Out of Africa
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Out of Africa

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  14,331 ratings  ·  815 reviews
Out of Africa is Isak Dinesen's memoir of her years in Africa, from 1914 to 1931, on a four-thousand-acre coffee plantation in the hills near Nairobi. She had come to Kenya from Denmark with her husband, and when they separated she stayed on to manage the farm by herself, visited frequently by her lover, the big-game hunter Denys Finch-Hatton, for whom she would make up st...more
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published September 5th 1992 by Modern Library (first published 1937)
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Community Reviews

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Andrea
I chose to read this book in high school as one of those free-reading things for which you later have to give a presentation. This is a book about Africa for white people who want to go on a safari and see the cool animals, which is basically what the author did. I kinda hated Karen Blixen for her condescending attitude towards the "natives" and I felt the whole book was nothing but pretentious, self-aggrandizing bullshit. If I had had any courage, I would have done two things differently for my...more
Ken-ichi
Feb 21, 2010 Ken-ichi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ken-ichi by: Elizabeth
This is a book that I enjoyed without loving, but it nevertheless provided some novel experiences and food for thought, and what more can we ask of our books? I mean, besides spaceships and explosions. Dinesen's writing (and Dinesen herself) seems alternately lyrical and pragmatic, equally direct in describing grisly accidents with firearms or the otherwordly sensation of flying, but the whole was too fragmented and impressionistic to ever really dig its claws into me.

That said, it did get me th...more
Tinea
May 16, 2009 Tinea rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: no one! why are we still pretending this colonial drivel has value?
Recommended to Tinea by: Mom
I have no idea why my mom recommended this book to me. A white British colonist tells the story of her privileged life on her coffee plantation in Kenya. She writes some great imagery about the Kenyan landscape and tells funny stories about animals, except that her idea of the landscape and animals includes all the Black servants and workers and "squatters" on her plantation. She is really stupid and proudly naive. It's awful. For example, when she jokingly threatens to fire all of her servants...more
Denis
There's a reason why people keep reading this book decade after decade. It's a masterpiece, a memoir about life on a farm in Africa that is filled with such humanity, generosity, love, and nostalgia that it is impossible to resist. Dinesen does wonders at telling a rather simple story in ways that keep the reader captive. It's enchanting like a real, bittersweet, exotic, mysterious fairy-tale: with the author's words, her life on the African continent becomes an extraordinary adventure of almost...more
Lenoir
Ok, I'll admit it. I really didn't love this book. I didn't even finish it. I am adding it as read because I read more than half of it and I should get something out of it since I won't be getting my time wasted back. I'm sure you are supposed to read this for the lovely descriptions of Africa (and it does sound quite lovely) but if I had to read another comparison of a native to an animal I thought I was going to scream. There was zero story line. It was just not something that I could apprecia...more
Forrest
I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

For better or worse, this opening sentence rekindled my love affair with literature. Granted, I never lost my love of reading, but from my late teens to my early-twenties, the relationship was rather shallow, mostly maintained through movies about books, comic books/graphic novels (still a great love for me), and role-playing game books and modules, all interspersed with one-night-stands with real books that I loved for a night, then left o...more
Astrid
Jun 21, 2007 Astrid rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
I first chose this book because the english section in the french bookshop was very limited. However only after a few pages "Out of Africa" really made me stay in my chair, very unwilling to put it down. It is beautifully written and gives such an insight into the colonial life in Kenya in the early 20th century.

Karen Blixen writes about her life on the farm, the daily running of it, her on-farm workers and her place in it all. As her husband was very rarely there, it was K. Blixen that took car...more
Elizabeth
This book was odd, fascinating, strange, depressing, tedious, poignant, old-fashioned and profound.

I've heard so many different things from people as I read this book. A few fellow readers called it racist. Others went on and on about the beauty of the writing.

I enjoyed it, but now that I've set the book aside, I feel unsettled. This book encapsulates the receding tide of African culture. Dinesen writes, "It was not I who was going away, I did not have it in my power to leave Africa, but it was...more
Ebookwormy
This book captures the charm, the majesty, the beauty of Africa and her native people. A beautiful read full of stories about the tensions arising from the colonization of Kenya, and it's benefits (things like better medical care).

However, as far as biography, I found the book rather shadowy. There is reference to a husband, but no discussion of him. Reference to sickness but no clarity as to what caused it. References to male friends, but no insight into their relationship with the author. To f...more
Otis Chandler
It was nice to be back in Africa, even for a short time. This was a beautifully written memoir, and a remarkable glimpse into what Africa was like a century ago. I fear the Africa Dinesen described is long gone.

