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Out of Africa
by Isak Dinesen

Synopsis:
From 1914 to 1931, Danish aristocrat Baroness Karen Blixen owned and operated a coffee plantation in Kenya. After the plantation failed, she returned to Europe and began to write under the pen name Isak Dinesen. Out of Africa reads like a collection of stories in which she adheres to no strict chronology, gives no explanation of the facts of her life, and apologizes for nothing.
 

Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (1 of 5), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, November 01, 2000 07:10 PM Today marks the official start of the OUT OF AFRICA discussion. I read this many years ago after seeing the movie. The book is superior to the movie, although any movie with the marvelous Meryl Streep wins a place in my heart. Also, the magnificent scenery shots in the movie made it very easy for me to understand why Dinesen was so enthralled with this part of Africa. Robert Redford was, of course, totally miscast as Dinesen's lover Denys Finch-Hatton, who was a real charmer and an through intellectual but not very good looking (at least in photographs). I have reread about 1/3 of the book so far. These days I am particularly busy because I started a new job last week and because I'm helping check on my mother-in-law who just got home from quadruple heart bypass surgery. So, I am hoping that someone else who has been reading this book will have some more profound comments. One of the things that I have most enjoyed about this story is that it is told by a woman who so thoroughly enjoyed where she was and what she was doing. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Her writing makes me want to enter into her world. I recognize, of course, that it has long since disappeared, if in fact it every existed exactly as she describes it. But then books do allow you to experience that kind of travel magic in any case, don't they? Dinesen talks a lot about her relationships with the native people. Do you find her comments about the Africans condescending, or realistic? Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (2 of 5), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, November 01, 2000 11:22 PM Ann, For some reason I've had a hard time finding this at the library. Just got hold of a copy this weekend. I've got some other reading commitments so I *hope* I can get here before the discussion's over! Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (3 of 5), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, November 01, 2000 11:47 PM I haven't started this yet, mostly because I can't find my copy. It'll be the third time around for me. I loved it unqualifiedly the first time. The second time what bothered me was just what you noted, Ann, her attitude towards the natives. I think she meant well, within her lights, but by today's standards it was condescending. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (4 of 5), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, November 02, 2000 05:27 AM Ruth, I agree that when we read it with our minds set in today's perspectives it sounds condescending, but I keep reminding myself that she didn't experience it or write about it in today's world. What she describes was probably a pretty enlightened attitude for the times, although I'll be the first to say that my knowledge of Africa at that time (or any other, I'm afraid!) is pretty limited. That's part of why this book is interesting to me -- it reveals so much about the lifestyle and the culture of the area and the time. Lynn
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (5 of 5), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Thursday, November 02, 2000 06:55 AM I'm going a little slow on this too because of "real life", but enjoying every single minute of it. So, those of you who post a little late on this will definitely have a companion. I think Dinesen's attitudes toward the native peoples are definitely condescending, but they are typical of the group assumptions that the human mind seems to find comforting. It disappoints me a bit because, otherwise, she seems to have such a discerning mind, but I can forgive her for it. Despite some of the same cubbyholing, I love the proud image of Farah (hope I'm spelling his name right, don't have the book here). If I remember correctly, there is a poignant letter from him in Shadows on the Grass or maybe in her biography. Barb
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (6 of 71), Read 64 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, November 02, 2000 07:33 PM Even though it was two very different parts of Africa, and even though they were generations apart, as I read this book I kept thinking back to the novel DISGRACE. Somewhere in OUT OF AFRICA, Dinesen touches on the subject of the native's lack of empathy for animals..and it might have actually been in reference to the domestic dogs.. I loved the story of Lulu..I just thought Dinesen's anthropomorphism was delightful. Beej
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (7 of 71), Read 50 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 03:36 PM I am not trying to stir up trouble. Really, I am not. However, as I reread this, I have my antennae up as high as they will go in an attempt to detect this condescension toward the Somalis, the Masai, and all that you assure me is here. I find none of it. I find instead the neatest of little analyses concerning the races. The chapter Of the Two Races is brilliant. It starts: The relation between the white and the black race in Africa in many ways resembles the relation between the two sexes. Now I do see what one might characterize as stereotyping. For example, in Farah and the Merchant of Venice she observes: Coloured people do not take sides in a tale, the interest to them lies in the ingeniousness of the plot itself; and the Somali, who in real life have a strong sense of values, and a gift for moral indignation, give these a rest in their fiction. Maybe that is stereotyping. However, I have no basis to dispute the accuracy of that general observation about the Somali. Therefore, I must give her the benefit of the doubt. But one thing is for sure. It is not condescending. I wonder if those who are reading or rereading this one would kindly point out to me any rank examples of instances of condescension in the text when they run across them? Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (8 of 71), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 03:54 PM You know Steve, I'm not finding them either. This is a strange phenomenon. On Read Numero Uno, I didn't see it. Second time around, I thought, how could I have missed all the paternalistic (okay, maternalistic if you will) condescension? Ack. Now, on my third read, which I am thoroughly enjoying, I see little beyond a tendency to make generalizations (I prefer that word to "stereotype"). And generalizations are necessary any time one talks of people as a group. (CRs are all intelligent people.) Occasionally, she lapses into prose in which one can see that she almost considers the natives as a separate species, in particular, I just read the section on the deaf and dumb child, to whom she refers to as a wonderful creature. Creature? But that's only a tiny lapse. Mostly she seems to accord the natives the dignity they deserve. Now what in the world made me think otherwise on my second read? I do remain appalled, however, by how casually people are knocking off the animal population. But that was the times. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (9 of 71), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 04:59 PM But, Ruth, that creature remark is not so much creature as opposed to human but creature as in a creation a being -- one animal among animals and happens this one is a human animal -- I never felt that she was stereotyping or condescending in her descriptions or in her dealing with the native African people -- I think she did things which were not necessarily appropriate but which were not so far out of step with her times. Dottie -- who is hanging around here though not rereading this one at the moment. ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (10 of 71), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 05:50 PM Steve and all I don't notice any big distraction or weird attitude of her with other people and the people who work for her. However I find this book very depressing. Partly because of her great descriptions of the land/country/people. All this great description while she rapes the land. Six thousand acres? For COFFEE? I drink coffee, but I think after this book, so far, I may have just quit. Some how in the future this book will be remembered as a classic, yes. But as an account of how NOT to live on earth. she is for sure a great and typical representation of the human creature. Aren't we swell. But listen, I can see she had a great time knocking off animals and nature and taking over the land. What a hero. If a man had written this I wonder if it would be so revered?
