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Out of Africa

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  30,605 ratings  ·  1,736 reviews
In this book, the author of Seven Gothic Tales gives a true account of her life on her plantation in Kenya. She tells with classic simplicity of the ways of the country and the natives: of the beauty of the Ngong Hills and coffee trees in blossom: of her guests, from the Prince of Wales to Knudsen, the old charcoal burner, who visited her: of primitive festivals: of big ga ...more
Hardcover, 389 pages
Published September 10th 2002 by Random House (first published 1937)
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Meg Watson Blixen actually cared far more for the native peoples than the east Kenyan whites. Surprising that anyone could see it differently, as they are…moreBlixen actually cared far more for the native peoples than the east Kenyan whites. Surprising that anyone could see it differently, as they are shockingly absent from her book, with the exception of her lover and her friend Berkley, and a few old characters. She fought hard for the Kikuyu to save their land before she left. She actually had an offer to stay in the house after the property was sold, but knew it would be too painful to see the development. I think she made a smart move. (less)

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3.96  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-to-film, africa
”Up in this air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.”

 photo Karen_Blixen_1913_zpscx1ugrqm.jpg
Karen Blixen in 1913. Her whole life was before her.

When Karen Blixen married her second cousin Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke in 1914 and followed along as a devoted wife should to help him run a coffee plantation in Kenya, I’m sure she had an idea of what her life was to be, but the story of our lives generally deviates
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Lisa
I once had a crush on Karen Blixen, at the shores of Rungstedlund.

Travelling my life like Odysseus the mythical Mediterranean seas, I found myself in front of a majestic house on a strip of Danish coastline, some ten years ago, and in the company of my lively bunch of toddlers, aged approximately 4, 2.5 and 0.5 years. While I walked reverently in the footsteps of Karen Blixen, studiously scrutinising every single letter and photograph on display in the exhibition, my family ran wild outside, enj
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Candi
4.5 stars

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills… Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, and unequalled nobility."

A beautiful and evocative memoir of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, Out of Africa is a tribute to that magnificent continent from a woman who truly loved both the land and its people. One must remember while reading this memoir that it was written during a period of colonialism, but I never sensed that Blixen felt herself superior to the native Kik
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Duane
"I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills".

After finishing the book I turned back to read this opening line again, and in this first sentence one can sense the pride that Blixen felt for this place, and one can also feel the sadness, the disappointment in the word "had", knowing that it slipped away from her at the end. Losing her farm and also losing her beloved Denys Finch Hatton must have been devastating.

This is one of those memoirs that is as compelling as good fiction. Blixen
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Brina
It is November and it is to the point where many of the books in my library pile are meant to check off books remaining in yearly challenges in some capacity. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, the pen name for Karen Blixen, is highly regarded. As such, it was chosen as a buddy read in the group Retro Chapter Chicks this month. I also happened to have the book on my bingo card in the group Catching up on Classics so I could read to check off that box as well, and now I only have one box left to comp ...more
Lizzy
“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”
From its first sentence Out of Africa captivated me. It was enchanting, old-fashioned, poignant, wistful and insightful. Karen Blixen’s story of her life in Africa, a series of reminiscences from 1914 to 1931, portrays her love for that country – the people, the land, the animals. It has a fairy tale quality at times. Blixen is a master story-teller; it’s easy to understand why Denys Finch Hatton loved to hear her recount her stories.

T
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Sidharth Vardhan
“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”

This very first line of Dinesen's memoir is like down Alice's rabbit hole; Platform Nine and three quarters, King's Cross or that cyclone that took Dorothy to Oz. Except this time, the world is a real one. Though not imaginary, it isn't lacking in adventures because of that and is unlike anything that modern city dwelling readers can know.

“It is a sad hardship and slavery to people who live in towns, that in their movements they know o
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Andrea
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dianne
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2015
Really lovely - a living, breathing piece of history with writing that will make your heart sing. Of its time, certainly not "politically correct" with its colonial viewpoint, but nevertheless, the author's love of Africa and its people shines through. I felt as though I was sitting at Scheherazade's knee as she spun her 1001 tales. Dinesen/Blixen is a master story-teller - I can understand why Denys Finch Hatton loved to hear her tell her stories.

Highly recommend.
Forrest
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Beverly
This woman led an extraordinary life. She tells of her struggles to make a coffee tree farm profitable in Kenya (17 years she lived there, 10 with a dissolute husband and 7 on her own after their divorce, you get the feeling she wasn't too keen about him, as she only mentions him once in the narrative) with lyrical, lovely prose. This is not a linear story, but rather a collection of short vignettes about Africa: her friends there, animals she loved and those she hunted, the beauty of the landsc ...more
Tinea
May 02, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Connie G
After seeing the movie "Out of Africa" for the second time recently, I wondered if I would enjoy the book as well. Not to worry, the book is even better since the author was a keen observer and an accomplished storyteller.

