Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Isak Dinesen, also known as Baroness Karen Blixen-Finecke was a Danish writer that was known for mixing supernatural elements with an aristocratic view of life in her work. She was born into a well-to-do patrician family and she attended the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen, and also studied in England, Switzerland, Italy and France. In 1907 Blixen made her debut as a writer with several short stories. When she got married she went to Kenya where she ran with her husband a coffee plantation. Karen suffered in Africa from syphilis, which she had contacted from her husband. After divorce in 1921 she struggled by herself and she decided to return to Denmark in 1931. Her years in Africa were depicted in Out of Africa her calm and nostalgic autobiography which started with her famous words: “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills”. Out of Africa was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1985, directed by Sydney Pollack. Blixen’s major work, Seven Gothic Tales, was proclaimed a masterpiece by critics in England and in the U.S. In Denmark the critics were more reserved because her stories were considered too exotic and she was accused of elitism. In the 1950’s Karen’s health was deteriorating and writing became impossible, she decided to become a radio lecturer and made one record. She was nominated six times for the Nobel Prize. Such American writers as Trunnan Capote and Carson McCullers acknowledged their admiration of her work. She died in September 1962 in Rungsted.