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (11 of 71), Read 52 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 06:08 PM This was the time when these things were done -- Candy -- and coffee raising wasn't only an inflicted upon the land and people thing -- I don't think so at least. As for this particular coffee plantation thing -- it was a case of her trying to make something work which was thrown upon her to do -- or at least somewhat an evolution of a plan from what had been intended. I think the writing and the person are as much the point as leaning any "lesson" on how to live on the earth -- human beings are not going to resolve their issue with nature until they are resolved out existence IMHO -- and I'm not saying plunder the earth or abandon ecological movements -- just stating what I think is likely given the record. Dottie -- who seems to be in a very pessimistic mood -- maybe LM contributed ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (12 of 71), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 06:34 PM Sure sure "those were the days" when 'we used to' do those things. I think this book is the Starbucks Bible. Its only a hundred years ago, this way she lived is just the ways that civilization heads before it falls apart. I am reading an especially lovely edition. 1986 Century Publishing,found it on my sisters book shelves threw it in the car.There are watercolours and photos of pressed flowers and sketches of native art. It's nice.And lots of photos of "safaris" and princes holding dead animals. It's so pretentious I could vomit. Sure it's the way things were done, but they still are being done, South America for example. I mean Hemingway was thrown out by young people all through the 80's for this kind of stuff. I am not against hunting, but I am against totalitarian agriculture. So no matter how I look at it, this book is so depressing. I'm serious, I think I quit coffee. We are doing this to our own countries here too. In Canada and United States. We should watch out.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (13 of 71), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 06:48 PM You are criticizing the life the author lived. Should she not have written the book so that you would not know how things were ? And what about the writing. Doesn't grab you ? Dull ? Unartful ? FRUMIOUS BANDERSNATCH
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (14 of 71), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 06:55 PM Candy, I'm confused. What do you see wrong with her growing coffee in Kenya? As it turned out, the land was too high up to be really suited to the crop, but I'm not sure what else it was good for except grazing. We saw many coffee farms in Costa Rica when we were there last year, and it is my understanding that coffee has made a huge contribution to the economy there. Big game hunting is something that has never appealed to me, but I think I can at least partially understand its allure in earlier times when the animals were much more abundant. Maybe it would help if you look upon this book as a kind of history of a particular person, in a special place and time. Would it bother you to read history if you disapproved of the way the people acted? I guess my point, and I do have one :), is that it is not fair to apply our own standards to people who lived with different understandings and who followed other social rules. Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (15 of 71), Read 52 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 07:06 PM Steve, So far I think you are right. Dinesen may have described the natives as simplistic, but after all they were from a very primitive culture and were being exposed to some Western things for the first time. Naturally, they responded in an unsophisticated way. I loved her description of Kamante's fascination with her writing. Kamante didn't understand how all the loose papers could ever become a book until she explained it. Heck, if I had never seen a book, I wouldn't have understood it either. She says he then explained to the other houseboys how "in Europe the book which I was writing could be made to stick together, and that with terrible expense it could even be made as hard as the Odyssey...He himself, however, did not believe it could be made blue." That last line, about the impossibility of turning it into a blue book, is just a little too perfect. Literary license, perhaps? Ann Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (16 of 71), Read 48 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 07:31 PM Maybe condescension is the wrong word, but I was initially bothered when Dinesen referred to the natives as "my people". To me, this sounded like she viewed them as belonging to her, like her possessions. I think it's compounded by her use of wording that's unacceptable today but that was normal at the time -- such as "coloured people". As I said before, once you put aside today's mindset and view it as a record of her experience written in the terminology of the time, it becomes a remarkable insight into the lifestyle of the area and Dinesen's generation. Lynn
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (17 of 71), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 07:56 PM I agree that we can't demand that an author adhere to standards and mores that didn't exist at the time of their writing. I find this a wonderfully written hymn to the land and its beauty, a tale of a time and a place which we could never experience in any other way, and insight into one of the more interesting characters in literary history. BTW, seems to me I've read that ID and Beryl Markham (West with the Night) couldn't stand each other. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (18 of 71), Read 48 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 09:47 PM Pres, I think it's every thing make that EVERY thing that is important in life is to look at history and writing and information with what we know today. It's not coffee, I mean you're right Ann, the coffee part bugs me, everytime we buy a cup of coffee we are messing witht the environment in a coffee growing country. I don't have any qualms about how she writes about her slaves and the 'squatters' on "her" land. It seems to me that she treated her 'staff' very well. Sure she writes nicely. That doesn't mean she doesn't represent a very bizarre attitude that europeans had towards other countries. I understand that she was an ignorant woman and ignorant of nature and animals and as such she admired the relation the Natives had with nature. Something the Europeans had lost. They had rid their forests of wildlife no wonder it was so exotic to go to Africa. If it wasn't bad enough that Europeans knocked out all the wolves and bears in Europe they had to spread their energy around just to sell coffee. It's always money. This book is an amazing account of that kind of attitude.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (19 of 71), Read 47 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 10:45 PM I haven't gotten very far yet (too much time reading posts on CR). One thing that struck me (it's on p. 17 of my copy) is the paragraph that starts out, "The love of woman and womanliness is a masculine characteristic..." The rest of the paragraph is really her views of people from various different countries. So, I saw her expressing her opinions (or the opinions of her time and class) about more than just Africa. FWIW. As for the writing style, the thing that comes across to me is the vastness of the land. The images that she draws of the land are more vivid than any of the pictures I've seen. My favorite so far (p. 15), "I had seen a herd of Buffalo, one hundred and ninety-nine of them, come out of the morning mist under a copper sky, one by one, as if dark and massive, iron-like animals with the mighty horizontally swung horns were not approaching, but were being created before my eyes and sent out as they were finished." Coffee: I haven't read this book yet, but I saw the author on BookTV and went out and got it. Mark Pendergrast, Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World. It looks like everything you ever wanted to know about the history of coffee along with market analysis and social history. On my 'list'. Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (20 of 71), Read 48 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 10:59 PM I agree, Bo, the images of the land are striking. Some of the best word-pictures I've ever read. More beautiful than anything we saw in the movie---and it was damn beautiful. (And I don't mean Redford.) Her love of this place shines. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (21 of 71), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, November 05, 2000 11:30 PM Ruth, Beryl Markham ended up with Denys Finch Hatton, the love of Dinesen's life. No, she didn't like her one bit. Incidentally, I also thoroughly enjoyed Markham's WEST WITH THE NIGHT, although there have been accusations that her screen writer husband wrote much of it. Bo, let us know if you ever get a chance to delve into that coffee book. I agree that what makes this book special is not only its subject, but the beautiful prose. It really is a pleasure to read. It amazes and humbles me to read such beautiful English when that is not even the author's native language. Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (22 of 71), Read 52 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 02:15 AM Ann, That reminds me, was this written in English? I didn't see a translator on the copy I have (though I did look). I'm lazy but didn't someone here mention reading it in the original language? Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (23 of 71), Read 50 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 08:32 AM Lynn, I think you are correct. The choice of language is what may have created the illusion of condescension. I find this very interesting. We are uncomfortable with her use of the word "coloured," for example. Yet for us, the phrase "people of color" has become very fashionable and correct. On Pres's point, consider this statement: The Native mind works in strange ways, and is related to the mind of by-gone people, who naturally imagined that Odin, so as to see through the whole world, gave away one of his eyes; and who figured the God of love as a child, ignorant of love. The use of the word "Native" is out of fashion. However, we would be perfectly comfortable had she used the word "indigenous people." As to the substance of the statement, Pres would ask whether she is precluded from reporting her experience of how the minds of the indigenous people worked if those workings make the indigenous people appear primitive in some way? The interesting thing here is that she illustrates the thinking of these people by offering examples from the antecedents of her own culture. The important thing from my point of view is that she never displays anything but dispassionate reporting on these things regarding the Kikuyu. Never does she say anything that even implies that their culture is less worthwhile than hers. Moreover, she does not try to profoundly change them. (Except in matters of health and sanitation practices. She would have been irresponsible not to do that.) That is why this truly is a classic in my opinion. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (24 of 71), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 08:39 AM Candy, certainly anytime a people grow crops--and agriculture marks one of man's great steps forward, they alter the environment. I grant you that. However, where in this book is the rape of the environment revealed other than the fact that this farm grew coffee? The farm was near the Masai reserve on which no farming took place. So we had some land devoted to farming near a great parcel of land reserved for a nomadic grazing culture and apparently pristine. Wherein the offense here? Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (25 of 71), Read 50 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 08:41 AM One other question I have. Where in this book do we learn that Denys Finch-Hatton was the author's lover? That one has always puzzled me. I am sure that I missed something. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (26 of 71), Read 53 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 08:48 AM On 11/6/00 8:41:48 AM, Steve Warbasse wrote: >One other question I have. >Where in this book do we learn >that Denys Finch-Hatton was >the author's lover? That one >has always puzzled me. I am >sure that I missed something. > >Steve > Steve -- you are tempting me here! I really want to go read this again but am trying not to right now -- but such posts as these! I may have to be weak and find a copy of this! Sigh. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (27 of 71), Read 53 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 09:05 AM Who am I kidding? Why am I hanging out reading this thread if I'm really trying NOT to reread this? UNCLE. Dottie -- who now begins the search for a copy of Out of Africa -- two sighs ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (28 of 71), Read 57 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 09:20 AM Lynn: Dinesen's use of the term "my people" doesn't grate on me any more than when it's used by modern-day CEOs...which, as you'll note, is pretty darned often. But, it's a tricky call. "Employees" sounds non-PC and subservient. "Staff" may be a slight improvement, except that it has to be distinguished from "management," an important distinction of corporate class and food-chain. "Associates" sounds pretentious and euphemistic to me. So, I dunno. My favorite cartoon on the subject, though, appeared in The New Yorker a good while back. It shows two businessmen sitting on either side of a big conference table. In front of each man on the table is a little bunch of one-foot-tall men and women in business suits with briefcases and laptops. In the caption, one of the CEOs is saying, "I'll have my people get with your people." >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (29 of 71), Read 59 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 09:35 AM Dale, I guess that's part of why I'm not in the corporate world anymore -- I got tired of being one of some paternalistic CEO's "people". {G} Lynn