I picked this up tainted by having seen the movie first, and was kind of glad and surprised at the differences. The fact that she almost doesn't even mention her husband, who was so prominent in the film, I think would have been strange even to those who hadn't seen the movie. Also the wa...more
Christie Hinrichs
This has been on my "must read" list forever. When I picked it up, I'm embarrassed to say, I wasn't immediately aware that it was a memoir. I knew about the movie, and just assumed it was a novel based on Dinesen's experiences. So - it felt a little slow in the beginning, as I got my bearings. But Africa quickly seduced me, and I found myself fighting a low-grade fury that the Africa of her day was lost forever. How often does this irritation rattle me? All these places and times and I won't eve...more
Sunny in Wonderland
I started this book all wrong. I was expecting an autobiography of sorts. I was expecting to learn about Karen Blixen and her marriage and her love affair and her life from beginning to end.

But, this book is not a chronological story and it doesn't even really get into Karen's inner most thoughts. No. It is snippets of time - individual memories - wrapped up in some of the most beautiful, thought-provoking, descriptive prose I've ever had the pleasure to read.

So, while reading the first half-plu...more
Cherop
I don't think this book is intended to be an autobiography as such but a book that recalls Isak Dinesen's time in Kenya and those things which left an indelible impression on her.

When the movie came out I steadfastly avoided seeing it. I would catch little bits of it on television from time to time and finally saw the movie in full in the Spring of 2012. Just last week, I happened to come upon the book at a used book sale, picked it up and read (devoured) it over a 2 day period.

I enjoyed it imm...more
Rowland Bismark
Following Finch-Hatton's death and the bankruptcy of the coffee farm, Dinesen returned to Denmark and moved back into the estate where she was born, Rungstedlund. It was after she returned home and was living with her family that Dinesen began to write in earnest. She adopted the pen name, "Isak Dinesen," the term "Isak" being the Hebrew word for "one who laughs." She also decided that she should write in English, because it is a language that is more widely read than Danish. Her first collectio...more
James
Out of Africa is Karen Blixen's memoir about her years in Africa, writing as Isak Dinesen. She recounts the world of Africa, specifically Kenya. It is, like the England of her friend Denys Finch-Hatton, "a world that no longer existed" even then and certainly as she left it. The memoir is a slow read, yet a book with prose in which you can luxuriate, or languish perhaps as it seems to mirror the mammoth African landscape. Reading like a pastoral novel, the narrator interested me with her myriad...more
Beth
Out of Africa is less a single story than a series of vignettes arranged thematically to form the whole. It is like a collage of beautiful images of life on Karen Blixen's coffee plantation. Clearly Blixen loved this land, its people, and its wildlife. She embraced the opportunities that her life there presented. She attended the tribal ceremonial dances. She brokered resolutions of of conflicts among her workers, using accepted tribal methods, but also with a written and signed contract. She hu...more
Sly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
*Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during Ashford April (April 2013).

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills." Karen Blixen, writing under the nom de plume, Isak Dinesen, lived in Africa for many years, till she finally had to give up her coffee plantation and head home to Denmark, were she became a famous writer for her memoirs of her time in Kenya. The non linear vignettes of life on her farm capture a time and place that she knew, even at the tim...more
Steve
HEADLINE: The film of the same name bears no relation to the book in any truly important respect.



The biggest piece of baggage many of us bring to this book is the film of the same title, admittedly a visually stunning one. However, consider as you read the book what Brenda Cooper of Utah State University points out in her thesis, a point that I happen to agree with adamantly based upon my own reading of this book:
Recent research indicates that questionable choices are made in order to fit women’
...more
Mamdouh Abdullah
أصدر المركز القومي للترجمة السنة الماضية ثلاثة أعمال للقاصة والكاتبة الدنماركية البارونة كارين بليكسن: راحلة من أفريقيا، ظلال على الحشائش، مواقف مصيرية. نشرت كارين غالبية أعمالها القصصية تحت أسماء مستعارة ومنها اسم إيزاك داينسن. وهذا الاسم ليس غريباً على المهتمين بالشأن السينمائي، إذ أن الممثلة الشهيرة ميريل ستريب قد جسدت دور كارين بليكسن في عمل سينمائي حصد عدة جوائز للأوسكار, ومقتبس من عمل للكاتبة يمثل تاريخاً خاصاً بها حين كانت في أفريقيا لعشر سنوات: خارج أفريقيا Out Of Africa.

