Craig's Reviews > Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass by Isak Dinesen
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's review
Apr 09, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: classics-european

I had a difficult time deciding whether to classify this book under classics, biography or histroy. It is all three wrapped into one. This is an absolutely brilliant work by the Danish writer Karen Blixen (who wrote under the pen name of Isak Dinesen). It recounts her nearly 20 years of life in Britsh East Africa (now Kenya) (circa 1914 - 1934) and of the great love affair she had with that country and its people. It is very much autobiographical. Though born and raised in Denmark, she wrote the book in English, doing a magnificant job. She recounts her many adventures, most of which centered on her simple daily living on a coffee plantation she owned high in the mountains near Nairobi. She describes the many African tribes/peoples she knew and grew to love, the vast open grasslands inhabitated by African wildlife (she loved to hunt), and the cultural differences between the Africans and Europeans (but who learned to live in harmony). Most interesting to me was the penning of her simple daily experiences which became inciteful metaphores for the human experience. Blixen weighs, balances and compares the wide differences between the European and African ways of life and in the end distills them down into basic truths which comprise humanity. Though cultural biases will always exist (based on upbringing), Blixen admirably withheld judgment and accepted and loved people for who they were; for their commonality. Blixen has a brilliant and captivating literary style. I listened to the book on audio narrated by Julie Christie who did a superb job. I highly recommend her narration. Blixen's remarkable descriptive language was so eloquent and stunning, I intend to purchase the book for the purpose of rereading and underlining. I highly recommend this book. For me it was a solid 5.

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