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Out Of Africa Is Isak Dinesen S Memoir Of Her Years In Africa, From To , On A Four Thousand Acre Coffee Plantation In The Hills Near Nairobi She Had Come To Kenya From Denmark With Her Husband, And When They Separated She Stayed On To Manage The Farm By Herself, Visited Frequently By Her Lover, The Big Game Hunter Denys Finch Hatton, For Whom She Would Make Up Stories Like Scheherazade In Africa, I Learned How To Tell Tales, She Recalled Many Years Later The Natives Have An Ear Still I Told Stories Constantly To Them, All Kinds Her Account Of Her African Adventures, Written After She Had Lost Her Beloved Farm And Returned To Denmark, Is That Of A Master Storyteller, A Woman Whom John Updike Called One Of The Most Picturesque And Flamboyant Literary Personalities Of The Century 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. Up in this air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought Here I am, where I ought to be Karen Blixen in 1913 Her whole life was before her.When Karen Blixen married her second cousin Baron Bror Blixen Finecke in 1914 and followed along as a devoted wife should to help him run a coffee plantation in Kenya, I m sure she had an idea of what her life was to be, but the story of our lives generally deviates from the perceptions our youthful fancies conceive Her marriage was in shambles Her husband proved a poor manager of the farm, and his sexual indiscretions had left her with a parting gift of a case of syphilis She let him live, which was touch and go, booted him off the farm, and took over the management of the Kenyan farming enterprise Baroness Blixen kept her title though Most people would have, given the nature of these events, thrown in the towel and made their way back to Denmark, battered and bruised and hoped that people had short memories of them ever being gone, but Blixen was made of sterner stuff She decided she was going to turn this series of unfortunate events into a triumph, and for a decade and a half she did just that She created an oasis for her friends to visitTo the great wanderers amongst my friends, the farm owed its charm, I believe, to the fact that it was stationary and remained the same whenever they came to it They 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 Africa I had been on the farm longing to get away, and they came back to it longing for books and linen sheets, and the cool atmosphere in a big shuttered roomI can imagine the thrill that they must have felt when they first spotted the red roof of her house and knew that they were about to step out of Africa and back into Europe for an evening of discourse, food, and wine She collected an eclectic group of friends, mostly lost Europeans who escaped to Africa from something or came in search of themselves None made a bigger impression on her than Denys Finch Hatton played by Robert Redford in the movieHe would have cut a figure in any age, for he was an athlete, a musician, a lover of art and a fine sportsman He did cut a figure in his own age, but he did not quite fit in anywhere His friends in England always wanted him to come back, they wrote out plans and schemes for a career for him there, but Africa was keeping himDenys Finch HattonI certainly understand the dilemma of being a person out of time I believe I ve been born into one of the most boring eras ever in the history of the world Fortunately for me, I have the ability to time travel and escape this world at will by simply opening the pages of a book By the way, I ve just returned from an expedition to a coffee plantation circa 1925 in Kenya where I drank wine with Baroness Blixen, listened to the lions roar, and luxuriated in the stillness that follows on the heels of such a proclamation of dominance There is the moment when Blixen witnessed giraffes being loaded on a ship to be sent to HamburgThey could only just have room to stand in the narrow case The world had suddenly shrunk, changed and closed around them.They could not know or imagine the degradation to which they were sailing For they were proud and innocent creatures, gentle amblers of the great plains they had not the least knowledge of captivity, cold, stench, smoke, and mange, nor of the terrible boredom in the world in which nothing is ever happening Will they dream of their country Do I wish that they can Or do I hope they forget the freedom they once had I ve been to several zoos in my lifetime, and someone will have to hold a very large gun to my head to ever have me set foot in one again When I go to a zoo, I don t see the majestic animals or their beautiful fur or the pretty colors of their plumage All I see is a deadness in their eyes, an accusation of, how can you do this to me How can you let these smelly, noisy creatures mock me, yell at me, rattle my cage, and stare at me when they should be bowing their heads in reverence So do you free the giraffes and watch them gallop away Do you shoot them in their alien looking heads so they die free Or do you do what we all generally do in such circumstances, which is to watch them be hauled away in chains We think about the sadness of it and then move our thoughts on to something else Blixen experienced the typical problems that afflict farmers everywhere, which is Mother Nature not cooperating Drought One year the long rains failed.That is a terrible, tremendous experience, and the farmer who has lived through it will never forget it Years afterwards, away from Africa, in the wet climate of a Northern country, he will start up at night, at the sound of a sudden shower of rain, and cry, At last, at last My father is a farmer, and though I ve never seen him do a jig, there was one year, after months of drought, that a gully washer appeared over the horizon and dropped four inches of precious rain on us His smile looked like he was capable of just about any expression of joy, even dancing, in that moment when the first drops began to fall Karen Blixen showing some of the elegance her visitors in Kenya must have enjoyed.Drought, grasshopper plague, and being situated too high in altitude for coffee beans to grow as well as they should, all contributed to the final demise of the Blixen Kenyan farm In 1931, the place was sold, and she moved back to Denmark There was probably relief for a while from the stress and strain of the daily trials and tribulations of keeping a farm in working order, but I m sure, within a matter of months and maybe even weeks, she felt the loss of her home as astutely as those giraffes missed their home from their cage in Hamburg The only way she could return to it was to write about it With pen in hand, her blood could move a bit briskly about her body, her hands could remember the labor, and her mind could sift back through those conversations she had with the people she cared the most about Highly Recommended If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at 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 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.