Isak Dinesen is the pen name for the Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke who came from Denmark to British East Africa (Kenya) with her husband in 1914. Although they soon separated, Dinesen stayed to run a large coffee plantation near Nairobi. She tells stories about the customs
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Helle
I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

I visited Karen Blixen’s house in Rungsted last week and was immediately drawn into her magical realm of cross-cultural storytelling and awe-inspiring life. I bought this book there, the cover of which was painted by Blixen herself, and immersed myself in the incredible story of her life in Africa. (I visited the house with my mother years ago but didn’t embark upon Blixen’s oeuvre until recently. As with all of literature, timing and readine
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Luís C.
"I have owned a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong."

Thus begins the story of Karen Blixen who spent part of his life in Kenya, at the head of a coffee plantation. His autobiographical columns describes a continent, a country, contented from the menu set little jokes or big events that punctuated his life and that of his "people" in dream landscapes, in a land which she loved the people, the legends, the traditions.

Do not seek from the film Out of Africa a love story. Karen's husband is v
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Camie
Apr 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Out of Africa is a modern classic memoir of Isak Dinesen's ( Karen Blixen) years in Kenya.(1914-1931) Arriving from Denmark with her husband to run a 4,000 acre Coffee Plantation, after their separation she stays on to manage the farm alone. There is some beautiful writing here about the scenery, wildlife, and the natives. Her native servants and farm workers appear fond of her and most all of the stories are about the Kikuyu and Masai Tribes who live around her. I already knew many of the facts ...more
Thomasin
Amazing. AMAZING!! I've heard of this book all my life, of course, but its premise never caught my interest. Oh, how glad I am to have run across a copy at a garage sale this summer. It's amazing. Baroness Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen) has the most lovely narrative voice. She can tell a tale, set a scene, make you part of the story. It's truly amazing. I've started telling myself I'm not allowed to mark-up my books anylonger, but I found myself turning down numerous pages of this book so I could ret ...more
Lenoir
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Kavita
Karen Blixen wrote this book under the male pseudonym of Isak Dinesen. Despite having travelled to another continent and managed a farm all on her own, she was obviously not to be trusted to write about her own experiences under the name of a woman!

I enjoyed this book, though the focus of it is rather narrow. It accurately describes Karen's own life and her experiences in Kenya, though she seems quite oblivious of the larger political scenario around her. The writing is lovely, and takes you ri
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Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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?”

Beautiful.
Laysee
One of the best things about Goodreads is being led quite naturally to the next book to read. I felt drawn to re-visit “Out of Africa” when a couple of Goodreads friends recently reviewed it with such fervor and beauty.

So I found myself rapturously back at the foot of the Ngong hills, 16 km southwest of Nairobi. Published in 1937, “Out of Africa” is a memoir by Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (who wrote under the pen name, Isak Dinesen) that recounted 17 years of the life she sha
...more
Elizabeth
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Denis
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ken-ichi
Jan 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah
This book is a series of stories about the author's life while living in Kenya. I was interested by her observations of the local wildlife and the local Natives, with each having aspects of their personalities that were influenced by their tribe. For the most part, though, I actually felt bored. It took me an entire week to finish this 330 page book.

I was not really surprised to see the typical European Colonial Arrogance (it was a very serious medical condition) but that didn't make it any eas
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Ebookwormy1
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
Caro the Helmet Lady
I'm not sure why I had rather high expectations towards this book, but I did. At the same time I was putting this book away many times expecting it to be somewhat of slow paced and at that moment I usually wanted to read something more "entertaining".

And it was somewhat slow paced in fact, yet it was also entertaining enough to keep me turning pages till I finished it. Although maybe "entertainment" is not exactly the word describing this story well. The process of reading it reminded me of look
...more
Nandakishore Varma
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I read the book because I saw the movie. How about that?

I did not know about Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) when this movie practically swept the Oscars in 1985. But I knew Meryl Streep and was almost besotted with her - so seeing the movie was a must. Expecting a kind of African Safari-like drama, I was surprised and enchanted by the subdued tones in which the film was picturised. I immediately decided to read the book on which it was based.

The book had some differences from the movie - there alwa
...more
Fred Shaw
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The reason I wanted to read "Out of Africa" was to get a better view of Karen Blixen and her story that was made into the movie: More about her husband, Denys, D, Berkeley, safaris etc. Very little of what I was looking for was in the book. What I did learn was the story of a woman with infinite gratitude for her life in Africa. Vivid stories of the Kikuyu, Somalis, and visitors, both man and beast. She loved not only her husband, lover and friends but the land, natives, wildlife, the air she br ...more
Tanja Berg
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For being a memoir written at the beginning of the 20th century, the author has almost shockingly modern views. She is sympathetic and insightful as she tells of her years on her coffee farm in Kenya. The book is divided into vignettes and shows different aspects of the life as a kaleidoscope. It is less a chronological tale. It works though and I found this a highly meditative and inspiring read.
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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), born 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 Afr
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