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (30 of 71), Read 66 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 09:53 AM Lynn: Good for you! I had to escape corporate America too. Self-employment has a different ton of slings and arrows...having to keep a dozen clients happy instead of one boss, for instance...but I'll take 'em. Hey, it beats growing coffee. {G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (31 of 71), Read 59 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 10:31 AM I was a bit surprised anybody could come away from this book without the highest regard for Dinesen. I saw a woman who entered a unique part of the world and acted as physician, educator, mediator, employer, mentor and friend. I found Dinesen's writing to be simply... exquisite. Beej
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (32 of 71), Read 61 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 10:57 AM Me, too, BEEJ FRUMIOUS BANDERSNATCH
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (33 of 71), Read 55 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:53 AM Hey I never said I didn't like her writing, it's okay. It's even sweet sometimes. I have no issue with how she talks about her staff. She seems respectful of her employees even. I read a lot of nature writing. Make that a LOT. This is okay. I am trying to forgive her her trespasses. I also tried to give what I saw a s a very very good example of what bothers me about the attitude of Europeans when they traipsing all over the joint like they owned the place! The part where she lets her dogs chase (probably tormenting) the game, because it looks pretty. Come on you have to see I pulled out a very good example of (a trite pompous ignorant) European style Manifest Destiny. Am I the only nature lover around here? Pres, I have to hold this up to the light against...Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Hemingway, Tom MaGuane, Wade Davis, Diane Fossey, Charles Darwin, Gerald Durrell,Daniel Quinn,Jane Goodall... Just because a book is politically correct doesn't mean I have to like it does it? Or respect the writing? Again, I don't see any objections for her and her staff. This is not a book about loving just Africa, it's a book about being a business woman. Karen Blixen(my copy says that name)was an entrepreneur first and foremost. On that aspect I am enjoying the book, it's more to do with success than Africa or nature to me. Here is another example... She talks about her pet gazelle Lulu...etc... " 'Look here now,' he said, 'Lulu has explained to her husband that there is nothing up by the houses to be afraid of, but all the same he dares not come.Every morning he thinks that to-day he will come all the way, but, when he sees the house and the people, he gets a cold stone in the stomach-this is a common thing in the Native world world, and often gets in the way of the work on the farm-'and then he stops by the tree.' Actually what I am enjoying in this book is the eventuallity of the over whelming of nature to a farm and the separation from the people who live in Africa and Blixen who tries to profit from Africa. Mother Nature is a humbling mistress and I do believe like great nature stories this one shows how feeble humans are. Remember Exxon Valldez? It was said it would ruin the ocean, but Nature kicked back and even such a big oil spill was a blip on Earth.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (34 of 71), Read 47 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 07:40 AM This is a very interesting book in another way too. Isak Dinesen got the best of both worlds. First she had to sign as a man to get published. And now vegetarian women clutching this book in the halls of universities wouldn't be reading this UNLESS she was a woman. This has managed to be a 'politically correct' book because of a double standard.It really makes me laugh. You all may have figured out by now I'm not politically correct(see Feminism thread ha ha). There are parts in here that I guess you'd have to have some experience with hunting and gaming and nature watching to see why I find them so offensive. This following passage reminds me of what...some crazy tourists redneck types trying their hand at nature... "It was as if the great, spare landscape, with the plains hills, and rivers, was not complete until the deerhounds were also in it. All the deerhounds were great hunters and had more nose than greyhounds,but they hunted by sight and it was a highly wonderful thing to see two of them working together. I took them with me when I was out riding in the Game Reserve, which I was not allowed to do, and there they would spread the herds of zebra and wildebeast over the plain, as if it were all the stars of heaven running wild over the sky. But when I was out in the Masai Reserve shooting I never lost a wounded head of game if I had the deerhounds with me. They looked well in the native forests too, dark grey in the sombre green shades. One of them, in here, all by himself, killed a big old male baboon, and in the fight had his nose bitten straight through, which spoilt his noble profile but by everybody on the farm was considered an honourable scar, for the baboons are destructive beasts and the Natives detest them." I don't know if any self respecting sportsman or hunter or nature lover would act this way:breaking sanctions by letting dogs chase game simply because it looks pretty. I think there is an incredible double standard at work here and if this was a male author this book would not be so sentimental to us. (believe me I am not immune to the romantic aspect of a woman out there acting like a redneck man) I think someone pointed out earlier the aspect of pets/dogs here and how this plays back into understanding Disgrace. I agree with that statement. Pres, in clearer answer to your question about the writing...yes I think some of the writing is enjoyable. I think we can see and give grace because she is Danish and probably didn't write this in English and forgive her her extra sentences starting with "But" etc. Also, I don't care how 'well written' a book is usually. I am a snob about content, not style.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (35 of 71), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:07 AM "And now vegetarian women clutching this book in the halls of universities wouldn't be reading this UNLESS she was a woman." Good one, Candy. I spit coffee on my computer, as indicator of how hard my funny-bone was tweaked. Dick, The Friendly Lawyer
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (36 of 71), Read 50 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:16 AM If one is offended by hunting, then one if offended by hunting whether it is done with or without dogs. Dogs run game. No question about that. I respect the anti-hunting stance in an age when hunting is no longer necessary to eat. But the running of game with dogs as a measure of anti-nature attitudes? I dunno. Your sacred wolf is the greatest game runner in the world. Hyena run game, too. Canine and feline creatures in nature nearly all run game. Is it simply that when it's done under human auspices, this makes it offensive per se? The coffee thing puzzles me. Coffee cultivation can be one of the least environmentally destructive of crop activities. Sugar and cotton are much more consistently destructive. Much of the world's coffee is grown with intensive hand cultivation on small plats where the bushes are mixed with shade trees. This method is not destructive to wildlife or the environment generally. Then there are the huge plantations regarding which the environmental issues nearly all revolve around the use of commercial herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, nematicides, and fertilizers. However, this was not an issue on Dinesen's farm and in her time. In fact my impression from this text is that her methods conformed more with that used on the smaller present-day plats described above. Candy, are you sure that you are not bringing some attitudinal baggage to your reading of this book that is unfair to the author? Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (37 of 71), Read 54 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:35 AM Candy, ID wrote in English. And as far as I can remember, she did not choose that pseudonym because she couldn't get published as a woman, but I'd have to check that. I had no idea she was being touted in women's lit courses, tho. But that's not necessarily the kiss of death. :) (I discovered this book about 30 years ago.) I, too, am put off by the idea of hunting/killing as sport. But she was living in different times and a far different place, and I can make allowances for that. In many ways her ideas regarding Africa and the Africans were far ahead of her times. She was a fascinating woman. She married a cousin, becoming the Baroness Von Blixen. If you thought Philip was a jerk, you should meet Bror Blixen. A thorough boor, who, among other things, managed to give her the syphilis she eventually died from. She ran that farm by herself while he was out patooting around the countryside, shooting, drinking, whoring and hanging out with the boys. If anyone like to know more about ID I highly recommend a biography by Judith Thurman. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312135254/constantreader Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (38 of 71), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:41 AM Ruth -- Thurman's biography was an excellent read -- absolutely. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (39 of 71), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:41 AM Pres, the troublemaker, has arrived: Are mere men allowed to read WOMEN'S books? FRUMIOUS BANDERSNATCH
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (40 of 71), Read 46 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:47 AM Who says this is a "woman's book?" Not me. This is a "people book." Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (41 of 71), Read 54 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:57 AM Of course one of the biggest pieces of baggage many of us bring to this book is the film of the same title, admittedly a visually stunning one. However, consider as you read the book what Brenda Cooper of Utah State University points out in her thesis, a point I happen to adamantly agree with based upon my reading of this book: Recent research indicates that questionable choices are made in order to fit womenís stories to the ideological structures that dominate mainstream Hollywood films. As one example, in Sydney Pollackís Out of Africa, the parts of Isak Dinesenís original stories that resist patriarchal and political ideals of race, gender and religion are omitted, while the parts that survive distort Dinesenís unconventional stories in ways that reinforce patriarchy and conform to conventional American ideologies [footnote omitted]. The major themes of Dinesenís autobiography were her criticisms of colonialism and her deep affection for Africa and the indigenous people she lived and worked with for nearly 20 years on her coffee farm in Kenya. The Kenyansí pain and the European settlersí bigotry that were major themes in Out of Africa, however, are nonexistent in Pollackís film version, replaced with narratives that glorify rather than criticize the colonial effort and settlers. Dinesen poignantly expressed her grief over the changes the European settlers had forced on Kenyans and their culture, and her compassion for their struggles to maintain their identity and dignity. In the film, however, Dinesen is recast as one of the "offending European settlers, forcing her will on the native people without any sensitivity to their wishes or culture" [footnote omitted]. Further, the compassion Dinesen expressed for the country and its people in her autobiography are appropriated by the filmís leading male character, Denys Finch Hatton. The real Finch Hatton was committed to the colonial effort, but in the film he is represented as Dinesenís moral superior. Explaining why he changed Isak Dinesenís story so dramatically for his film, Pollack remarked: "For film purposes, it seemed . . . [that] invention was much more economical than the facts and dramatically much better" [footnote omitted]. This captures precisely why I so love seeing great books made into films for the mass market. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (42 of 71), Read 52 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 11:57 AM OOps I didn't see this new thread part and I post way back up there not reading these yet and my other post was just below Pres and Beej...etc...
