her coffee plantation, her servants, and the Kikuyu was a time of great sadness for Blixen, but she made sure to see that all of those who had depended on her and the farm for their own livelihood were taken care of to the best of her ability Blixen will always stand out in my mind as a woman of courage, compassion and great dignity Highly recommended to those that enjoy memoirs, Africa, and admirable womenIf I know a song of Africa, I thought, of the Giraffe, and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields, and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me Would the air over the plain quiver with a colour that I had had on, or the children invent a game in which my name was, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or would the eagles of Ngong look out for me I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills From its first sentence Out of Africa captivated me It was enchanting, old fashioned, poignant, wistful and insightful Karen Blixen s story of her life in Africa, a series of reminiscences from 1914 to 1931, portrays her love for that country the people, the land, the animals It has a fairy tale quality at times Blixen is a master story teller it s easy to understand why Denys Finch Hatton loved to hear her recount her stories The book, however, is not without its issues Of its time, the memoirs could disturb our modern sensibilities such as when she talks of whites and coloured people , or when she describes her lion hunting adventures Remember that at the time it was written there was no banner of political correctness I don t read in her writings a sense of ethnic superiority, but she was unapologetically aristocratic Nevertheless, the author s love of Africa and its people shines through But that Africa she tells us about is no.With her coffee farm losing money, despite her desperate efforts to save it, her African adventure unravels at the endIt was not I who was going away, I did not have it in my power to leave Africa, but it was the country that was slowly and gravely withdrawing from me, like the sea in ebb tide The procession that was passing here, it was in reality my strong pulpy young dancers of yesterday and the day before yesterday, who were withering before my eyes, who were passing away for ever They were going in their own style, gently in a dance, the people were with me, and I with the people, well content Highly recommended It is November and it is to the point where many of the books in my library pile are meant to check off books remaining in yearly challenges in some capacity Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, the pen name for Karen Blixen, is highly regarded As such, it was chosen as a buddy read in the group Retro Chapter Chicks this month I also happened to have the book on my bingo card in the group Catching up on Classics so I could read to check off that box as well, and now I only have one box left to complete the full card Besides being able to check off multiple boxes at a time, I enjoy memoirs and biographies so I was looking forward to reading a memoir of the classic variety There is something about this book that I can not quite pinpoint that just does not do it for me.Karen Blixen managed a coffee farm in the Ngong hills of Kenya during the interwar years In her memoir she passionately describes the time and place where she lived One could get a feeling that this memoir focuses on Blixen s love affair with Africa as she describes her farm, the relationships she forged with both natives and Europeans, the Kenyan way of life, and the luscious scenery Yet, I need action I need a narrator of a memoir to move quickly from one point to the other or I find myself bored Despite my fascination with the African way of life during the 1920s, this memoir read slow As Blixen described the daily life on her farm, the prose had me dosing off however, when a car went to the bustling city of Nairobi or the natives held a festive dance or people decided to go on a safari, I had my interest piqued Thus is the contrast between past and modern settings.I do give Blixen credit for managing her farm alone with a delinquent husband for nearly ten years during an era when women were for the most part property of their husbands Blixen was well respected by the natives and enjoyed a working relationship with government officials in Nairobi She treated the native Kikuyu and Masai people with dignity and they in turn asked Blixen to intercede on their behalf in most government matters Because of Blixen s position in Kenyan and Somali society, Out of Africa has remained a well read book among feminist circles Critics laud Blixen s spirit of adventure and spunk during this bygone era For that reason I was willing to read to the conclusion and give the memoir the benefit of the doubt.While I got a feel for Kenya of ninety years ago, the prose moved too slow to rank Out of Africa among my favorite classics read The subject matter makes it a worthy read and I would still urge people to give it a try on a lazy day especially as the scenery sounds breathtaking Out of Africa aptly check off the classic I put off reading square on my bingo card as this was a book that felt like one that I wanted to give up on throughout yet, I managed to endure Blixen s stay on African soil A worthy read, just not completely my taste.3 stars I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong HillsThis very first line of Dinesen s memoir is like down Alice s rabbit hole Platform Nine and three quarters, King s Cross or that cyclone that took Dorothy to Oz Except this time, the world is a real