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Out of Africa (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – September 27, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (September 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141183330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183336
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ISAK DINESEN was the pen-name of Karen Blixen, who 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 went to Kenya to manage a coffee plantation. After their divorce in 1921, she continued to run the plantation until a collapse in the coffee market forced her back to Denmark 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 her pen-name. Out of Africa (1937) is an autobiographical account of the years she spent in Kenya. Most of her subsequent books were published in English and Danish simultaneously, including Winter's Tales (1942) and The Angelic Avengers (1946), under the name of Pierre Andrezol. Among her other collections of stories are Last Tales (1957), Anecdotes of Destiny (1958), Shadows on the Grass (1960) and Ehrengard (1963). All of these books are published by Penguin. Baroness Blixen died in Rungsted in 1962.

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Customer Reviews

Dinesen's writing is beautiful.
kathleen Farley
As others have said, this is a love story, not between two people but between Blixen and Africa.
Kevin W. Parker
I would recommend this book to anyone who knows how to read!
Jennifer Cassone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 87 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on February 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Isak Dinesen, nee Karen Blixen, lived in East Africa for almost twenty years making a living as the proprietor of a coffee plantation. Out of Africa is a memoir of her experiences there. But the book is so much more.

The stories are interesting to be sure. They relate to the plantation or the people and events that one way or another impacted her life there. But it is Blixen's writing that I found so sublime. I have never read anything like it. The way Blixen turns a phrase is both lyrical and enchanting all at once - you become literally swept up in the words and imagery. It is obvious that Blixen loved Africa - something about the continent got under her skin. In a similar fashion her words have gotten under mine. I have read Out of Africa several times; each time I marvel at the beautiful language she uses. Read this book and I am sure you will feel the same way.
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Karen Sampson Hudson on August 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) has been elevated to star status by the feminists for her independent stance and courage, but don't read this book because of that. Don't look for the tragic story of her misguided marriage and the heartbreak and barrenness it brought her, or for descriptions of her love affair with adventurer Denys Finch-Hatton. None of that appears here.
Instead, "Out of Africa" is a storytelling book woven in the imaginative Danish style. Dinesen's finely tuned sensitivity is revealed here, as well as her (again typically Danish) well-developed gift for friendship with many kinds of people. In her case this gift extends to African animals as well, like Lulu, the beautiful gazelle who graced her plantation for years.

Her descriptions of the Kenya of her day are exquisitely written, factual and magical at the same time. Africa is the star of the book, not Dinesen herself, not the tribespeople or the colonials, not her struggles with raising coffee in land "a little too high", nor her political dealings with the government officials. Her writing evokes the Africa she knew well and loved deeply.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Forget the movie and read the book instead. Isak Dinesen's love for Africa and her adopted homeland shines through every page as she helps us to vicariously experience like on a Kenyan farm. The book is loosely plotted and Dinesen is not shy about expressing her personal views, so expect some opinionated writing from this lady. She doesn't romanticize Africa, as many writers do. She tells it like it is, which is great, as far as I'm concerned. If you're looking for King Solomon's Mines, foget it, but if you have any interest in Africa, past or present, you're sure to like this book.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cassone on August 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Out of Africa is an literary accomplishment that will remain in history as portraying Africa as it really was in that era. Karen Blixen was so in touch with the native tribes of Kenya. Her deep respect for their customs and lives is obvious in this book, which wasn't common then among the new European settlers. The way that her fascinating stories unfold is remarkable, making long hours of the night spent trying to put the book down without success.
I saw Out of Africa as a child, and read the book in college, which inspired me to go to Kenya when I graduated. I visited the land that Karen Blixen donated upon her departure from Kenya, which was turned into a town named "Karen", and her home and everything in it have been preserved, down to the lantern she would leave on for Finch-Hatton. Still today the town's people speak of Karen Blixen in great admiration, perhaps giving back what she unconditionally gave to them.
I would recommend this book to anyone who knows how to read!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
Karen Blixen (Isac Dinesen) is one of Denmarks best writers. Out of Africa is her main book that tells the story of her life in Africa. Read the book it is much more than the loveaffair with Dennys Finck-Hatton (Out of Africa with R. Redford and M. Streep)
The book gives a wonderfull picture of Blixens relationship with the natives and have that ancient athmosphere that appears in all colonial litterature.
Read the book it gives a picture of a vere strong woman who knew what she wanted but again and again had to compromise according to her life and the oppotunities it gave her.
The book is one of my favourits because it has got everything. Love, death, hope, history, feminism, nature, africa.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ducky on January 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I decided to read this book because in the book "Catcher in the Rye," Holden says that he "wouldn't mind calling this Isak Dinesen up." So anyway, I agree with him for the most part, and there's no doubt that Baroness Blixen would have some interesting stories to tell over the dinner table. However, the book Out of Africa is a bit less enjoyable than a one on one chat, and her descriptions in general are pretty objective. There were two main things that bothered me:

-Much of the beginning of the book is a sort of 'how Europeans are different than Africans.' I understand that her second class treatment of the natives was an accepted attitude of the time, but it seems that her observations about race take up a goodly chunk of her book.

-Another thing that irked me was that she quotes many secondary sources in the book, and many of them she doesn't translate into English. I unfortunately don't speak either French or German, and so I wasn't able to interpret much of the poetry and references she included.

Aside from those two things, the book is still an interesting, albeit occasionally slow, read. It was hard to really connect with her at the beginning, because she seems to view herself as some kind of high and mighty princess, and I just wasn't that insterested in her point of view. However, I think as the book progresses she opens up more about her own life, and you really start to understand how much she truly loves Africa, her workers, and the farm that she poured her heart into. She tells about the people she befriends and their adventures and quirks. She also does an amazing job describing the African scenery. I'd reccommend it, but keep in mind that it starts off slow.
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