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (43 of 71), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 12:10 PM Steve, yes yes Of course I'm bringing baggage to this book. And all books I read. Above I say that I read a lot of nature books, some written before karen Blixen went to Africa blah blah so yes I am going to bring what little knowledge I have of the world with me to reading. I think it would be a scary thought NOT to do so...I knew about the second world war before I'd ever read Nietzche or Mein Kamf or Diary of Anne Frank. I can't help that. In many ways that is a good thing. I wish some of the lousy skinheads in the world had heard of or served in war before they read whateever it is those brats read. You know? No Karen Blixen isn't the dirge of the world. She's not the worst agriculturalist or boss either. She was pretty nice to her people. She was the Martha Stewart of Africa in her day. They probably both had the same amount of staff ha ha. but as I said earlier, I bring to nature and history and agricultural readings some of these names: Charles Darwin, Gerald Durrell, David Attenbourough, Daniel Quinn,Dianne Fossey etc etc... I would encourage people to read from that list, but I wouldn't likely add Karen Blixen to it. Yes dogs chase game. But can you imagine some guy a big old tough guy saying, I let my dogs chase game because it was pretty come on!!!! Stars in the heavens or what ever she said! Dogs are part of human cultivation. As a matter of fact my earlier point was that one WOULDN'T just let their dogs chase game. There is a big difference between wolves say, and then the domestic numbers of dogs we have. A month ago I was at a bird sanctuary and all the no dog signs well that was a waste of money not only were there dogs, they weren't even on leads!!!!(cats should probably stay inside too because they hunt birds as well, Natural Science magazine had a study on this years ago in England the cats were wiping out sections of birds)
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (44 of 71), Read 48 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 12:25 PM Okay. Fair enough. I guess the only minor little point on which we differ is that I would add Karen Blixen's name to that list of authors. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (45 of 71), Read 53 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 12:36 PM Okay. Well you know, I might just think about what you said and add it too. I like all the variations those lists of writers offer including MsBlixen
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (46 of 71), Read 52 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 12:49 PM All, the quotation from Brenda Cooper's thesis is far too long, and I apologize for that. My only point is that one has to be constantly on guard against one's reading of a great book or a great play being colored by some goddamned movie rendition of it. It is a pet subject of mine, but I will spare you the usual rant. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (47 of 71), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 12:54 PM I saw this movie when it came out. It's a family anecdote. My daughter and I went together, she must have been about 6 or 7 and we both LOVE Redford(a bad movie The Devils Own we call a mother/daughter movie because it has Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford appealing to us both) and part way through she fell asleep and woke up to me all swollen eyed and no Redford.She was "what what?!" It was one of those things where she really noticed how much can happen in a movie.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (48 of 71), Read 55 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 12:54 PM I've read most of those authors, Candy, and I have a degree in geology with a minor in zoology. But I think I would leave Dinesen off that list. NOT because I don't think she wrote a marvelous book. But because I don't think this is a nature book. It's a book about a country and its people and how she lived there. It's about scenery, and race, and a time and place. And we're going down a side path when we deflect the discussion over to PC environmental issues. Not that they aren't important, they're just not the heart of this book, the way I read it. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (49 of 71), Read 42 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 01:59 PM Steve, Quite a bit earlier you asked where in this book we learn that Denys Finch Hatton is her lover.... which is something I've been looking for every step of the way without success. As far as I can tell (and I will admit that I'm only about 3/4 done), she refers to him as nothing more than a friend. However, he IS a friend who has the run of the farm whenever he likes, including when she's back in Europe, so one must assume that he's a very good friend. The other thing that puzzles me is that I have yet to read anything about the baron/cousin she married or the marriage itself for that matter. Her tale so far has pretty much ignored her husband and would lead one to assume that she lives by herself (understandably so, based on the information about him that you posted earlier). Lynn
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (50 of 71), Read 42 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 02:05 PM Candy, I believe Dinesen states in OUT OF AFRICA that once she began to manage the farm she stopped shooting animals except for food or to prevent them from destroying livestock. without reading through all these posts, was that not a concern of yours? Beej
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (51 of 71), Read 43 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 02:16 PM Lynn, the marriage was partly a marriage of convenience to begin with, and it rapidly went from bad to worse. Bror Blixen from all accounts was an insufferable boor. Mostly he was out careering about the countryside, drinking, shooting and womanizing, leaving Dinesen to run the farm herself. I think Dinesen just didn't want to get into that, so she left him out. Just as she left out the exact nature of her relationship with D F-H. She keeps the focus on the country, the people and her relationships with them. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (52 of 71), Read 41 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 02:21 PM Lynn, apparently, Denys did shack up with her after her divorce. Also apparently, she miscarried at least one pregnancy by him. I have not finished my reread, but my recollection is that this all played no part whatsoever in the book entitled Out of Africa. It was just too delicious a thing for the movie folks not to capitalize on, however, in a film entitled Out of Africa. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (53 of 71), Read 44 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 02:30 PM I should dig this one out, I suppose, and give it another shot. One of the enduring sticking points with my first wife was her great enthusiasm for this book and my inability to finish it. It just seemed bland to me, but then I've never had, even remotely, any kind of African thing. Dick, The Friendly Lawyer
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (54 of 71), Read 45 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 03:44 PM Geez, Dick, why do you need to have an African thing to finish this? And besides you have Alaska -- right? Just kidding you a bit there aboutfinishing the book, Dick, okay? But this is really what Ruth said and not at all about nature per se though Candy has the colonial attitude thing nailed -- just not Blixen's relationship to that colonial attitude. Bror was a sort of substitute for Blixen's love -- who married someone else -- and it seems to me that it was a case of a person she believed was going to become engaged to her married a relative of hers or -- maybe he died. The end result was that Bror the boor (good description there Ruth) stepped in and offered her a "suitable" marriage and an escape from the untenable situation created by this event because he was headed to Africa and she would thus be far from home and the situation. The marriage was to be of convenience but it is indicated in the biography I think that she and Bror did indeed find a comfortable and loving relationship for some period of time before he went off on a tear and eventually was never there except for that rare visit when he managed to bring her death to her as Ruth indicates. R-H was icing -- and for much of their friendship it seems to me the indication was that it was a platonic though strongly sensual and love-filled friendship and the actual affair was brief and perhaps put a pall on the overall relationship which they had developed. My reading of it gave me this idea at any rate. Steve -- yes, the movie and the book are very apart from one another BUT if one has the story in one's head -- the film can be read more in the right frame of understanding -- or at least I think so. I've read not only Out of Africa but the biography Ruth posted here and another which -- escapes me entirely title and author as well as some of her collected stories -- and I'm sorry but that scenery and those animals (which to be honest -- I'd be more concerned over the animals in Africa during the filming of this than what Blixen herself may have done -- though I am not saying she did not do anything at all -- just indicating at this stage the problems are deeper) -- well, anyway, Steve -- I GET your take and agree but I'm hooked on that movie. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (55 of 71), Read 45 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 03:49 PM I'm with Steve on the movie, Dottie. I found it absolutely gorgeous, but deeply unsatisfying, a mere shadow of the book, and not a very accurate one at that. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (56 of 71), Read 42 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 03:49 PM I'm glad you said that Dick, this just is not that interesting a diary to me. I find it kind of frustrating her hovering over the affairs of the people. I was kind of looking forward to some sex and running around in the hot weather. I've drummed up what little enthusiasim I can find for this with my outrage for Colonialism. Beej, we had this big seller up here calle dCougar Annies Garden. And basically I was hoping to get some information on the possibility of growing a few things on the west coast particularily rainforest and wind stricken bluffs. What this is is an account of her killing cougars and bear(they climbed her apple and pear trees to snack). Again, in treehugging west coast I can't really see this selling if it had been written/lived by a guy. The profits for this book I think are going for the environmentalists to save the area she lived in from loggers. It's so crazy. So yes, killing off the animals so people can grow a garden etc in Africa, I find offensive. I mean they had ALREADY done this sort of thing all over Europe. When I was in Germany last year, it was so weird to hardly see a bird, nevermind beaver or bear! I can't say it was because of the times, because these colonists knew this and left Europe because they had stripped the forests even of the FORESTS! I don't think this book is condescending, but it is kind of smug with her ideas of the Natives and their beliefs and customs. But hearing of their customs does keep me interested somewhat...
