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Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  497 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 27th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1958)
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Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like storytelling
Somewhere between the short,jewel like clarity of Winter's Tales and the dark pathways of Seven Gothic Tales this is possibly Dineson's most entertaining collection. Babette's feast is a justified comic classic(undercut with her trademark melancholy),Immortal Story is close to the best thing she has every written(up there with the Dreamers and Sorrow Acre),a mix of gothic terror and farce. Dineson can be best described as someone who has swallowed a library but still wants to tell you campfire t ...more
Rambling Reader
some stories are excellent and some are so-so. that's what made me decide to rate four stars for this collection. gothic tales and out of Africa are the best representation of dinesen's writerly talents.
sun surfer
An amusing though wildly varying in quality collection of deliberately old-fashioned stories that sometimes have tinges of magical realism.

Glancing over the other reviews, I have no doubt that some well-intentioned teacher forced many students to review one story from this version of this book, as about 90% of the reviews begin with some variation of, 'I was deeply saddened to only have the opportunity to read The Immortal Story in this book, but it was alright I guess.' Well, I suppose I appla
Aaron Jansen
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having now read virtually all of Dinesen’s fictional output (I still have not read Out of Africa, the book for which she is most famous, but it’s a memoir, not a novel) I feel prepared to assess her body of work as a whole. She is, basically, a genius. But her genius is of the extremely specialized sort that exhausts itself quickly once it’s found the right mode of expression. Dinesen finds her mode immediately: Nearly all of her stories are concerned with 18th and 19th century European aristocr ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I have only read the Immortal Story I can only comment on how I feel about that one. The story was okay and was a lot better than most stories I have to read in school. I did like how the story flowed and how it did not focus solely on one character the whole time. The characters themselves were pretty good as well. The only reason I do not really like the story is that it is not my usual cup of tea. I do not usually read stories like this unless it is for school and even then I do not like i ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Creatives and classic-lovers
Babette's Feast, one of the short stories in this book, is an exceptional commendation of love, compassion, and excellence in aesthetic creativity, and by far my favorite of this collection. "Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me leave to do my utmost!" (I also highly recommend the masterfully film directed by Gabriel Axel drawn from this story.) The Diver and Tempests (other stories in this book) are also worth a read for the drama of their pensivel ...more
I was sadly only able to read the Immortal Story, but then again it was kind of a boring book. If someone had just laid this book in front of me and told me i could read it if i wanted to, i most likely would have read the first chapter then i would have thrown it across the room because the first couple chapters were that boring. I will however say that towards the end of the story it picked up a little speed and did get more interesting.
Cody Schatz
I only read the Immortal Story, so it's hard to write an accurate review. Nevertheless, I found the story rather boring, and ongoing for a lack of better words. The plot wasn't as bad as expected, but I believe if one was not required to read the story, you wouldn't. There isn't enough excitement to keep a person interested. It's very, very dull. The ending of the story is one out of a horrible movie.
May 26, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
More like a ".5" All the stories were written in the same dry fashion, underdeveloped characters and hardly any creativity.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read this book straight through in one sitting but picked it up and read a short story here and there over the course of a long time. The mood of these stories is quiet and mellow so it is nice to have a pocket of uninterrupted down time in which to read them. Babette's Feast is one of my favorite movies (I know I'm not alone in that), and that story is included here, but every story is its own unique jewel. Each has an otherworldly, fairy tale quality, being set in an Old World context ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isak Dinesen is best known for “Out of Africa” and her “Seven Gothic Tales,” but her other works contain some fine masterpieces as well. This volume contains a series of short stories and novellas. Dinesen’s tales are written in a traditional storytelling style, and are fine representations of 19th century Romantic literature. Each of her stories presents a gothic bleakness, much like modern movies of Nordic countries. She explores themes of morality, austerity, destiny and courage.

The first tal
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dinesen, Isak. ANECDOTES OF DESTINY and EHRENGARD. (1958 & 1963). ****. “Anecdotes...” is a collection of five short stories by Dinesen that vary in quality, but two of them are magnificent: “Babette’s Feast,” and “The Immortal Story.” Also included in this volume is the novella, “Ehrengard.” I could not, frankly, get into this tale – tortuous in its telling. It relies on a once-removed epistletory style in a trumped-up medieval style that leaft me cold. “Babette’s Feast,” is the story of Ba ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Ah! How you will enchant the angels!"
