Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

Franklin Library Isak Dinesen books

Seven Gothic Tales - Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers - 1977 

About Isak Dinesen

Isak Dinesen, the pen name of Karen Blixen, was a Danish author born on April 17, 1885, in Rungsted, Denmark. Known for her richly imaginative and evocative storytelling, Dinesen achieved international acclaim for her works, particularly her collection of short stories, Out of Africa. Born into a wealthy and aristocratic family, Karen Blixen spent her early years on the family estate in Rungstedlund, Denmark. In 1914, she married her cousin, Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke, and the couple moved to British East Africa (now Kenya), where they established a coffee plantation. The marriage was marked by challenges, and the couple eventually divorced in 1921. Despite the hardships, Blixen remained in Africa for many years, developing a deep connection to the land and its people. Blixen began writing under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen, and her first major work, Seven Gothic Tales, was published in 1934. The collection received critical acclaim for its intricate narratives and lyrical prose. However, it was her memoir, Out of Africa (1937), that brought her international fame. The book vividly recounted her experiences in Africa, capturing the beauty of the landscape, the complexities of colonial life, and her relationships with the people she encountered.

Following her return to Denmark in 1931, Dinesen continued to write and published several more works, including Winter's Tales (1942) and Babette's Feast (1950). The latter was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1987. Her storytelling often blended elements of fantasy, folklore, and autobiography, creating a unique and enchanting literary style. Despite her literary success, Isak Dinesen faced health challenges, including syphilis, which she contracted from her husband. She lived her later years in seclusion on the Rungstedlund estate. Isak Dinesen passed away on September 7, 1962, leaving behind a legacy of literary achievements that continue to captivate readers. Her ability to infuse her works with a sense of magic and her deep connection to the landscapes she inhabited have solidified her place as one of the 20th century's most distinctive and celebrated storytellers.

Out of Africa

Out of Africa is a memoir written by Isak Dinesen, the pen name of Danish author Karen Blixen. The book was first published in 1937 and is considered one of Dinesen's most significant works. It details her experiences living on a coffee plantation in British East Africa (now Kenya) during the years 1914 to 1931. The memoir is a lyrical and reflective account of Dinesen's life in Africa, capturing the beauty of the landscape, the challenges of colonial existence, and the relationships she formed with the people of the region. Central to the narrative is her connection to the Kikuyu people and her respect for their culture. The title Out of Africa reflects not only the geographical origin of the story but also the broader theme of departure and transformation. Dinesen writes with a rich and evocative style, blending autobiographical elements with poetic descriptions of the African landscape and its people. The memoir explores themes of love, loss, and the intersection of European and African cultures. Dinesen's narrative voice and her ability to convey a deep appreciation for the natural world contribute to the enduring appeal of Out of Africa.

The book was adapted into a film of the same name in 1985, starring Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen and Robert Redford as Denys Finch Hatton, a British big-game hunter and aviator who played a significant role in Dinesen's life. The film won several Academy Awards, further popularizing Dinesen's story. Out of Africa remains a classic work of literature, celebrated for its exploration of identity, the impact of colonialism, and the timeless allure of the African continent. Isak Dinesen's legacy is deeply tied to this memoir, which continues to be widely read and studied for its literary merit and its portrayal of a remarkable period in the author's life.

Seven Gothic Tales

Originally published in 1934, Seven Gothic Tales, the first book by Isak Dinesen, is a modern classic. Here are seven exquisite tales combining the keen psychological insight characteristic of the modern short story with the haunting mystery of the nineteenth-century Gothic tale, in the tradition of writers such as Goethe, Hoffmann, and Poe.
Romantics, adventurers, sensualists, melancholics and dreamers inhabit the bizarre and exotic world conjured up in these seven intricately interwoven tales, whose settings range from Tuscany and Elsinore, to a dhow on its way from Lamu to Zanzibar.

Proclaimed a masterpiece on its publication in 1934, this collection is shot through with themes of love and desire - from the maiden lady who now believes herself to have been the grand courtesan of her time, to the Count whose wife is so jealous that she cannot bear him to admire her jewels, and Lincoln Forsner, an Englishman whose search for a woman he met in a brothel leads him into many strange adventures.

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