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (57 of 71), Read 42 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 03:55 PM Oh I just read those posts Ruth and Dottie I guess we crossed on the internet. I have to say, I can not even see how they got the movie or this book anywhere near from each other! Hollywood!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (58 of 71), Read 41 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 04:40 PM Ruth -- I wasn't very clear there -- I am trying to say that when I view this film I basically am watching my own version of this film -- I am overlaying the writing of Out of Africa and the biographical info onto the film and enjoying the FULL story and the much more accurate story against that lush scenery and among those animals and people -- is that explanation any better? I absolutely agreed with Steve's assessment of the weaknesses in the film as compared with the book. No real argument -- I'm just not willing to give up the film because they were idiots when they made it. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (59 of 71), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 07:13 PM The film got one thing exactly right and it was spectacular. I am referring to the fabulous aerial shots from the airplane, which was supposedly being flown by Denys with Karen Blixen (yes, that's her real name) as a passenger. Candy, are you saying that animals should have priority over people? You mentioned something about finding it offensive that animals are killed so people can plant a garden. Is this okay except in Africa? Charles Darwin did write about nature but he also came up with the idea of survival of the fittest. The natural world he wrote about could be very brutal. We shouldn't romanticize it. Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (60 of 71), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 06, 2000 08:02 PM Oh brother, I don't know if should even touch that one about animal lives over humans. Eek.I am not a vegetarian, the opposite. I eat protein protein protein and almost nothing but. No soya bean protein here! But I am very concerned about farming and totalitarian farming. I think maybe we could try to come up with ways to grow food in cities to supplement other farming. I don't think I would personally feel very good about taking a baboon heart to save my own life. I think animals and humans(humans are animals too) are of equal value to nature and maybe even to god. Actually nature would probably be fine without humans if we just went missing. I'm not so sure god really seems interested in what humans do. Seems to keep pretty quiet on that score.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (61 of 71), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 02:22 AM Candy -- Ouch {G}. For those who believe it -- humans were given dominion over the animals -- but interpret THAT one at your own risk. I for one am not interested in opening that can of worms here. What I see here is that opinions on such matters are entangled very closely oftentimes with just such personal and volatile beliefs of the individuals and that it is best not to overlay them on a discussion which needs to remain at a certain remove in order to be accomplished at all. Now Candy, having said all that -- I'm giving you two -- to balance the earlier see-saw on the family and child raising stuff in Being Dead discussion -- one: yes, we need to do something about the production of foodstuffs when so much of the world is starving at any given time and two: I would not only not feel very good about taking a baboon's heart to save my own life -- I would not do so if by that is meant the actual transplanting of the heart into my body -- cause I really don't believe in that. I am on a very blurred line in the organs vs tissue thing in today's medical advances -- but again -- I don't want to start with that line either -- agreed? Echoing others comments elsewhere -- I don't rousing discussion needs to be feared here at all, at all though we don't want blood drawn and folks crawling off into he corners -- {G}. As I think I told you earlier -- you are rattling my cages a bit but that's good and I love the rambling of your notes when you get really excited about something. Ann -- Candy didn't like the depopulation of the animals in the forest nor the deforestation of the forests nor farming and gardens anywhere at animal expense from what I can gather from the posts BUT -- she answered your post herself and this comment is only my own conclusion on her stated opinions. My OWN thinking would be that if this were a viable position we'd go back to Creation/Evolution and be stuck in that circle rather than discussing Blixen/Dinesen's book -- {G}. I MUST agree on those aerials and those are part of my refusal to surrender the film to the usual abandonment it would meet when it is otherwise so far from accurate concerning so many things in the book. Dottie -- who thinks she'll pipe down now and go breathe and have her breakfast tea ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (62 of 71), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 06:08 PM Interesting.For a lot of this book, my eyes glazed over from one cow for this two chickens for that shoot this shoot that... What do you think is the purpose of this book? It's strange I see her as really mellowing to the struggle between man and nature by the end of this bbook. How much ambition it must have taken to run a farm...but somewhere in this in the iguana story, it's as if she comes down from her rich or well bred horse...she talks about buying a bracelet from someone that she admires and when she puts it on it seems to lose it's colour. This because the design suited a darker skin. Then she sees a dead iguana and she talks of a warrior who kills all his enemies but then says,"I have conquered them all, but I am standing amongst graves" At the end of this ditty she says...To the settlers of East Africa I give the advice:'For the sake of your own eyes and heart, shoot not the iguana'. I think this book shows just how far away the modern way of making a living(growing food, killing attackers of livestock, materialism, colonialism)has brought people and how removed from life we are. At the very last lines she sees how 'the outline of the mountain was slowly smoothed away and leveled out by the hand of the distance.' This is like time to ones life or perspective things are leveled out in or over time, in history in memory... I was a total wreck when Denys died and when her squatters had to find a new place to live. How this was their land always and it had been so taken over and now they had to be shuffled around again. The lions on Denys grave, oh man...I went through a whole cotton tea towel! To my mind he really was admirable in some ways, he chose to live almost as a nomad(okay he shacked up between adventures he had a fear of commitment like a lot of people haha) and I see her as really maybe learning something. Like what was up with almost shooting her dogs and horses!? I think we really saw how she worked in her mind, her running away from Europe because of a boyfriend problem and then at first she was going to shoot her dogs. It was so harsh and somehow her friends convinced her to give them to them. Good grief. It was a bit if she couldn't have them no body could, but I actually think she may have learned and revised herself over the progress of this book. The iguana passage was impressive. I would have to agree with you Steve and Ruth that I would include this on a nature reading list because it does so well at demonstrating a mindset of those days of how disconnected we were to animals and ethnocentricity that we now strive to think and look beyond and more compassionately, and more informed of our actions. I think she really did exhibit a bit of wisdom and grace by the end of the book.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (63 of 71), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 06:51 PM Candy, you misunderstood. I would NOT include this on a list of great nature books because I don't think it's about nature at all, or at least very minimally. I would include it on a list of great memoirs because to me it is about what it was like to live in a certain place at a certain time, and how it was to love the land and the people, yet have to leave them. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (64 of 71), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 07:16 PM Ha ha well thats me in a nutshell I am very slow learner. I will think about your definition of Out Of Africa. I can't help but see it as this incredible insight to people and nature and land and farming and the sometime futility of human endeavors and even the fragility of love. I see it as insightful historically, long before Silent Spring(Rachel Carson) and long before we were thinking about how we treat aboriginals. I have in my head the interesting book Guns, Germs and Steel and have had a slight comparison of these books quietly in the back of my head. I am really struck by the fragility of human action a the the same time its power. thanks for reading my post Ruth I value your views. They make me think.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (65 of 71), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 10:55 PM Gee, leave a thread for a day and look what happens! I've gotta make a few comments before my mind blows up from all this input. :) Candy, I'm with Steve on the not-hunting if you don't need to for food theme. I have to say, though, that I didn't read the passage about the dogs hunting the way you did. She said in that passage that because of the dogs, none of the wounded game was left to suffer. (I considered that to be pretty responsible.) The problem with the dogs she was using was that they were bred to hunt. That's a problem with all breeding of all hunting dogs and we could debate the ethics of people doing that. The dogs she was using were sight hounds. They're very beautiful animals to watch work. I have to say that I appreciate watching working dogs of all sorts. Just like watching a border collie herd sheep, watching a sight hound work or a retriever retrieve---there's something about watching an animal do the work it's bred to do. Steve, as for the coffee, I think it's the international market's demand for it and how this has strained various economies that's part of the 'badness'. A similar case could be made for other 'drugs' like cocaine. (Yeah, I drink coffee but have been caffeine-free for a few years.) I'm glad I never could get into the movie, I don't have that baggage coming to the book. Has anyone read Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, ed. Mark C. Carnes? My copy came today. This and other recent discussions made me want to look at this issue. Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (66 of 71), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 11:56 PM I love those dogs. I am a dog freak. I just feel that some of this was hard to take. The most important to me though is the energy, and a few have made this point and including Ruth this afternoon. That this is the story of some one who 'knew how to live' in the old timey way. I appreciated her feelings about the iguana, and letting Africa lie. I love how full her days were. It cracks me up she had all that fine tableware. In many ways she kind of reminded me of the energy of my mums mother. She had a summer camp, no electricity, no raod, and she had all these lovely dishes and china, and fiesta ware and thirties chairs and couches that she lugged out to the camp. And my grandmother come to think of it had a 'staff' she would hire the local Indians to cut down trees etc. My gran the Martha Stewart of Lake of The Woods! Really her Denys were such exceptional people. I get that honest. The idea of a man like that dying as early as he did is just sad to me. And it's true they really did see them selves in those times as living well, even if it gets me ill to think of the effect on the Natives or the wild life, the memoir ends with how she feels time and landscapes swallows us... ish...
