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Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard Paperback – June 1, 1993

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These two collections of Dinesen's tales feature her signature gothic style and romantic subject matter.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Dinesen's stories are the work of a writer with a powerful imagination and a shrewd intelligence." -- The New York Times Book Review

In the classic "Babette's Feast," a mysterious Frenchwoman prepares a sumptuous feast for a gathering of religious ascetics and, in doing so, introduces them to the true essence of grace. In "The Immortal Story," a miserly old tea-trader living in Canton wishes for power and finds redemption as he turns an oft-told sailors' tale into reality for a young man and woman. And in the magnificent novella Ehrengard, Dinesen tells of the powerful yet restrained rapport between a noble Wagnerian beauty and a rakish artist.

Hauntingly evoked and sensuously realized, the five stories and novella collected here have the hold of "fairy stories read in childhood...of dreams...and of our life as dreams" (The New York Times).

"[Dinesen's] imagination could visit, it seemed, any corner of European history and find there a tale tinged with the luster and vivid shadowing of medieval allegory." -- John Updike
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679743332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743330
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard for one story included in it. That is Babette's Feast. In this story two Norwegian sisters, leaders of a small Lutheran sect, who take in a French refugee as a cook and housekeeper. For Years Babette tends their home and cooks their meals to their liking. One day Babette learns that she has won the national lottery. Because the dangers have past in revolutionary France, the sisters expect her to move back home. Babette asks the sisters to allow her to provide a full course French meal for them before she leaves. They reluctantly agree, and soon boxes and crates and exotic ingredients start to arrive at the house, including a live turtle. I won't give away the ending, which has an O'Henry twist to it. Whenever I am asked to list my favorite books, Babette's Feast is near the top. It is a story of people of two vastly different cultures giving to each other in their own way. A great story.
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Format: Paperback
The stories in this book are completely in line with all her other works. Absolutely amazing! I highly recommend it to both newcomers and people who have already taken an interest in this author. But beware! Once you start reading the fantastic stories from this lady, you will want more.
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Format: Kindle Edition
People who think writers like Aimee Bender and Kelly Link are as good as it gets need to read these stories by Isak Dinesen, the godmother of perverse romanticism. Allusive, lyrical, throat-punching, era-distorting fiction with its own brand of self-aware humor and dark childishness.
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Format: Paperback
This volume contains Babette's Feast which is the basis for the Oscar winning movie of the same name. A simple, beautifully told story of love and redention.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Truth is that Isak Dinesen's average writing is heads above the crowd but if you have read "Out of Africa" and it's sequel "Shadows on the Grass" about her life in Africa then you have experienced truly inspired and exceptional writing of which I have never found a parallel. If you haven't read "Out of Africa" yet then read this first and you will be well pleased with her writing. Then get a hard cover version of "Out of Africa" (you will want to read and reread this magnificent example of truly inspired writing) and open it to the first page and slowly read - to allow the breadth of her writing to permeate and satisfy your minds desire for true beauty - as the book begins with, "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Some of the stories (for instance, "The Diver," "The Ring," "The Immortal Story," and of course especially "Babette's Feast," are little jewels of mystery and insight. Others read like shaggy dog stories. But then, nobody who writes as well as Blixen at her best can *always* write as well as Blixen at her best.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm really torn about the rating for this book. Isak Dinesen has such a beautiful style of writing, and all of the stories were engaging. However, the book had an overall sadness to it. Would it have hurt to write a story with a happy ending?

I would recommend reading it, especially if you like short stories. You can't really lose with Dinesen if you enjoy beautiful language. I'm looking forward to watching the movie 'Babette's Feast' now. It was my favorite story in the book.
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