one Though not imaginary, it isn t lacking in adventures because of that and is unlike anything that modern city dwelling readers can knowIt is a sad hardship and slavery to people who live in towns, that in their movements they know of one dimension only they walk along the line as if they were led on a string The transition from the line to the plane into the two dimensions, when you wander across a field or through a wood, is a splendid liberation to the slaves, like the French Revolution But in the air you are taken into the full freedom of the three dimensions after long ages of exile and dreams the homesick heart throws itself into the arms of spaceWhat sets this book apart from other books on Africa by European travellers who always seemed to be filled with horrors, is that she probably loves it than her homeland and is at one with itHere I am, where I ought to be When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her musicAnd Dinesen is filled with love for everything she found in this world And she has a beautiful prose with which to describe this loveAs they had become used to the idea of poetry, they begged Speak again Speak like rain Why they should feel verse to be like rain I do not know People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongueAnd, since she is an avid reader, she is able to further beautify her prose with quotes from other booksKepler writes of what he felt when, after many years work, he at last found the laws of the movements of the planets I give myself over to my rapture The die is cast Nothing I have ever felt before is like this I tremble, my blood leaps God has waited six thousand years for a looker on to his work His wisdom is infinite, that of which we are ignorant is contained in him, as well as the little that we know So sad did it seem that I remembered the saying of the hero in a book that I had read as a child I have conquered them all, but I am standing amongst gravesThe two criticisms it has drawn is that it is racist and talks about hunting As regards hunting, a lot of it is rendered neccesary by conditions though she does sometimes do for fun of it, also she manages to show a compassion for animals Moreover I never really understand why it should be a taboo People never really care about the number of lives they take in doing pest controls at homes.As regards racism, I don t think she is racist Racism, like every other prejudice, guards the ignorance which is at its roots and is unapreiciative and uncomprenhending of beauty in the prejudiced Dinesen is the very opposite of that, she shows a great love and respect for African people and their culture as well a great willingness to understand themThe Masai when they were moved from their old country, North of the railway line, to the present Masai Reserve, took with them the names of their hills, plains and rivers and gave them to the hills, plains and rivers in the new country perhaps the white men of the past, indeed of any past, would have been in better understanding and sympathy with the coloured races than we, of our Industrial Age, shall ever be When the first steam engine was constructed, the roads of the races of the world parted, and we have never found one another since Up at Meru I saw a young Native girl with a bracelet on, a leather strap two inches wide, and embroidered all over with very small turquoise coloured beads which varied a little in colour and played in green, light blue, and ultramarine It was an extraordinarily live thing it seemed to draw breath on her arm, so that I wanted it for myself, and made Farah buy it from her No sooner had it come upon my own arm than it gave up the ghost It was nothing now, a small, cheap, purchased article of finery It had been the play of colours, the duet between the turquoise and the n gre that quick, sweet, brownish black, like peat and black pottery, of the Native s skin that had created the life of the bracelet I chose to read this book in high school as one of those free reading things for which you later have to give a presentation This is a book about Africa for white people who want to go on a safari and see the cool animals, which is basically what the author did I kinda hated Karen Blixen for her condescending attitude towards the natives and I felt the whole book was nothing but pretentious, self aggrandizing bullshit If I had had any courage, I would have done two things differently for my report 1 I would have read a book about Africa written by someone who has a real respect for the land, not someone who writes of Africa as if it were an out of control child that needed to be brought in line, and compared the two 2 I would have admitted to not liking the book I thought that if I said I didn t like it, I would look stupid instead of pretending to enjoy it My pretending totally sucked and it came off looking like I didn t read the book I think I may have failed the presentation, but I can t remember.In case you were wondering, I added an extra star because I actually do like the author s writing style. I once had a crush on Karen Blixen, at the shores of Rungstedlund.Travelling my life like Odysseus the mythical Mediterranean seas, I found myself in front of a majestic house on a strip of Danish coastline, some ten years ago, and in the company of my lively bunch of toddlers, aged approximately 4, 2.5 and 0.5 years While I walked reverently in the footsteps of Karen Blixen, studiously scrutinising every single letter and photograph on display in the exhibition, my family ran wild outside, enjoying the closeness to the sea and the summer breeze, and a caf just on