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (67 of 71), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, November 08, 2000 12:46 AM How do you think 'place' affects our worldview? Do you that Dinesson was in conflict with her environment/place or whatever you want to call it and that's why she felt as though it 'swallowed her'? Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (68 of 71), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, November 08, 2000 06:40 AM I have been wondering this too. this has a lot to do with how this book sits with me. As a record of living 'out of touch' with nature , or fighting nature. Which in so many ways sure we have to do, but her life was a mixture of connectedness and unconnectedness. It was interesting as a record of a culture being assimilated by totalitarian agriculture as well to me. Place? Well place does have a lot maybe everything to do with how we make a living. I am still thinking...
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (69 of 71), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, November 08, 2000 08:44 PM Candy, Some people chose to go where they have work and others go to a place that they resonate with and then look for work. (What do you think was Dinessen's choice?) I've done a lot of reading and thinking about the role of 'place' in our lives. Perhaps I'll start a thread on it at some point. About 6 years ago I got divorced and chose where to live. I grew up in the flat open midwest and needed the 'feel' of that in my surroundings. I bought a hayfield which has one of the only 360 degree views of the sky in my general area. I've also been thinking a lot about how one's surroundings affect who they are. Something else that might relate to the book we're reading. :) Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (70 of 71), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, November 08, 2000 11:09 PM I don't understand all the reasons of how Blixen got to Africa. I'm not sure if it was choice. When I think of where people are and how it affects how they make a living(get food)I am thinking of weather and location. Bo, super interesting thoughts. I know what is it about place? I feel like I repeat myself a lot, so excuse me if I am again, here as I have mentioned this story before...The Ice Palace. I was reminded of it(but it takes nothing to make me think of this story! I love it)when we discussed Eveline. I think it's true that place is a big part of how we can feel about ourselves. I find it fascinating for the last few thousand years we have lived or our stories have encouraged us to belong to place. For millions of years our place was on the earth. We were nomads. In the last hundred or so years we have shuffled our 'cousins' who were still living as we mostly have to our agricultural place trained lifestyle. And yet so much of my favourite literature and paintings have so much to do with the light and environment that inspired the artist. How transcendental that we love Van Goghs Starry Night. The world loves it. I loved long before I made it to see it in the flesh. This suggests to me some biological and natural attraction to all sorts of places even the exotic. How to explain all those ads for Escape perfume or trips to "Atlantis" in the Bahamas or warm beaches in the middle of Toronto! The attraction to place is so many things because we love to have a place we feel centered and yet we love the opposite, the adventure the holiday the exotic! Some of my favourite books have as much to do with their settings as th characters. Harry Crews New Orleans in The Knock Out Artist. Or his Florida. Or John D MacDonalds Florida!! The desert/west in Cormac McCarthys Blood Meridian, Montana in The Good Brother by Chris Offut,A star in Slaughter House Five. The farms in Wendell Berry,the orgiastic light in The Great Gatsby. A coma in a hospital in The World I Made For Her. A good writer makes us know a place if we have never even been there by making us feel at home, some how including us. And I think there may be some cultural and biological part of us that is sensual when it comes to place and loving all of the places on Earth because it is necessary for our survival to be able to move, love a new place, adapt and arrange and engage in all the landscapes. I am very turned on by your study of this theme,of place, are you writing something about it? I think that would be welcomed work. !!! My head is spinning with the possibilities of this topic! I read somethings last year that had an interesting turn on 'place'. And this is with story telling too. Two odd books called The Secret Of The Incas and Hamlets Mill. An example of stories and place and I am very paraphrasing here so give me a sec, is take Noahs Ark. Then take Mount Arafat as an arrow on the horizon. Think of all the names of constellations the animals that don't seem to relate to the shape of the stars. The authors suggest that Noahs Ark is a hunting guide. The animals all enter the Ark...and as each animal hits the horizon and near the Ark is a time that that animal is for hunting.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (71 of 71), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Thursday, November 09, 2000 08:40 AM More on the idea that Blixen became part of who she was because of where she was...it is difficult for me to tell this idea from this book. I really don't know anything about how she lived before. (This is one of the few memoirs I put into my reading.)I don't remember her drawing any comparrisons between her 'european self' and her 'african self'. I enjoyed hearing about your haystack! It is not at all how I imagined Old Mystic to look like, or to even have feilds, I had to go look at my road atlas! I am sending you a photo of me in one of my favourite places. I don't know how to put pictures here.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (72 of 82), Read 36 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, November 09, 2000 11:35 AM Candy, if you really want to learn more about Blixen herself, that bio I recommended earlier is a good read, with lots of photos. What an interesting life. I think she kind of "found" herself when she came to Africa. She got there by a chain of circumstances in which, if I remember correctly, she was kind of a passive partner. She really bloomed in Africa. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (73 of 82), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 01:38 AM I am still near the beginning of the book. I'm reading a chapter at a time with a few days inbetween. What strikes me so far is the vast difference between her writing when she's talking about the scenery/place/Africa---the stuff of wide scope and when she's talking about people. So far she's only described the Kikuyu and the two churches. This chapter seems disjointed and more distant. I'm wondering if the condensension and attitudes that some were seeing in this have as much to do with the writing style (it also seems colder) than anything else . Pres asked: >>And what about the writing. Doesn't grab you ? Dull ? Unartful ? It doesn't grab me. At first I thought it was going to but I haven't been compelled to read this (obviously). :) It's not dull, either. But then it's also changing and as I said, this last chapter is disjointed. I wonder if some of what I see as disjointed is her 'setting the scene' for much of what is to come. It *is* unique, though. Has anyone read other books/stories by her? How do they compare in style and content? Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (74 of 82), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 01:59 AM Her other stuff is very different. Much of it is fables. I can't say I like it, although I did like Babette's Feast. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (75 of 82), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 08:30 AM I'm going very slow on this one too, Bo, but I'm guessing that it has more to do with my life than the book. I actually think that it reads more like a book of essays on various topics and people in Kenya than anything else. There are chapters that I find to be absolute gems and others that are just okay. But, if you don't usually like essay writing, I'm betting that you won't care for this one. There's a short chapter later in the book about a professor who wants to shoot hundreds of monkeys for research that I thought was one of the best. At the end, the professor talks about actually believing in God for a moment after looking at a particularly awesome sight and Dinesen says that the question is whether God believes in the professor. I am also just astounded at her descriptive writing as many have said here. Barb
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (76 of 82), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 09:41 AM I'm wending my way through this book for the second time slowly too, although in my case it is definitely because real life is horning in on my book life. Some people previously commented on the importance of place to our sense of who we are and what we become. I think that "place" was especially important for Dinesen. Africa allowed her to blossom and really experience life. Like Ruth, I have also read and can highly recommend Judith Thurman's biography of Dinesen. From that account of her life, I think the only time Dinesen was truly happy was the period she spent in Africa. She longed to return, but the Depression and Second World War intervened and she never got back. Dinesen may speak of the natives as "my people" but overall she writes of them with much affection and respect. I am especially taken with her descriptions of Kamante, who was virtually a dwarf and an oddity even in his own culture. There is a description of a letter he has written to her after she has left Africa. The scribe, who is not completely literate himself, writes for him: Write and tell us if you turn. We think you turn. Because why? We think that you shall never can forget us. Because why? We think that you remembered still all our face and our mother names Dinesen then comments: A white man who wanted to say a pretty thing to you would write. "I can never forget you." The African says: "We do not think of you, that you can ever forget us." I like that. Dinesen turns assumptions on their heads. Her description makes the African ties seem closer than those of the European. One question: Why do you think Dinesen chose the title "Kamante and Lulu" as the title of Part 1? Kamante is a man and Lulu is a gazelle. Is she drawing a comparison between them, as both parts of an untamed natural world? Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (77 of 82), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 10:54 AM Good question, Ann. I think you're onto something, and off the cuff I'd say that's it, but I'd like to revisit that part of the book and give it some thought. If they both represent the natural world, then what are the different aspects of that natural world that are assigned to each? Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (78 of 82), Read 37 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 11:05 AM I just finished the first section last night. Ann, I too was struck by the letter you quoted. Rereading it just now gave me goosebumps. Both Kamante and Lulu were a part of the natural world, but both had been abandoned in some way. They expanded their world to allow Dinesen to enter. Both have an effect on Dinesen and are affected by her. I think Dinesen is more changed than either Kamante or Lulu. Sherry
