Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass” as Want to Read:
Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,935 Ratings  ·  277 Reviews
Out of Africa tells the story of a farm that the narrator once had in Africa. The farm is located at the foot of the Ngong hills outside of Nairobi, in what is now Kenya. It sits at an altitude of six thousand feet. The farm grows coffee, although only part of its six thousand acres is used for agriculture. The remaining parts of the land are forest and space for the nativ ...more
Paperback, 462 pages
Published October 23rd 1989 by Vintage (first published 1937)
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 Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass

A Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonBlood River by Tim ButcherInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertInto Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Favourite Travel Books
30th out of 1,413 books — 3,183 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonPippi Longstocking by Astrid LindgrenThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonHunger by Knut Hamsun
Best Scandinavian and Nordic Literature
142nd out of 930 books — 950 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 02, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Karen Blixen (alias: Isak Dinesen, 1885-1962) has the ability to transport you to the early 20th century Africa. The Africa when there were still herds of zebras and elephants suddenly appearing in the clearing while you are planting or harvesting acres and acres of coffee. As I was leafing the pages of this book, I was doing the inhale-exhale that my wife normally tells me to do whenever we are spending a weekend in a resort far from the polluted Manila. "Inhale exhale. Chance to put fresh air ...more
BrokenTune
Dec 26, 2015 BrokenTune rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
"There is something strangely determinate and fatal about a single shot in the night. It is as if someone had cried a message to you in one word, and would not repeat it. I stood for some time wondering what it had meant. Nobody could aim at anything at this hour, and, to scare away something, a person would fire two shots or more."

There is some truly beautiful writing in this book.

When describing the land and the wildlife of Africa, Dinesen (i.e. Karen Blixen) truly shines as a writer and I can
...more
Chrissie
Aug 28, 2015 Chrissie rated it liked it

Out of Africa was first published in 1937, after the author's return to Denmark. Shadows on the Grass consists of four more essays. The first three were written in the 1950s and the last, titled 'Echoes from the Hills', was written in the 60s. They just add a few more details about events and characters mentioned in the original book.

The movie Out of Africa, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, was produced and directed by Sydney Pollack. It was based not only on Blixen's Out of Africa, but
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I didn't know what to expect. To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be a gross understatement. It is her love of Africa that comes through so clearly. I have no desire to go to Africa, but I could relate to her because she felt so at one with her chosen land. I underscored many passages, but it is this one - on page 2! - that decided I would love this forever.
Looking back on a sojourn in the African highlands, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air. The s
...more
blue-collar mind
Dec 25, 2007 blue-collar mind rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who love myth, epics and lyrical writing
Shelves: super-classics
I start with the famous paragraph:
"If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?"
I almost gasped when I
...more
Carol
Jun 12, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing
I cried four times while reading this book. For the beauty of the writing (fireflies), the sentiment (the zoo animals, lulu) and for gratitude that this woman existed and wrote these words down. It's my favorite type of writing - descriptive and evocative. She is able to make me feel like I am there with her. I think she noticed and felt so much that she had to be a writer.

I also admire her and how she lived her life. This was a strong woman who seemed to keep a sense of innocence that allowed
...more
Andrew
Oct 29, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
This is the volume to read because “Out of Africa” was written in 1937 about Dinesen’s time running her coffee plantation from 1913 to 1931. But “Shadows in the Grass” tells lots of small tales about the same characters in her life and was written decades later (in 1960) with small tales of cross-cultural experience – and some stories of what happened to people that she knew in Kenya.

Unlike her “gothic” and aristocratic style of fiction, these are down-to-earth and more like Hemingway in their c
...more
El
Having not seen the movie or read the book, but remembering hearing about the movie that Out of Africa is one of the greatest love stories ever told I went into the reading thinking just that. I was already picturing Meryl Streep and Robert Redford because of the popularity of the movie (though my movie tie-in copy of the book probably did not help).

It took me 70 pages to realize that there is no specific story here, that the book is Isak Dinesen's (pseudonym for Baroness Karen Blixen) memoirs o
...more
Abby
Apr 09, 2014 Abby rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) wrote this collection of memories from her time owning and operating a coffee farm in the Ngong Hills. If you're reading this expecting to see the script from Out of Africa, you'll be sorely disappointed. That was my initial expectation but I stuck with the book and as a result, feel like I have a much richer and more detailed picture of life in Kenya in the early 20th century.

Some readers have objected to Blixen's language and description of Kenyans and various triba
...more
Cecelia
Jan 24, 2013 Cecelia rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful book. I began reading it three years ago and set it aside in favor of lighter literature, but I resumed it this winter and found that the rich, unhurried prose soothed my spirits and carried me away. Reminiscent of Richard Llewllyn's "How Green Was My Valley", "O.O.A." is a work of love, a sensitive soul's lyrical tribute to a beloved landscape. The passages are often long and I found I needed more stamina than I'm used to in order to keep up with Dinesen's meandering's of m ...more
Joe Valdez
Jan 04, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gea Leigh Haff
Shelves: memoirs
Short of booking passage to Nairobi, reading this 1937 memoir of Danish author Karen Blixen (using the pen name Isak Dinesen) who arrived in East Africa in 1914 with her husband in a bid to grow coffee beans, is the next best thing. It might be even be more instructive than visiting Africa as a tourist, as Blixen's vivid and sensual writing makes you feel as if you've lived there.

