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Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  654 ratings  ·  103 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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by Vintage (first published 1958)
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Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Sara Hershey Miller
Nov 27, 2022 rated it liked it
Isak Dinesen writes beautifully, but I don't think I like her view of the world. Somehow it is enchanting and disenchanting at the same time. ...more
A.D. Jansen
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
James Frase-White
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my 3rd or 4th time reading these tales, and each time I am enchanted. Babette's Feast is not only a story as delicious as the meal she serves, it has also been made into one of the most perfect movies ever made. This is literature at its highest form, touching the intellect as well as, dare I say it, the soul--the deep well that is the elixir of life itself. ...more
Sep 05, 2022 rated it liked it
The short story Babette's Feast has popped up in multiple book conversations lately, so I decided to give it a try. I didn't fall in love with that particular story (I think it might have been my least favorite of the entire collection), but I enjoyed several of the others. Dinesen's prose is really gorgeous and is worth reading, even when the stories themselves aren't the most enthralling. ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club-uhc
I only read the story "Babette's Feast" for book club. I really enjoyed the story & we had a great conversation about the characters during our meeting. ...more
Mar 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
My desire to read Babette’s Feast was the result of having seen and loved the movie of the same name. Because is it a short story, it is included in a compilation. I had high expectations and was not disappointed. Reading works of great authors from other cultures and countries can be an enriching experience. Karen Blixen’s short stories are poignant examples.
Whiskey Tango
I. Martine and Phillipa are two sisters, both in their late 40s, who live in a coastal town on a fjord in Norway called Berlevaag. The sisters have a maid-in-waiting named Babette, who is a refugee from France.

II. Martine's Lover - Martine, the oldest, first attracts an admirer at 18. The young officer Lorens Loewenhielm sees Martine in town and must see her again. Through his aunt, Lorens gets invited to the Dean's dinner table, but he has nothing to say to the lovely Martine. On the last day
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
I read a few Dinesen stories for a class in college (I believe we read "The Cardinal's First Tale" and one other one), and I really liked them, so I had always wanted to check out more from her. Finally got around to it with this book, and I found it a little disappointing. Overall this was solid, but I just tired of Dinesen's style by the end and didn't even finish Ehrengard. I think I would like each of these stories individually more than I did reading them all back-to-back, as they all feel ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Cody Schatz
Sep 05, 2013 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
May 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
More like a ".5" All the stories were written in the same dry fashion, underdeveloped characters and hardly any creativity. ...more
Jeff Lewonczyk
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
To me this is a selection of lyrical, jewel-box fairy-tales, with just enough postmodern self-awareness to give them a little spice. If I'd read them all in a row I suspect I might have found them a bit precious, but spread out over time they were like enjoying tales told by a hyperliterate, semi-ironic grandma, stories I knew were leaving out things I'd understand better when I was older, the mystery of which gave them a pungent flavor of past times that overcame any overly mannered or purple p ...more
Nov 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
During a recent conversation with an Episcopal priest, she mentioned Babette's Feast. Not the movie, which I love, but the short story by Isak Dinesen. "Oh man," I said. "I really should get around to reading that."

So I did, along with the rest of this collection. Karen Blixen's (the actual name of Dinesen) work makes for a fascinating read, as it's both fresh and steeped in her unique blend of cultures. The sensibility is Scandinavian, yet...not. Formal and personal, spiritual and earthy, it's
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare, 2020
Fascinating! Although Hogarth publishers in the 21st century have encouraged contemporary writers to retell Shakespeare's plays (I've previously reviewed "Hag-Seed," by Margaret Atwood), it's not a new theme. While "Babette's Feast" is the most famous of the short works in this collection, this review is solely of Dinesen's novella "Tempests." One of the few works she wrote in Danish, the reader is of course handicapped by the translation. I'll credit that for the slow start, but as the tale goe ...more
Jan 06, 2022 rated it liked it
My reaction to these stories was mixed. Many reviewers here speak of them as like fairy tales - yes, I agree. Or perhaps fables. They often had mystical aspects, and a lesson. On the other hand the lesson was not always clear to me - I could feel it slipping from my grasp. Dinesen has a cozy way of writing, with charming little details, and intriguing but slightly off-putting details. The tone could verge on ominous, but also have instances of delight. I think small doses are best. And not as yo ...more
Chris Seals
Oct 01, 2022 rated it liked it
Like other reviewers, I too picked up the book because I had seen the movie, "Babette's Feast" and loved it, I wanted to read the story. The movie did such a fantastic job of story telling that I kept thinking of the scenes as I read the story. I do believe I liked the movie better than the "book", but I so enjoyed seeing how the producers followed the story, it was perfect. As for the rest of the stories in this book....not so great. I read "The Diver", ho-hum....and "The Tempest"....such a dis ...more
Thomas Rau
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Very much what A.D. Jansen said in their Goodreads review:
(Couldn't have put it better myself. Not recognized enough; Borges; little variation but genius at what she does.)

Weakest stories: "Tempests" and "The Ring". Most fun & light-hearted story: "Ehrengard". Best stories: "Babette's Feast" and "The Immortal Story" - the last almost a parody of an O. Henry story, or of the darker origins of an O. Henry story, maybe.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My first experience reading Isak Dinensen (Karen Blixen) was one that will be impossible to liberate from my heart and mind for some time to come. The six stories contained in this volume are grandly poetic, adventurous explorations in love, faith, heartbreak, and the power of storytelling, written in the most evocative language. The stories "Babette's Feast", "Tempests", and "The Immortal Story" had me spellbound. ...more
Jim Layman
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
The six tales in this volume vary greatly in style and in substance. Their great similarity is in the craftsmanship of their author. Babette’s Feast is well-known and well-deserved of praise. There are other short tales here of interest and skill. Enjoy.
Matthew McLean
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful book.
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This is an interesting collection of stories, especially when taken in context of Blixen's life. Can't say it was necessarily my cup of tea, but it definitely kept class interesting. ...more
Susan Hunnicutt-Balman
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really wonderful short stories but, as I knew it would be, "Babette's Feast" was the best...the one I most wanted to read. ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
(Hmm, I liked Ehrengard the best, except for Babette's Feast... Reviewed elsewhere.) ...more
Michael Citrino
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting stories but for me the language made reading more cumbersome.
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-scandinavian
The stories in this collection seem to be a letdown after reading Seven Gothic Tales and Winter's Tales. ...more
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Pseudonym used by the Danish author Karen Blixen.

Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (Danish: [kʰɑːɑn ˈb̥leɡ̊sn̩]; 17 April 1885 – 7 September 1962), born Karen Christentze 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

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