Customer Review

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Immortal Story and Others, November 7, 2008
This review is from: Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard (Paperback)
It's a fact that the best stories of all are those that nowadays are told mainly to children. No grown-up author would dare to invent a story like "The Snow Queen", "Thumbelina" or "Beauty and the Beast", and few would be able to.
If any writer comes close to the unforced magic of those stories no-one ever had to write, it must be Isak Dinesen. Sadly her output of fiction was small: this book, "Seven Gothic Tales", "Winter's Tales", "Last Tales", and her novel, the curious "Angelic Avengers", not quite a parody but not exactly serious, an entire book written in inverted commas.

Is there such a thing as Destiny? Do our intertwining lives somehow form a pattern like an inconceivably vast parquet-floor? Looking around I'm forced to say, No. But the creators of the "Arabian Nights" thought so, and Karen Blixen, at least when she turned into Isak Dinesen, clearly agreed with them, or tried to. Perhaps that's why she liked to dwell in the past, usually the late 18th or early 19th centuries, when it still seemed credible that a life might form an intricate shape, as if poured into a mould.

These stories are conceived and executed with a skill as dazzling as lightning and as quiet as summer grass. You feel she could amaze the reader far more if she chose, but that her profound courtesy prevents her. When she pauses for a moment to explain how her characters feel or why they react the way they do, she tells you things so piercingly correct that you feel almost shocked. At the bottom of these stories is a mystery that is not at all philosophical, a sadness that is not tragic, a poetry not made up of beautiful words, and a wisdom like that of a child who says things that she herself doesn't understand.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 19, 2010 8:33:51 PM PDT
Beautifully written, and wise. Please write more.

Posted on Dec 3, 2010 10:00:41 PM PST
Natasha says:
Nice review, but I feel it necessary to point out that "Thumbelina" and "The Snow Queen" were written by Hans Christian Anderson. Anderson was a genius of a rare kind and you are correct that most people cannot write fairy tales like that.

Posted on Aug 21, 2011 7:50:06 AM PDT
Pie Grrrl says:
One of the most eloquent reviews I've EVER read!
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Lawrence
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Location: Christchurch NZ

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