غادرت كارين إلى...more
Neo
When I first got hold of the book, I thought it was a novel, which is the basis of the Oscar Award winning movie of the same title starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. But the book is actually a memoir written by a Danish baroness (real name: Karen von Blixen) who took over the management of a coffee plantation on her own in Kenya after she and her unfaithful husband divorced. It’s a vivid snapshot of her life in Africa, or rather a lyrical expression of her love to the wonderful people and...more
Madeline
"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 sky was rarely more than pale blue or violet, with a profusion of mighty, weightless, ever-changing clouds towering up and sailing on it, but it has a blue vigour in it, and at a short distance it painted the ranges of hills and the woods a fresh deep blue. In the middle of the day the air was alive over the land, like a flame burning' it scintillated, waved, and shon...more
Maureen
Jul 23, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: africa, biography
I first ran across Karen Blixen's name in the Janet Flanner/ Solita Solano files in the Library of Congress unpublished manuscripts division. She was a compatriot of theirs in the twenties in Paris. This is the only book of hers that I have read. I enjoyed her descriptions of the wildlife and natural surroundings of Kenya, but I always felt that something was missing from this book. Maybe it was her husband. Maybe it was a feeling I had that she did not tell the whole story about why she had to...more
Sarah
I have mixed feelings about this book and others written by colonial settlers in Africa. I find it impossible to separate how this author came to possess the magnificent slice of Kenya that she did from her writings about it. At the heart of her story and others like it is the savage and devastating legacy of colonialism. How many lives and ways of life were obliterated to provide her with her beloved coffee farm? Though she may have respected the land and the people native to it, that does not...more
Marieke
The first time i read this as a teenager, I loved it. The second time around, after many years of immersion in African literature and history, I did not like it so much. Although, I think it had more to do with her writing style than the content. Not that it didn't bother me that instance after instance the "Natives" were compared to various wild animals (and not in a way that i thought was...positive). Her superior/wanna-be-in-favor with her "squatters" irked as well. Unfortunately I don't have...more
Karen
Author is a brave woman running a farm in East Africa during World War I. She is super smart but rather dry and especially in the first half of the book, impersonal. Even if one hasn't seen the Hollywood movie, you can't help but ask yourself "Where the hell is Robert Redford?" And in fact, even after his character appears in the novel, you're still not sure it's him, since Dinesen writes as if she is sexless. In this sense, the film does sort of kill the book, b/c without such expectations of s...more
Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vale
Non avrei mai letto questo libro se non avessi scoperto, rileggendo "Il giovane Holden", che Salinger ne tesseva le lodi. Così, colma di curiosità, acquistai una copia di seconda mano perché la copertina, seppur bella, richiamava il film: già visto e apprezzato. Niente di più sbagliato. Aveva ragione il vecchio J. D.! La Blixen possiede una voce compassata e al contempo lontana, quasi atavica, e narra le storie senza giudicare: mostra, descrive e lascia al lettore il compito di introiettare. La...more
Thing Two
This is a collection of thoughts and experiences Karin Dinesen recorded during her time in Kenya. It was interesting to me to see life in that country before AIDS, to read about the people, life on her plantation, and listen to her describe the land - in Meryl Streep's voice, of course, because I could never quite get the movie images out of my mind. The movie varied significantly from the book, or maybe it just left so much out I had a hard time finding the thread.
Frances
This is the person I have always wanted to be (minus the syphillis, of course). I have imagined myself as this character in so many ways at so many times in my life. so much so that she IS part of me. Her determination, head strong defiance, inner beauty, strength, compassion, freedom and tolerance, and perseverance over those who tried to quash her spirit. Quite simply, her grace. I absorbed the beauty of this life and this story. It is part of me. Always.
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4480096
Karen Christence Dinesen, Baroness Blixen-Finecke - wrote as Isak Dinesen, Pierre Andrézel, 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 Bible, the Arabian...more
More about Isak Dinesen...
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“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.” 128 likes
“People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue. They also know that the real glory of dreams lies in their atmosphere of unlimited freedom. It is not the freedom of the dictator, who enforces his own will on the world, but the freedom of the artist, who has no will, who is free of will. The pleasure of the true dreamer does not lie in the substance of the dream, but in this: that there things happen without any interference from his side, and altogether outside his control. Great landscapes create themselves, long splendid views, rich and delicate colours, roads, houses, which he has never seen or heard of...” 66 likes
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