Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Seven Gothic Tales” as Want to Read:
Seven Gothic Tales
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Seven Gothic Tales

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,817 ratings  ·  127 reviews
Originally published in 1934, Seven Gothic Tales, the first book by "one of the finest and most singular artists of our time" (The Atlantic), is a modern classic. Here are seven exquisite tales combining the keen psychological insight characteristic of the modern short story with the haunting mystery of the nineteenth-century Gothic tale, in the tradition of writers such a ...more
Published (first published January 1st 1934)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Seven Gothic Tales, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Seven Gothic Tales

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
1. The first story, "The Deluge at Norderney," proceeds largely by way of monologues. It is set in the 1830s at a resort island off the northern coast of Germany, Norderney. A once in a hundred years storm occurs which requires the evacuation of the spa and surrounding farmsteads. Eventually we find ourselves with four characters in the loft of a farmhouse where they must await rescue with the water ever rising. Will they survive until morning when a boat is expected to rescue them? It is in thi ...more
“But as to names and places, and the conditions in the countries which it all took place, and which may seem very strange to you, I will give you no explanation. You must take in whatever you can, and leave the rest outside. It is not a bad thing in a tale that you understand only half of it.”
- Dinesen, “The Dreamers”

This is the attitude with which one must approach the stories of Isak Dinesen. It’s that or you’re never going to finish this book. As several of her characters protest to us: “To
There is no other writer quite like Karen Blixen. Publishing under the pseudonym of Isak Dinesen, her reputation rests mostly on her on famous memoir Out of Africa and several books of elegantly-written, enigmatic stories. As a Dane writing in English, her prose has a formal, somewhat mannered, tone. The stories themselves are beautiful and strange, like fairy tales for grownups.

Blixen’s first book of stories Seven Gothic Tales was published in 1934. The author does not use the term ‘Gothic’ in
These tales are like nothing I have read before. Isak Dinessen’s – nom de plume of Karen Blixen – narration feels like a walk through a labyrinth, where the unfolding story thread makes sharp turns, leads us into dead ends and dark corners, until finally we emerge on the other side a bit unsure of the place we have been. Like in a dream, one story merges into another, taking us along into deeper realms. And, with hypnotic powers, the narrator’s voice enchants and enslaves us.

I absolutely loved
Dineson really writes like no one else.. not even her worthy heirs like Angela Carter or Rikki Ducornet..or those she inherited from like Potocki or E.T.A. Hoffmann..simplely some of the most otherwordly and beautiful writing in the world. Words fail me.
Jul 06, 2010 Miriam marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have had this book out from the library for several weeks, but every time I open it, the phone rings. I think it is cursed.
Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) has been a very difficult read for me. Gothic novels are not, by rights, my usual reading fare but I was drawn to this book by the very intriguing Introduction written by Dorothy Canfield. So, I grabbed it right up at the Friends of the Library Booksale. And then, when I gave into temptation and signed up for the Gothic Reading Challenge, it seemed only natural to add this one to the list. My goodness, I didn't know what I was letting myself in f ...more
Traveling alone in a strange country, as you pass through a dark pine woods, you see an abandoned, half-ruined castle through the trees. Entering it, and walking through hallways hung with faded crimson and paved with black marble, you catch a glimpse of yourself in a tarnished mirror. But another face looks back at you, skeletal. In a great hall, upon a stage, tattered golden curtains are drawn back and many-coloured marionettes come forward. The story has begun. This is the world of Isak Dines ...more
Anne Nikoline
Jul 26, 2015 Anne Nikoline rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gothic lit. readers
Recommended to Anne Nikoline by: no one
I absolutely adore Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen); her writing is delicate and vivid, and do not get me started on her "Out of Africa", but I must say that even though I have been meaning to read "Seven Gothic Tales" forever, it was nothing like "Out of Africa" in any way. The writing was different, less vivid and the majestic pictures Blixen paints with her words seemed like watercolour; hardly visible on the paper.

