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Out of Africa (Penguin Essentials) Paperback – 7 Apr 2011


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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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A.K. on 9 July 2002
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 on 15 Jan 2001
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 on 19 Dec 1996
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 By Peter Buckley VINE VOICE on 1 Jun 2009
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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