The Blixens separated in 1921 and it's revealing that the author never mentions her ex-husband or touches on her pers
...more
Amelmag
Feb 04, 2015 Amelmag rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kenya-reading
"If I know a song of Africa . . . of the Giraffe, and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields, and the sweaty faces of the coffee-pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Would the air over the plain quiver with a colour that I had had on, or the children invent a game in which my name was, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or would the eagles of Ngong look out for me?" -Out of Africa

"The news of Farah's death to me was har
...more
Caroline
Aug 30, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
As many have, I began this book with the movie in mind. I had seen it a number of years ago and didn't remember much of it, but that the wonderful Meryl Streep and Robert Redford had roles in a movie of Africa. Still, I read the book as one looking for a narrative. Forgive me, all, but I do not usually enjoy reading memoirs in which everyone must pretend that they've lived a life any more spectacular than those that others have lived. Her descriptions were lovely, yes. I felt that I was in Afric ...more
Nicole
Jan 15, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it
I picked this book up after a few years of looking at it on my book shelf, and I had a hard time putting it down. The memoir is organized non-chronologically in a series of stories you can imagine the author telling guests over tea or a glass of wine later in life. The author's tone is at times uncomfortably elitist/arrogant, although I assume you need a very healthy amount of confidence to live the way she did in Africa. Learning her views on race and class in colonial Africa is one of the most ...more
Angela
Feb 19, 2008 Angela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
What a masterpiece. Out of Africa uses poetry for what is essentially a memoir, tells gently of human tragedies large and small, and records a lovely time that seems even to the author to be magical and impossible, yet it is nonfiction.

Isak Dinesen wrote in her second language - English, just as Josseph Conrad did. She used an assumed name, and even in life in her vanity she went by "Baroness Blixen," even though her marriage to the holder of that name was broken and his own claim to the title "
...more
Tereneh
Dec 01, 2013 Tereneh rated it liked it
The things I learned from reading this book: a spelling on how to say hello (male and female) in Maa (Kimaasai, Maasai language) and also putting to words the feeling I had seeing the beauty of the Maasai women with their shaved heads. As Blixen put it it was so overwhelmingly feminine that having hair seems brutish.

I was just 10 days in Olorgesailie in a mainly Maasai area, when I finished a book I gave it to the younger girls to keep so they could read and practice their English. I did not gi
...more
Bibliophile
A reread, and difficult to rate. Karen Blixen is a marvellous writer who led an interesting life, and this memoir contains absolutely beautiful imagery of Kenya. However, her viewpoint as the aristocratic landowner surrounded by "Natives" is hard to take. She may have been "pro-native", well-meaning and open-minded "for her times", but she was still part of an inherently racist colonialism, and approached the Kenyans as children she was obligated to care for. That she felt great affection for he ...more
Joana
Dec 13, 2015 Joana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apesar da péssima tradução é um excelente exemplar daquilo que são Narrativas de Viagens. Karen Blixen consegue através das suas descrições detalhadas transportar-nos para África em meados do século XX. Apesar de extenso e bastante descritivo é um livro leve e de leitura corrida.

Somos levados numa viagem até uma África simples e complexa. Uma viagem sensorial e quente onde a vida, a morte, o destino, a dor e a magia interligam-se profundamente.

Não posso afirmar que este livro deixou marcas visí
...more
Tracy
Sep 10, 2015 Tracy rated it it was ok
After visiting Karen Blixen's home in Kenya, I decided that I had to read this book, even though I did not like the movie that much. I don't even know how they got a movie out of this book. I might have liked it better if I had not read "Circling the Sun" so recently, but I did and this book pales in comparison. It just didn't do it for me.
Rowan
Jul 10, 2016 Rowan rated it really liked it
I reread this after having visited the site of Karen Blixen's farm near Nairobi. The writing is evocative and absolutely gorgeous, but there's a current of colonial-era era racism that you can't ignore.
Put A Sock In It
Sep 20, 2010 Put A Sock In It rated it it was amazing
"But the trouble is not as you think now, that we have put up obstacles too high for you to jump, and how could we possibly do that, you great leaper?"
Kt Thames
Mar 11, 2015 Kt Thames rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I have a very conflicted response to this book. It starts with two words on the upper left-hand corner of the back cover which describes the book as "NON-FICTION/LITERATURE." I never really got a good feel for what I was reading, although most of it seems to be autobiographical. Isak Dineson/Karen Blixen had a remarkable life and her writing can be quite lovely. Her love for Africa comes across clearly and inspires some of the best passages in the book. However, I couldn't help but cringe at som ...more
Tristan
Jul 22, 2014 Tristan rated it it was amazing
I loved both of these books. In Out of Africa, my favorite section was probably "From and Immigrant's Notebook", but the whole memoir was absolutely beautiful. My favorite episode in Shadows on the Grass was in "Farah" (I think) and is when Karen asks Farah to purchase cardamom and he has to search all over before finally buying far too much of the expensive spice than was needed, but makes it all turn out okay in the end. Dinesen's prose is absolutely gorgeous and just sings with beautiful desc ...more
Aron
Jun 14, 2014 Aron rated it it was ok
"Look, Msabu," he said, "this is a good book. It hangs together from the one end to the other. Even if you hold it up and shake it strongly, it does not come to pieces. The man who has written it is very clever. But what you write," he went on, both with scorn and a sort of friendly compassion, "is some here and some there. When the people forget to close the door it blows about, even down on the floor and you are angry. It will not be a good book."

—Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa

I laughed uncontrol
...more
Martha
Jul 04, 2010 Martha rated it did not like it
Shelves: africa
page 96: "The ideas of justice of Europe and Africa are not the same and those of the one world are unbearable to the other. To the African there is but one way of counterbalancing the catastrophes of existence, it shall be done by replacement: he does not look for the motive of an action. Whether you lie in wait for your enemy and cut his throat in the dark; or you fell a tree, and a thoughtless stranger passes by and is killed: so far as punishment goes, to the Native mind, it is the same thin ...more
Kathy
Jul 28, 2013 Kathy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I feel really guilty giving Dinesen only 3 stars...even 3.5 stars (which is what I would use if I could) is not enough. She really is an amazing writer who was obviously full of love for the African continent. Just take a look at this randomly selected passage:

"When the quickly growing rushing sound wandered over your head it was the wind in the tall forest-trees—and not the rain. When it ran along the ground it was the wind in the shrubs and the long grass—and not the rain. When it rustled and
...more
Aimee
Apr 18, 2012 Aimee rated it liked it
I really hated the first 3/4 of this book. I didn't like the anecdotal style of writing. I didn't like that there was no chronological order. It read very much like an unpracticed storyteller, "this one thing happened, i'm going to talk about it for 20 pages. but wait, this thing happened before that, and i'll talk about that. i guess i'm going to skip ahead 5 years and tell you this other story, and then go back to the beginning to share a different story." I really disliked that.

I hated the n
...more
Erica
Apr 29, 2012 Erica rated it liked it
One of the quotes on the back of the book is, "True to her credo of the storyteller's story, her tales are...glimpses out of, rather than into, an extraordinary mind." I certainly agree with that quote, but for that very reason, I found it difficult to get "into" this book. Dinesen/Blixen's stories from her time in Africa are illuminating and informative of a time in history. The idea of servants, a belief that all "Natives" are similar, and her beliefs regarding their intelligence seem quite fo ...more
Brittany
Apr 28, 2011 Brittany rated it really liked it
I had seen the movie adaptation of this book and loved it for the landscape. It's a poor advertisement for the book. The landscape is still there, but the story is almost completely different. While the movie is very overtly a love story between a man and a woman (and a pretty good one) the book is a love story between a woman and a continent. The man who is her lover in the movie appears in the book, but she never explicitly states that he is her lover, and she certainly never discusses the det ...more
Lynnda Ell
Jun 14, 2010 Lynnda Ell rated it really liked it
Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass contains some of the most elegantly written prose I have read. The book is part autobiography and part remininescence of Karen Blixen's years of running a coffee plantation in Kenya.

She arrived in Africa before World War I and returned to Denmark shortly before World War II, so the world in her book is far removed from our own. The book contains no premis, no plot, and no moral. Yet, her writing makes the place come so alive that I expected to see the nati
...more
« 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 »
  • Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Little Women
  • The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood
  • West with the Night
  • The Further Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe
  • Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton
  • White Mischief
  • Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady - Volume 1 (of 9)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (Sparknotes Literature Guides)
  • Straight on Till Morning: The Biography of Beryl Markham
  • Out of Isak Dinesen in Africa: Karen Blixen's Untold Story
  • The Road from Coorain
  • Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)
  • In the Heart of the Country
  • Billy Budd and Other Tales
  • Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda
  • I Dreamed of Africa: Tie In Edition
7215049
Pseudonym used by the Danish author Karen Blixen.

Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (Danish: [kʰɑːɑn ˈbleɡsn]; 17 April 1885 – 7 September 1962), née Karen Christenze Dinesen, was a Danish author, also known by the pen name Isak Dinesen, who wrote works in Danish, French and English. She also at times used the pen names Tania Blixen, Osceola, and Pierre Andrézel.
Blixen is best known for Out of Afri
...more
More about Isak Dinesen...

Share This Book



“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.” 35 likes
“Circumstances can have a motive force by which they bring about events without aid of human imagination or apprehension. On such occasions you yourself keep in touch with what is going on by attentively following it from moment to moment, like a blind person who is being led, and who places one foot in front of the other cautiously but unwittingly. Things are happening to you, and you feel them happening, but except for this one fact, you have no connection with them, and no key to the cause or meaning of them. [...] - a passage outside the range of imagination, but within the range of experience.” 9 likes
More quotes…