“People love to be frightened. The great princes, fed up with the sweets of life,
Eduarda Sampaio
Sete Narrativas Góticas não é um livro de leitura fácil. A escrita de Karen Blixen é bela e requintada como sempre, mas aqui ela vem carregada de descrições que por vezes parecem excessivas. A atmosfera é pesada e sombria. Os personagens contam histórias a outros personagens e dentro dessas histórias outras histórias são contadas. O leitor é jogado dentro de um labirinto narrativo e frequentemente esquece por onde entrou, muitas vezes chegando ao final de conto sem compreender o seu propósito.

Who has not been charmed and haunted by the opening line of Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa: “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong hills…”? That was the only work of Dinesen (the pseudonym of Karen Blixen) that I had previously read, and I was interested to read her earlier work, Seven Gothic Tales, which has long languished on my bookshelf. The latter is a collection of several long short stories, or short novellas, each with a surprising and even disconcerting twist. Each is well writ ...more
I wanted to like this collection a lot, since Winter's Tales made such an impression on me. Alas, these stories didn't appeal to me as much. The writing was still excellent, yes, though I took great issue with the passage in "The Monkey" where Boris thinks that women hate the sea. From her writing you can tell that Dinesen loves the sea - why would she write such a passage? Maybe I will find a reason to reconcile those blasphemous words. The ending of "The Old Chevalier" was legitimately creepy, ...more
Difficult book to review. Well written, smart, labored. Not my turf though. Some stories are better than others, of course. The last one, particularly, "The Poet", I found quite interesting - a somber tale about age, talent, frustration, power. But the whole set is a sort of anachronistic "Hoffmanesque" effort that sounds quite artificial when one sees it was written way into the 20th century. It is like composing a Beethoven concerto in 1900 (if anyone thought about Rachmaninoff that was the id ...more
Each tale is like a polished jewel, very gothic and yet very modern at the same time, and much food for thought. 'The Supper at Elsinore' I enjoyed the most. I finished the book late last night, with a bottle of red wine, in front of the fire, in an empty house (S is off on a field trip), before going to bed.
Exotic, baroque, fantastic... Dinesen's voice is unmistakable and distinct. Fate plays a major role in these tales. Her prose is eloquent -- these stories stay with the reader for a long, long time.
Birgit Alsinger
Far too gothic for me, I loved "Babettes Feast" and "Out of Africa" but these seven story were really, really hard to finish, found my thoughts drifting away all the time.
Karen Margrethe
With all these seven tales, in gothic style, she explores the human nature and character, fate, love, faith, observations about the contemporary society, beauty, the inevitable transitory mortal frames of human life, vanitas symbols, womanhood, norms, gender role and simply human roles in general.
In an artistic way, she is commenting on society and mankind.

Her writing and narrative style is as peculiar and otherwordly as it is genius, as was her life style and character in real life. She has be
Cody VC
3.5 stars. stand-outs were 'the old chevalier,' 'the roads round pisa,' and 'the poet.' honorable mention to 'the deluge at norderny.' reading these was a bit like looking through an old photo album where the people look familiar but their names are gone, and you wish you could talk with them because with faces like those they must have led interesting lives--only here you can talk with them, and they've got almost too many names for you to remember and each story they tell is taller than the la ...more
I read the first four stories in Isak Dinesen’s Seven Gothic Tales several years ago. I have no idea why I then put the book aside, since I liked those stories quite a bit. I’ve now read the last three tales, and I’m even more impressed. Isak Dinesen is probably better known today under her real name, Karen Blixen, thanks to the success of the movie version of her book Out of Africa. Seven Gothic Tales, published in 1934 when she was 49 years old, was her first book. Oddly enough, although she w ...more
I suspect that this is a book I will have to re-read in the future. I had to put it down many times just to try and remember all the twisting and turning threads that spilled over from one story to another. Don't be mislead by the title - this isn't simply seven gothic yarns but rather a great coiling mass of tales coiled up upon one another. As soon as you are consumed by one you will find yourself chewed up and spat out by others. Tales within tales within tales within tales - it can be a litt ...more
Any book that feels like it was "worth it in the end" isn't a good read during the actual reading. This was too layered for my taste: inset stories were everywhere; extraneous details and plots made my head spin; melodrama abounded. Potentially, these are hall,arks of the era in which Dinesen (Karen Blixen, she of _Out of Africa_ fame) was writing.
Am I glad I read it? Do I feel accomplished? Sure. Would I have been able to complete it on my own, if I didn't have a grade and a discussion for cla
Read the first two stories before giving up. Enjoyed neither on any level. Too dense, nothing happens but flashbacks, and those flashbacks are, I assume, not true. Its just people telling each other embroidered stories of past loves or adventures. The language also seemed repetitive, which is why I didn't stop after one story. Forced a second, just to see if it would be different - it was not. Same theme, felt like same characters, telling stories of the same type made up events.

I started 'Out o
Me lo aspettavo più *gotico*, ma spesso l'aggettivo è destinato solo all'ambientazione. Ho avuto l'impressione che alcuni racconti non avessero un senso compiuto. Altri hanno talmente tante deviazioni dal corso del racconto principale che si finisce per perderne il filo. In una delle storie (forse la migliore tra le 7) la Blixen fa dire ad un suo personaggio *non è un cattivo segno per una storia, se la si capisce soltanto a metà*. Ecco, io non so se sia vero, e non sono sicuro di averne capito ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Esperimento di stile a mio gusto non riuscito: atmosfera "gotica" zero e contenuti delle storie inesistenti.
Alan Caramatti
I read the first three stories and glossed the fourth. What I enjoyed about the stories I read was the feeling that I was peering into the values and thought-patterns of people from the 1700s and 1800s, while safely being catered to by a modern-day author's use of our language. There's some enjoyable use of the English language here, but for my taste, the stories wandered too much. I got bored and quit.
This may be my favorite book. Dinesen has an unparalleled imagination that keeps the reader's boredom at bay through all seven stories. Many of the seven stories had a twist ending, something that I didn't necessarily feel they needed to be good but it convinced me of Dinesen's artistry. What I found most charming about her writing style, however, was the metaphysical musings sprinkled throughout.
Looking at the other reviews here, I feel like I failed some kind of test. I'm not sure what happened, but when I was reading this I had the attention span of a toddler on ten cans of Red Bull. The writing did nothing did nothing to draw me in.

I just found it very...cold for lack of a better word. I might try again some other time.

Actually I only read one of the short stories in this book which is called "The monkey", but as it was not published separately, I thought I'd add the whole thing.

I doubt, that I'll read the complete book any time soon, though - I didn't particulary like "The Monkey"...
très inégal, je n'ai pas réussi à aller au bout de certains contes, l'écriture m'a ennuyé, mais quand même de beaux passages qui transmettent bien une atmosphère particulière que certains considéreront peut-être comme gothique (pas évident pour ma part...)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Gogol's Wife and Other Stories
  • I, etcetera
  • The Oranging of America and Other Stories
  • I Would Have Saved Them If I Could
  • The Blood Oranges
  • The Collected Stories of Peter Taylor
  • Nog
  • Falling in Place
  • Kaspar and Other Plays
  • Advertisements for Myself
  • The World Within the Word
  • The Changeling
  • The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales
  • Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952
  • The Little Disturbances of Man
  • The Writer on Her Work
  • The Coup
  • Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories
Karen Christence Dinesen, Baroness Blixen-Finecke - wrote as Isak Dinesen, Pierre Andrézel, other pseudonyms: Tania Blixen, Osceola, etc.
A Danish writer, who mixed in her work supernatural elements, aestheticism, and erotic undertones with an aristocratic view of life, Blixen always emphasized that she was a storyteller in the traditional, oral sense of the word. She drew her inspiration from the
More about Karen Blixen...
Out of Africa Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass Winter's Tales Babette's Feast Babette's Feast & Other Anecdotes of Destiny

Share This Book

“Do you know a cure for me?"

Why yes," he said, "I know a cure for everything. Salt water."

Salt water?" I asked him.

Yes," he said, "in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.”
“The real difference between God and human beings, he thought, was that God cannot stand continuance. No sooner has he created a season of a year, or a time of the day, than he wishes for something quite different, and sweeps it all away. No sooner was one a young man, and happy at that, than the nature of things would rush one into marriage, martyrdom or old age. And human beings cleave to the existing state of things. All their lives they are striving to hold the moment fast....Their art itself is nothing but the attempt to catch by all means the one particular moment, one light, the momentary beauty of one woman or one flower, and make it everlasting.” 27 likes
More quotes…