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (79 of 82), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 07:22 PM Barb, I had just passed that chapter concerning whether God believed in the existence of Professor Landgreen. I was going to write something of it, but you already had. I loved that. Also, just previous to that: As to us, we shall have to find someone badly transgressing against us, before we can in decency ask the Giraffes to forgive us our transgressions against them. Isak Denesen's comments about the quaint method of African expression aside, her own English phrasing is often very interesting, very different. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (80 of 82), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 12:46 AM Ruth, >> although I did like Babette's Feast. Any relationship to the movie that's on next year's 'watching' list? Barb, >I'm going very slow on this one too, Bo, but I'm guessing that it has more to do with my life than the book. Here too. A lot of things vying for my time and many of them are bookthings. It'll straighten out soon. My library discussion has one month where we tell each other the fun stuff we've been reading and it's been a popular activity. Also takes the pressure off of reading a book around the holidays which is tough for some people to do. >I actually think that it reads more like a book of essays on various topics and people in Kenya than anything else. That's a good observation. I actually do like essays and haven't felt like I've 'missed anything' by reading it in dribs and drabs. Will be interesting to see how it does or doesn't hang together in the end. I tend to have a problem if something tries to pass itself off as one thing (a novel) and is really something else (short stories). If this is meant as a memoir, no problem. If it's meant as a story, well, that's something else. :) Ann, >>Africa allowed her to blossom and really experience life. That's great. I'm glad she decided to share her experience with us. I've got to read further to contemplate your question. Steve, >her own English phrasing is often very interesting, very different. This is what I noticed most. Of all the authors I've been exposed to lately I'd say she has one of the more unique writing styles. (DeLillo would be the other one. ) Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (81 of 82), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 01:35 AM Bo, I'm generally not a movie person, (especially not American movies) so I often don't follow the Movies,etc. Conference. So I haven't seen the list, don't even know where to find it. (Someone tell me please?) However, if Babette's Feast is on it, you're in for a treat. That is a great movie. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (82 of 82), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 07:27 AM And yes, Babette's Feast is based on Dinesen's story. Sherry
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (83 of 88), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 05:03 PM Dick's observation that he found the book bland has given me a lot of thought here. This is not a book that I should enjoy either. I think the main reason I do is that this is a great mood book. It puts one in a certain mood as one reads it. I like that mood even though I cannot describe it. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (84 of 88), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 05:36 PM I agree, Steve. I love being transported to a different time and place so thoroughly. I love absorbing the mood of the book. Dinesen does this so well, that we hardly realize we've been sucked into it. And the sense of loss at the end, the sense that this time and place will never come again. We've all felt that at one time or another. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (85 of 88), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 07:33 PM Ruth, There are a few foreign films that look pretty good for next year's list. You might want to check them out. Babette's Feast is one of them. (Thanks, Sherry--I'll have to see if I can get hold of the story so I can compare them--I like doing that sort of thing, generally). Steve, >>I think the main reason I do is that this is a great mood book. It puts one in a certain mood as one reads it. I like that mood even though I cannot describe it. I'm liking it for some of the same reason. I've only read one other book in the last year that was as heavy in mood, though it wasn't as pleasant a one. Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (86 of 88), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 08:41 PM Bo, I have real trouble renting foreign films here. But where is the list? How do I get there? Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (87 of 88), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 10:45 PM Evidently the second hand pocket book I picked up was released in conjunction with the movie. The blurb on the back might hold some interest. "Isak Dinesen's extraordinary life and work are now presented in Sydney Pollack's OUT OF AFRICA starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. One of the great figures in twentieth century literature is Isak Dinesen (the pen name of Baroness Karen Blixen). At the age of twenty-seven, she left Denmark and sailed for East Aftica to marry her Swedish cousin, Baron Bror Blixen. Together they bought a four-thousand-acre coffee plantation in Kenya. For the next seventeen years she managed the plantation, even after she and her husband separated, and she recorded the experience in two memorable books, OUT OF AFRICA and SHADOWS ON THE GRASS, both of which are filled with her affection for and understanding of the land and its people. The movie OUT OF AFRICA, produced and directed by Sydney Pollack, written by Kurt Luedtke, and with Kim Jorgensen as Executive Producer, is also based on Judith Thurman's ISAK DINESEN: THE LIFE OF A STORYTELLER; Errol Trzebinski's SILENCE WILL SPEAK; and Isak Dinesen's LETTERS FROM AFRICA." EDD
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (88 of 88), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 10:55 PM Ruth, The movie list is on the Activities page, but here's a shortcut: http://constantreader.com/movies2001.htm Sherry
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (89 of 93), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Sunday, November 19, 2000 07:51 PM I never got back to the question of whether Dinesen's attitude toward the native people of Africa was patronizing or not. You all had a wonderful discussion regarding that question so I probably don't even need to comment. However, I've been wondering why I had the feeling initially that she was even though, given the time period, I wasn't offended by it. After some thought, I think that Dinesen frequently engages in a shorthand method of referring to groups of people by their traits. She does this with everyone, Norwegians, Danes, men, women, Somalis, etc. I tend to find that a bit offputting because I don't want anyone to categorize me. However, Dinesen does it with such humanity and it was so much more an acceptable practice then that I don't have much problem with it. However, I still find it an interesting question to ponder. The human mind seems to want to make these easy categories rather than considering each individual. Often, Dinesen was describing the results of a culture, but, even then, there is such a wide response within most groups that it couldn't have been that simple. Barb
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (90 of 93), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, November 19, 2000 10:01 PM Barb, Good observations. She does refer to the natives as "my people" which is a bit jarring. It is difficult making valid generalizations about groups of people, isn't it? She wanted us to have some general understanding of Africans, so I guess that is why she tried. However, the people she came in contact with were actually a small sample of all the individuals making up those groups. Perhaps they were not typical after all. Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (91 of 93), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Sunday, November 19, 2000 10:26 PM I finally read the Lulu chapter. I'm going to have to go back and reread everyone's notes. It's been a couple days now but my overall feeling was that it was a nice romantic story about coexisting with wildlife but it didn't 'work' for me for some reason. Maybe I just couldn't picture a 'deer' inside someone's house! And the male she hooked up with--all protective and everything. I don't know... Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (92 of 93), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Monday, November 20, 2000 03:40 AM ANN Wasn't she referring to people who worked for her as my people? I always referred to my group at work as my people. Except of course when they screwed up. EDD
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (93 of 93), Read 10 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, November 20, 2000 03:58 AM Her references to 'my people' varied I think -- perhaps beginning with those who worked for her but expanding to the entirety of their tribe with which she got involved -- providing medical care and other things which were not typical of all those who were settled in Africa and utilizing African workers. She was out of step with the governing people of the colony -- she was out of step with her own life background -- she definitely found the place to become herself when she spent those many years in Africa. In all of it -- I truthfully do not believe there was any intended condescension on her part toward the Africans -- whether in the group she tagged 'my [people' or any others with whom she had any dealing on any level. She was hard on anyone -- white or black who didn't live a -- what is the right word? ---- I can't find it and the thought will wait! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (94 of 100), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 20, 2000 10:27 PM I found the 'my people' weird from a stand point of class, not race. Her 'staff'. And how the attitude is that one owns them when they work for you...
