- Also check our best rated Travel Book reviews
Out of Africa (Modern Library) Hardcover – 30 Jun 1997
|New from||Used from|
Audio Download, Unabridged
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Compelling...a story of passion...and a movingly poetic tribute to a lost land (The Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
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 beautiful.
The Random House colophon made its debut in February 1927 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 today.
This edition is set from the first American edition of 1937 and commemorates theseventy-fifth anniversary of Random House.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The story is essentially a recollection of a life spent on an African farm. There is fantastic detail of landscape, tribal rituals and history. There is an intelligent account of the clash of western sand African culture, both on the farm and, later, the wider context of a world war.
The personal accounts of friendship, adventure, discovery and struggle are mesmiringly expressed. The writing has a tone of diary that brings real emotion to tales of warmth, struggle or tragedy. However, there is simply not enough of it.
The book read as if it were a series of memories recalled and then placed in chronological order to form a large chunk of the early narrative. This is reinforced the fact that the latter part of the book contains shorter stories, perhaps nuggets that couldn't properly be woven into the fabric of the wider story.
A good read for anyone looking for something between diary and travelogue or ideal for readers looking to rekindle memories of an African trip or perhaps childhood. For me, the book didn't hang together well enough: a pleasant read rather than a great one.
Karen and Bror Blixen moved to what was then known as British East Africa, today Kenya, in 1913; their original plan was to raise dairy cattle, but instead developed their land as a coffee plantation. The book recounts her life as a coffee grower between 1913 and 1931, when the Great Depression and falling coffee prices forced her to sell and return to Denmark. The title is derived from the old Latin tag “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi”, which translates as “There is always something new out of Africa.”
“Out of Africa” is not an “autobiography” in the normal sense of that word. There is nothing about Blixen’s life in Danmark before moving to Africa, and precious little about her life after leaving. Bror is virtually written out of her life. (The marriage was not a happy one and ended in divorce). It is rather a memoir of her life in Africa, with little linear chronological structure, except towards the end when she describes the events which led to her leaving her farm. She describes her life on her coffee plantation, the landscapes and wildlife of Kenya and some of the people she knew there. These include Finch-Hatton, Berkeley Cole, another leading colonist, and an eccentric Danish fisherman known as “Old Knudsen”.
Not all her friends and acquaintances, however, were Europeans. Blixen also writes about her relationships with Africans, many of whom she saw as friends. In some ways she stood outside the mainstream of British colonial society. This was partly, of course, because she was not British by birth. The First World War broke out not long after her arrival in the colony, and as a citizen of a neutral country she came under some suspicion, particularly as she was a friend of the German commander in East Africa, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. Even after the war, however, her attitude to Africans tended to set her apart.
Blixen has come under some criticism from other reviewers for her allegedly racist view of Africans, or Natives as she refers to them. Certainly, she can at times be guilty of over-generalising and tending to assume that all Africans share the same characteristics, and these generalisations can at times sound patronising. Particularly so is her comparison of Africans to nine-year-old children. (This theory is not contained in “Out of Africa” itself but in “Shadows on the Grass”, a set of essays about her Kenyan experiences written towards the end of her life, and published as an appendix in this volume. It seems strange to come across this sort of attitude in an essay first published as late as 1960, only a few years before Kenyan independence).
She can, however, generalise about Europeans as well; a common formula in her writing is something along the lines of “The Natives on the one hand are like this, the Europeans on the other are like that”. It should be borne in mind, however, that she was living in a colonialist society where racist attitudes were deeply ingrained. She might have generalised about African cultures, but at least she did take a genuine interest in them, unlike most British settlers who took no interest in Africans at all except as servants and labourers. Her desire to contrast Africans and Europeans in this way seems to be connected with one of her favourite concepts, the way in which two complementary opposites can come together to form what she calls a “Unity”. Moreover, some Africans do emerge from her writing as genuine individuals in their own right, especially her Somali major-domo Farah Aden, who, it is clear, also became a close friend, her cook Kamante and the local chieftain Kinanjui,
Blixen writes in a lyrical, poetic style, if perhaps rather less ornate than the one she was to use in some of her later fictions such as “Winter’s Tales”. Her opening paragraph is a good example:-
"I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold."
The lyricism of her prose helps Blixen to express her great passion, her love for her land. She loved her farm for far more than its monetary value- the altitude was not ideal for coffee and she never made a great fortune from it- and her enforced departure from the country was clearly a traumatic experience. Her love also encompassed the animals who lived on the land, despite her keenness on hunting, and also its human inhabitants, whom she saw as forming a Unity with the land. Or as she herself put it:-
“Noble found I ever the native, and insipid the immigrant”.
“Out of Africa” may chronicle a now vanished era in Africa’s history; it may enshrine some dated attitudes. Yet its author’s passions still have the power to touch us, nearly eighty years since it was first published in 1937.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews