Books

The Invincible Slave-Owners

Isak Dinesen

Baden-Baden, 1875: an aristocratic spa town haven where Europe's elite might 'take the waters' and continue to perpetuate centuries of upper class tradition. Axel Leth, a young Danish nobleman, quietly performs his established role amidst ageing widows and retired generals. Enter Mizzie, a red-haired beauty, shy and demure in the custody of her governess, Miss Rabe. Axel quickly falls in love. But overhearing their tête-à-tête, he soon learns that their performance runs much deeper than the superficial customs of an upper-class watering-hole.
In this tale of servants, owners and the sham of the aristocratic world, Isak Dinesen unravels the deep-rooted desire of rulers to rule and the crushing burden of pretence, upbringing and social acceptance.

Babette's Feast

Isak Dinesen

'And it happened when Martine or Philippa spoke to Babette that they would get no answers, and would wonder if she had even heard what they said ... Orshe would sit immovable on the three-legged kitchen chair, her strong hands in her lap and her dark eyes wide open, as enigmatical and fatal as a Pythia upon her tripod. At such moments, they realised that Babette was deep, and that in the soundings of her being there were passions, there were memories and longings of which they knew nothing at all.'

Babette's Feast is a sublime celebration of eating, drinking and sensual pleasure. In Isak Dinesen's life-affirming short story, two elderly sisters living in a remote, god-fearing Norwegian community take in a mysterious refugee from Paris one night - and are rewarded for their kindness with the most decadent, luxurious feast of a lifetime.

Seven Gothic Tales

Isak Dinesen

Romantics, adventurers, sensualists, melancholics and dreamers inhabit the bizarre and exotic world conjured up in these seven intricately interwoven tales, whose settings range from Tuscany and Elsinore, to a dhow on its way from Lamu to Zanzibar.

Proclaimed a masterpiece on its publication in 1934, this collection is shot through with themes of love and desire - from the maiden lady who now believes herself to have been the grand courtesan of her time, to the Count whose wife is so jealous that she cannot bear him to admire her jewels, and Lincoln Forsner, an Englishman whose search for a woman he met in a brothel leads him into many strange adventures.

The Angelic Avengers

Isak Dinesen

Lucan has been orphaned and Zosine has been deserted, and London is a hostile place for two young girls without a home. Bound together by poverty, grief and their shared years at school, they set out to make a future for themselves in new surroundings. They are adopted by the austere, puritanical Reverend Pennhallow and his wife, and in their large, gloomy house they become immersed in study. But, after a chain of disturbing events, it does not take long before they realize that the cleric and his wife are not all they seem to be ...

Winter's Tales

Isak Dinesen

If one theme unifies the 11 tales collected here, it is that of longing. Written after her return from Kenya and during the dark days of the Nazi occupation, they derive their themes and locales from Isak Dinesen's childhood in Denmark. Isak Dinesen was the pen-name of Karen Blixen, who was born in Rungsted, Denmark in 1885. After studying art at Copenhagen, Paris and Rome, she married her cousin, Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke, in 1914. Together they went to Kenya to manage a coffee plantation. After their divorce in 1921, she continued to run the plantation until a collapse in the coffee market forced her back to Denmark in 1931.

Out of Africa

Isak Dinesen

In 1914 Karen Blixen arrived in Kenya with her husband to run a coffee farm. Instantly drawn to the land, she spent her happiest years there until the plantation failed. Karen Blixen was forced to return to Denmark in 1931 and it was there that she wrote this classic account of her experiences. A poignant farewell to her beloved farm, Out of Africa describes her strong friendships with the people of her area, her affection for the landscape and animals, and great love for the adventurer Denys Finch-Hatton.

Written with astonishing clarity and an unsentimental intelligence, Out of Africa portrays a way of life that has disappeared for ever.

Anecdotes of Destiny

Isak Dinesen

These five rich, witty and magical stories from the author of Out of Africa include one of her most well known tales, ‘Babette’s Feast’, which was made into the classic film. It tells the story of a French cook working in a puritanical Norwegian community, who treats her employers to the decadent feast of a lifetime. There is also a real-life Prospero and his Ariel in ‘Tempests’, a mysterious pearl-fisher in ‘The Diver’ and a brief, tragic encounter in ‘The Ring’. All the stories have a mystic, fairy-tale quality, linked by themes of angels, the sea, dreams and fate. They were among the last to be written by Isak Dinesen, and show her as a master of short fiction.

Shadows on the Grass

Isak Dinesen (and others)

Isak Dinesen takes up the absorbing story of her life in Kenya begun in the unforgettable Out of Africa, which she published under the name of Karen Blixen. With warmth and humanity these four stories illuminate her love both for the African people, their dignity and traditions, and for the beauty and wildness of the landscape. The first three were written in the 1950s and the last, 'Echoes from the Hills', was written especially for this volume in the summer of 1960 when the author was in her seventies. In all they provide a moving final chapter to her African reminiscences.

Biography

ISAK DINESEN was the pen-name of Karen Blixen, who was born in Rungsted, Denmark in 1885. After studying art at Copenhagen, Paris and Rome, she married her cousin, Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke, in 1914. Together they went to Kenya to manage a coffee plantation. After their divorce in 1921, she continued to run the plantation until a collapse in the coffee market forced her back to Denmark in 1931.

Although she had written occasional contributions to Danish periodicals since 1905 (under the <I>nom de plume</I> of Osceola), her real début took place in 1934 with the publication of <I>Seven Gothic Tales</I>, written in English under her pen-name. <I>Out of Africa</I> (1937) is an autobiographical account of the years she spent in Kenya. Most of her subsequent books were published in English and Danish simultaneously, including <I>Winter’s Tales</I> (1942) and <I>The Angelic Avengers</I> (1946), under the name of Pierre Andrézol. Among her other collections of stories are <I>Last Tales</I> (1957), <I>Anecdotes of Destiny</I> (1958), <I>Shadows on the Grass</I> (1960) and <I>Ehrengard</I> (1963). All of these books are published by Penguin.

Baroness Blixen died in Rungsted in 1962.