This quotation, from Babette's Feast, refers to the expectation of Phillipa, for whom Babette had been cook for many years, that Babette would truly be among the angels due to her transformative impact on Phillipa and her sister and the others from the small village of Berlevaag who attended the feast she had prepared. But to understand these transformations one must return to the beginning of Dinesen's story where the first paragraph introduces this town th
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Babette's Feast closer to Thanksgiving and loved it, so circled back around to pick up some more of Dinesan's stories. These do not disappoint. She has such a unique style of spinning a tale, but leaving so much buried underneath. Stories skip along the surface pulled by the characters' actions, but there are deeper dimensions of faith and relationships and motives that usually don't surface until the end and take a little effort to extract. In Tempests, a young woman is groomed to play A ...more
Austin Lance
I only read the Immortal Story, so I am unable to critique the entire thing. But, for the story I did read, I have to say it is quite good for its duration. The story in its entirety stands a story within story. (Storyception) Back to the point, with the Immortal Story, I find myself intrigued by the use of characterization in the tale. Mr. Clay is selfish, only attempting to create a story and make it fact. Elishama, Clay's assistant, doing his job and helping Clay realize his goal, was probabl ...more
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i loved Out of Africa (not really even the same story as he movie!), so I wanted to read something else by Isak Denison. This is a collection of stories, or novelettes. I read the first one and wasnot impressed. Then I read Babette's Feast--I had of course seen the movie years ago. It was good. I just finished The Immortal Tale and liked it even better---except for the ending (non). This is rather Dickensian, and at teh same time fantastical. A very unusual story premise: A dying old rich man do ...more
Christopher Smith
Enrapturing and clever, this set of stories by Karen Blixen discusses the trials of individuals at the mercy of fate, which brings people, fortune, and iopportunity in and out of each others' lives, in such a way as to change the ways in which they see themselves, the world, and their place in it. Very masterfully crafted, each story unfolds delicately, growing more complex and enticing without the reader even quite realizing it, until the point when one's jaw drops at a poignant resolution.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I have only read The Immortal Story out of this book, so I can't give a blanket statement in regards to the book. I can, however, write about how I felt after reading The Immortal Story.
I liked the story in general, but it had a very vague, abrupt ending and it was a little confusing. The story itself was actually something I hadn't ever encountered before; it had a good story and the characters were very filled out for such a short story. I am not really sure how I feel after re
Jan 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about-women
There's something about the way Dinesen writes that will impress you, whether she writes in an allegorical/fairy-tale way or the grains of wisdom which are strikingly true and unnervingly accurate found within. She has this kind of observation that amazes readers, in her stories, like Ehrengard--the story I particularly liked for its clever ending, and Babette's Feast which deals with a community of people and the "food feast" that changes them overnight (no they did not become monsters or anyth ...more
Krisette Spangler
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. Can I borrow it Sta
Ryan Tracy
I only read the Immortal Story: I felt the had an interesting storyline, but to me i felt that it was a bit unrealistic and outlandish. The characters in the story were WAY over the top crazy. Whether it was Mr. Clay, and Elishama's antisocial personality. To Virgine's little bit to "social" personality. The premise of the ending was what i expected, but the way they went about it was etremely strange. Over all i liked the idea of the story but I'm more of a realistic person and the book was jus ...more
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrote a more comprehensive review for book club, but I will say that I loved Babette's Feast and The Immortal Story the best of all the short stories. The themes of the power of food, what art means to an artist, and the power of free agency are strong and well thought out. A couple of the other stories didn't really speak to me as much; they felt less complete, less whole...just less. Still good, just not as much. ;)
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who respect the power of words and careful writing.
Dinesen is my new favorite author. Of the stories herein included, "The Ring" has captivated me the most, with its subtle yet fierce eroticism in one sentence. With one sentence, one little image (the knife in the sheep-thief's hand pointing at her neck), Dinesen disturbed me, thrilled me, and immediately let me know exactly what was going on in the mind of an up-till-then naive girl. Just amazing what she did in so few words.
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Isak Dinesen (or Karen Blixen) is becoming one of my favorite writers. Her writing is just incredible. This is a collection of dense, fairy tale-like of stories, and they are absolutely marvelous. Each is intricate and complex, with these incredible twists and turns. None of the stories ever went the way you expected, but by the end you felt like all the pieces had fallen perfectly into place. Really masterful composition. And so beautiful!
Callie Wray
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read The Immortal Story from this book. I actually really liked the story. It had some very humorous scenes and, generally, the plot was well thought out. Aside from the ending, it was written very well. I only gave it four stars because the ending bothered me. It seemed kind of abrupt and the whole shell thing was mostly just confusing. I would recommend giving this a read. I'm sure the other stories within the book are good as well.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read the immortal story and i did enjoy the story. The awkward aspect of making a tall tale not so tall was enjoyable. The interesting trial that Mr. Clay decided to put himself through as his last will on earth was entertaining because all he wanted was to make a sailor have sex with a woman and pay them to do so just to make a fictional story become nonfiction and give sailors hope of getting lucky.
Sammi Smith
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Out of all the stories in this book, I have only read "The Immortal Story." This story about an old Canton tea-trader was a good story. The whole concept of the story had an outstanding story line. My favorite kind of story is one told through many point of views. Elishama, Virginie, Mr. Clay, and Povl all tell their own side to the sailor's story which makes for an even more interesting story line. You will love "The Immortal Story."
Dylan Tracy
first of all i only read the immortal story sooo...... i thought the book in general was pretty good but i thought the ending was very confusing and it didn't make since at all. there is suppose too be a good ending to every story and this one wasn't i wish they would have lived happily ever after. the characters were all very different in there own ways and sometimes it made it hard to follow
Mackenzie Palmer
Only having read "The Immoral Story", I found it slightly interesting. There was one too many loose ends and the plot was foggy, but other than that, it was alight. The end of the story makes me feel like when you go to the zoo and stare at the otters in awe until one shoots out of the glass divider in a frenzy and starts biting your ankle. "Ouch why did that happen?!" Exactly.
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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
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