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Out of Africa (Penguin Essentials) [Paperback]

Karen Blixen
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 April 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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Out of Africa (Penguin Essentials) + Out Of Africa [DVD] [1986]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (7 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241951437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241951439
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 10.8 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

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)

From the Back Cover

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, Karen 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. Out of Africa was made into a highly acclaimed film, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, and won seven Oscars. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The opposite of travel-writing 9 July 2002
By A.K.
Format:Paperback
Through "Out of Africa" Karen Blixen tells Europe of her long stay on a coffee farm outside Nairobi. It is a work of pure romanticism, of an educated and refined young woman who wants to see Africa as her beloved romantic authors of the nineteenth century might have done. I mean romanticism in the proper sense of the word - the conviction that man and nature should be one, that the greatest human fulfilment is in merging with the land, plants and animals around us and becoming one with them.
The book concentrates on the Kenyan landscape and the Africans who people it. She draws romantic and spiritual lessons from the oneness of the Africans with their land. Perhaps some of her commentary on the Kikuyu seems patronising nowadays, but how else could she have written ?
Blixen's style is readable, fluent and anecdotal, making "Out of Africa" an easy read. (Though there are times when her landscape descriptions are a little too purple and her verse, the little of it that she shares, is frankly embarrassing.)
In fact,"Out of Africa" is a rare item - a book about long-term expatriation rather than a "travel book" about a short trip to a glamorous place. So, it's not Blixen's game to be taking colourful incidents out of context and making a song-and-dance about how exotic they are, which is the irritating stock-in-trade of the travel writer. She describes what happens to a person when the exotic becomes commonplace, which is as different from travel-writing as roast beef is from candyfloss.
But Blixen hides herself away too. Many of her preoccupations are merely hinted at : her love for Finch-Hatton, her husband, her strained relationships with other whites and the day-to-day business of the farm.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
'Out Of Africa' is a marvellous account of Karen Blixen's time running a coffee plantation in Kenya. The enchanting prose in which this 'novel' is written laments the intense love for Africa, its places and people that through a woven, progressive and sometimes heart-rendering narrative, Blixen so beautifully portrays.
Blixen's interaction with the Kikuyu tribe lends a unique perspective (in terms of the period in which this novel was written) of a young imperialist white woman and the way she deals with the natives of Africa. She genuinely wants to help them, wants to educate and employ them.
Blixen was famous world-wide for her intricate and olf-fashioned storytelling, combined with social graces that contradicted her strong viewpoints on War, colonisation and Empire. It is ironic that such a strong woman felt the need to publish 'Out Of Africa' under the disguise of a male name.
Blixen's intense love for Denys - a local hunter, mixed with the deep affection she holds for her servant combine with her vibrant love of Africa to make this recollection a beautiful and moving one. This is probably one of the best works of travel writing, setting a precedent for authors such as Francis Mayes etc. ...Well worth a read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Baroness Karen Blixen --a.k.a. Isaac Dinesen-- had a farm in Africa, and on that farm the wide-eyed Danish émigrée lived her best years, the years of vivid memory, out of which she was to live and breathe and write for the rest of her life. In Africa she married, ran a coffee plantation, met "the dark races," got syphilis, and fell in love. These events shaped the fiction she was to write later, when she returned home to Denmark after the coffee farm foundered, a casualty of faulty administration and just plain bad luck.

An exile in her own country, the reluctant repatriate poured her heart into "Out of Africa." The book is unsurpassed for an atmosphere of heart-wrenching bereavement, yet serene resignation. Here is Eve after the Fall --the taste of apple lingering in her mouth-- groping to restore with words her Paradise lost. Here the storyteller weaves a tapestry of lean, vast landscapes simmering under the equatorial sun; of races worlds apart living in precarious peace; of friends --black and white--; of love; of heartbreak, and of loss.

"Out of Africa" is Isaac Dinesen's superb act of creation by recollection, a Paradise Restored you will often want to come back to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romanticsm, in African colours 1 Jun 2009
By Peter Buckley VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The book was purposefully written as a picture of Kenya as it was, it is not an autobiography as such. The writing style of the book is clearly influenced by Isak Dinesen's first language, Danish, and therefore has a magical air that is thoughly enjoyable. To quote a passage near the close of the book, when she has to leave the farm..'when in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them. Circumstances can have a motive force by which they bring about events without aid of human imagination or apprehension. On such occasions you yourself keep in touch with what is going on by attentively following it from moment to moment, like a blind person who is being led, and who places one foot in front of the other cautiously but unwittingly. Things are happening to you, and you feel them happening, but except for this one fact, you have no connection with them, and no key to the cause and meaning of them. The performing wild animals in a circus go through their programme, I believe, in that same way. Those who have been through such events, can, in a way, say that they have been through death, a passage outside the range of imagination, but within the range of experience.'
Who could put such feelings into words? When writing trancends time and place, and illuminates our common human experience, this is when we know we have experienced great writing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Satisfied
Published 8 days ago by Jacqueline
2.0 out of 5 stars was expecting a similar story to the film... it wasnt
i didnt like the story at all, too much poitics, and gory bits on the lion hunt and shooting parties.
Published 2 months ago by minerva`s-owl
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the film, the book is a bit different
I so loved the film that it made me want to visit Karen Blixen's house when I visited Nairobi. I thought I'd buy the book at the airport or even at the Karen Blixen museum. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Woman
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of interest
Sorry. Whether I tried to read it when I was too busy or too tired I don't know. Found it quite dull although I have to say I didn't get very far. Read more
Published 7 months ago by sukey-em
4.0 out of 5 stars An African enigma
The author is probably the most enigmatic character I have ever encountered. The absolutely superb film "Out of Africa" whetted my appetite, and I expected the book to... Read more
Published 8 months ago by E H J Gould
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a gift
Bought for my sister as it's on her wishlist. Was used, but in immaculate condition, so I'm obviously happy with that. Fairly quick delivery.
Published 8 months ago by Rebecca
2.0 out of 5 stars couldn't get past page 1
Having loved the movie I thought this would be a great read but unfortunately it didn't grip me at all. I couldn't get past the first few pages of it. But that's personal taste. Read more
Published 10 months ago by sara
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic
You can almost smell the African earth and hear the African sounds as you read this classic that takes you back into the old colonial era of Kenya.
Published 11 months ago by ANDREA H. STANLEY
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the movie
An extraordinary work of sheer genious. This woman took fantasy and fiction and wove it into possibly
the finest book on Colonial Africa. Read more
Published 12 months ago by D. Stewart
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of Africa
A great read. Entertaining. A look into the life of
a remarkable lady who lived in a colourful society
and a colourful country.
Published 15 months ago by tio girl
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