the waterfront A perfect set up When I reluctantly left the museum, I carried with me a book bought in the gift shop, the only one by Blixen I had not borrowed in my local library because I wanted to own it myself My copy of Out Of Africa carries a sticker with the silhouette of Karen Blixen and a label of Karen Blixen Museet Rungstedlund It also tells me that I paid 140 Danish crowns for it, marked in pencil inside the cover.What you experience intensely becomes part of who you are It changes your perception of the world and makes you different When I read Karen Blixen s stories, her biography, her letters, and now finally after a ten year long odyssey of reading other books her Out Of Africa, something touches me deep inside, and I feel her happiness, sadness, excitement, boredom and disappointment almost physically I don t know why that is really Maybe it has something to do with the Scandinavian heritage taken on a joyride into the big, big world Maybe it has to do with her accepting that she was different, a stranger within her own environment, but still deeply engaged in it That she was willing to sacrifice a lot to live according to her own rules, and never stopped fighting for what she considered worthwhile, however hopeless the fight seemed against conventions and world history in general She knew about her own flaws and prejudices, and weighed them against others, creating lucid comparisons between different people at a time when Europeans tended to see natives in Africa as mere tools or backdrop Her language and behaviour are aristocratic in a way that reminds me of Virginia Woolf It is a charming vanity, as she does not hide it at all.What about the book itself, what did it add to my idea of Karen Blixen It gave me the shivers, and a strong feeling of respect for her honest account of life in a country that works with completely different codes of conduct, myths and traditions When she describes how she starts writing during a drought, filling loose papers with stories, her servant comes in and doubts the success of her ambition, comparing her drafts to the heavily bound volume of the Odyssey she has in her possession The European mind now smiles inwardly and thinks that it of course is hard to compete with Homer, but that is not the angle of the reflection of Blixen s servant He is worried that her book consists of loose paper, whereas the Odyssey is bound, sturdy, impressive, heavy The conclusion is that Blixen s work would be equally impressive if she managed to get it printed in hardcover, an expensive endeavour, but feasible Her literary soul is disclosed in every day to day reflection she makes An old Danish adventurer, who comes to live and die on the farm, is compared to The Ancient Mariner or The Old Man and The Sea A lion hunt turns into a Greek tragedy with all actors dead in the last act A discussion of The Merchant Of Venice with her Somali servant Farah gives the Shakespearean story a new twist All the time, the capability to read reality from different angles shines through Karen Blixen understands not only the strangeness of the Kikuyu, Masai and Somali, but also of the French and Scottish missionaries, the English District Commissioner and the Scandinavian big game hunters Hers is a universe apart, on a farm, in the Ngong Hills In her beautiful descriptions of a lifestyle lost forever, a European coffee plantation reality in Kenya during the Great War and Depression era, Karen Blixen captures the idea of global citizenship by taking traditions for what they are inherited culture Her own culture forbids her to talk too freely of her most passionate love during those years her relationship to Denys Finch Hatton is never explained fully, never analysed with the sharp intelligence she is capable of in all other respects But it can be sensed in her compulsive need to start sentences with Denys and I , followed by a simple anecdote Denys and I , repeated over and over, establishes a connection that must have made her feel joy long after she lost her one true, wild love, and her farm as well As I read her letters first, it made me start when I saw the casual line in the novel, describing in shortest possible manner a long correspondence and pressure on Karen to give up her life My people at home, who had shares in the farm, wrote out to me and told me that I would have to sell And she did, eventually She moved back to Denmark and spent her last years, in frail health, in that beautiful environment where I eventually made her acquaintance figuratively speaking, of course , writing and dreaming of Africa They people who dream know that the real glory of dreams lies in their atmosphere of unlimited freedom It is not the freedom of the dictator, who enforces his own will on the world, but the freedom of the artist, who has no will, who is free of will To me, it seems that Karen Blixen was a lucky woman, to be able to live according to her dreams for a long time, to enjoy great love, and to be able to sit down and write an opening line of unforgettable beauty I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills And I had a crush on Karen Blixen, at the shore of Rungstedlund Really lovely a living, breathing piece of history with writing that will make your heart sing Of its time, certainly not politically correct with its colonial viewpoint, but nevertheless, the author s love of Africa and its people shines through I felt as though I was sitting at Scheherazade s knee as she spun her 1001 tales Dinesen Blixen is a master story teller I can understand why Denys Finch Hatton loved to hear her tell her stories.Highly recommend.