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (95 of 100), Read 38 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, November 20, 2000 10:36 PM I don't think , when this was written, people were as in tune with what may be or may not be politically correct, as they are nowadays. I have to say, I loved this book from beginning to end. I consider Dinesen to have been kind and loving toward "her people". And I'll just bet they felt very lucky to be on her plantation. Beej
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (96 of 100), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@pacbell.net) Date: Monday, November 20, 2000 11:08 PM I had but little time this month and only finished the book the other day. First of all I am totally puzzled that I can't remember a thing about this book which I had read before, though I do remember Blixen's other books which I read. Prior to reading Out of Africa I read the Spectator Bird and in it Stegner is introduced and converses with Blixen. This was interesting to me as I also remember that I read at one time that Hitler went out of his way to visit her to make her a convert, yet failed. I was tremendously impressed by her skill in describing people and their interaction. What some people may consider a condescending attitude I saw pretty much as amazingly open minded. People of her time period were rude and crude viewing and describing the natives. There are a number of writers who "really" looked down on them. I saw her as a shrewd and sympathetic observer with a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity. There was something that really struck me as strange and beyond explanation. She describes none of the cruelty and murderous distention that we are reading about Africa right now. Things are pretty peaceful and there is this woman during WW I going on a long Safari with the natives without being afraid or being molested. Were things better during the Colonial Years or did she live in a part of Africa which is relatively peaceful. Yet there seemed to be negative feelings toward the Indian business people on the part of the natives. I have repeatedly read about the negative attitude towards the Indians during recent years. I have been unable to read all the previous notes on this board and will do so soon. But there are some things worth emphasizing. One of them is Blixen's ability to describe scenery, people, social interaction, feelings that borders on the lyrical. There is beauty in the way she writes. Secondly there is a deep sense of humanity and perhaps even humility in her writing. Her curiosity and openness is something one rarely finds in literature and this has a touching quality to it. She seems to love people and people responded to her. When she describes the attitude of the natives which differs from Europeans she assumes that it is universal in Africa, but Africans are a conglomerate of tribes and what may be true of one tribe, may not be true of another. Let me give you an analogy. Should a very naive African native start interviewing let's say Sicilians and generalize about Europe he would be pretty far off. Well once more, reading this book was a most enjoyable experience for me and hopefully for our other Constant Readers. Ernie
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (97 of 100), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2000 07:39 AM Ernie, I loved your comments. I STILL haven't finished it, but I'm on the home stretch. I'm almost at the end of the Notebook section, and nearing the Saying Goodbye to the Farm section. I don't know if I really want to read that, as it sounds like it's going to be sad. Maybe I'll just leave her on the farm forever. Sherry
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (98 of 100), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2000 08:58 PM Even though it's sad, Sherry, I think it's some of her best writing. I wouldn't miss it if I were you. Outstanding observations, Ernie. That curiosity in Dinesen is evident throughout everything I've read about her. However, as Stegner implied in The Spectator Bird, she wasn't always a "nice" person...in her later years anyway. Of course, I always wondered how much of that had to do with the long term effects of the venereal disease that her husband gave her. Barb
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (99 of 100), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2000 10:01 PM I was just kidding, Barb. I'll finish it. My reading time has been seriously reduced by the stress of getting ready to move, but I know I'll get to it soon. Sherry
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (100 of 100), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Friday, November 24, 2000 10:04 AM I think I sorta knew that, Sherry. God, I hate moving. And, we're planning another one as soon as our youngest graduates from high school (one and a half years)...back to the Ann Arbor area. But, I'm also sorely tempted sometimes to skip very, very sad or very violent sections of books. So, I was sorta serious too. Barb
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (101 of 116), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, November 25, 2000 08:25 AM I read the last chapter last night. Adding to the sense of loss was my own (much smaller) sense of loss. This is the last time I'll be at our cabin in Wisconsin for a long time. We've made the decision not to sell the cabin, because it means so much to us, but getting here will now be even more difficult than it was. I'll probably come for two or three weeks in the summer, but those quick weekend trips are out. Dinesen did an incredible job of just telling the story and letting the reader feel her pain, without once saying, "I feel pain." No wonder Ruth likes this book {G}. Her description of the landscape withdrawing from her, as if it knew she was leaving was very moving. And including Denys' death in that section was a deft touch. My copy of the book comes with Shadows in the Grass. Is that as good? Sherry
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (102 of 116), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Saturday, November 25, 2000 12:21 PM I don't think Shadows on the Grass has the same feel, Sherry. It is a much more intellectualized accounting. I skimmed it a bit and then went on to read something else. It kind of dimmed the pleasure for me. But, it might just be me. Wonderful description of Dinesen's account of those last days. My mother's family are all Danes and they are also all stoics. I had that same sense of a refusal to indulge in self-pity...just telling it. I could also relate to the bargain she set for herself, if she could just get through the days, it would somehow resolve itself. Barb
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (103 of 116), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 03:29 AM I wished I had skipped that ending with Denys. And I knew it was coming, but I didn't think it would get to me because I knew it was coming. After letting this book sit with me for a bit, I can see it ina little bit better light light than just a diary of a colonist. I think what is special about it, is her glimpse into a world that wasn't soley based on colonization, that was tied to the land. For a European farmer to see this much have been totally insightful, to see a culture that didn't base its self on the same values as hers. And I think everyone here has been right that this changed her. Even though she could never become one and stay in Africa, when she went back to Europe, she probably was seeing her culture with new eyes and we see this is her book. I mean, she is probably one of the few and first to write like this, and I kind of see this as a turning point for our culture looking at other cultures that don't base all their lives on money and farming, this book probably influenced a lot of conservationists and environmentalists and even anthropologists. I can see that now thinking back on it, even though it freaked me out the safari and killing of so many lions. Just thinking...
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (104 of 116), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 08:08 AM Um, part of the problems I had with this book have to do with feelings for the way we live. Some of this has been discussed in brief under the thread for Guns, Germs and Steel and under the thread Feminism. I have often thought that the way we live affects the way we think, not always the other way around. On a McCarthy forum someone recommended a book to me based on some of the discussions I participated in. I haven't read it yet. But they did post a fair bit of stuff from this book and I can't help but think it reflects a little where I come from in reading and living and why I found parts of Out Of Africa depressing and relevant to seeking change or new ideas of how we get food and how we farm and colonize. The book would probably interest DAN and Theresa here too...and Bo this seems to have a significant insight into 'place'.and sounds like it would compliment Guns Germs and Steel.it is called, The Other Side Of Eden:Hunters, Farmers and The Shaping of The World by Hugh Brody. Here is some, which I found relates to OOA "the skills of farmers are centred not on their relationship to the world but on their ability to change it. Technical and intellectual systems are developed to achieve and maintain this as completely as possible. Farmers carry with them systems of control as well as crucial seeds and livestock." "Men and women galloping on horses around the countryside in pursuit of foxes;men with shotguns who fire at pheasant, grouse or partridges driven towards them by beaters; those whose wealth allows them to travel the seas for game fish in their powerful boats-these people may claim to represent the hunter-gatherer within us all. Yet their habits and minds are fixed firm to the farming condition. Their hunting, shooting and fishing is evidence of the very characteristics that agricultural development has exaggerated, with the help of capitalistic and industrial developments, to an extreme.They are suppressors rather than exemplifies of the hunter-gatherer. They live by the systems of privilege and organization that are hallmarks of the agricultural mind. No: hunter-gatherers in the heartland of the exiles, living in the nation-states of farmers and in the cities farmers have built, are opponents of the dominant order. They oppose hierarchy and challenge the need to control both other people and the land itself. Consciously or not, they are radicals in their own lives. At the least, they experience the tension in themselves that comes from a longing not to plan and not to acquiesce in plans;at most, they use a mixture of knowledge and dreams to express their vision. It is artists, speculative scientists and those whose journeys in life depend on not quite knowing the destination who are close to hunter-gatherers, who rely upon a hunter-gatherer mind. The visionaries in society are always there, and perhaps a part of us all. The agriculturalists mind and its economic order never quite obscure evidence of the hunters. Many people feel the strain of a way of life and a mind-set that disallow all forms of improvisation and intuition. The controlling features of a life that has no place for the hunter-gatherer mind create a longing for a spirituality and underpin many forms of protest, from Quaker ideals of equality to the call for deschooling, from new-age mysticism to concern about rainforests. There is a common experience of something being wrong that may receive real illumination from a much more direct acknowledgement of rival forms of mind. Rival forms of mind are, of course, reducible to rival forms of society-and, in the end, to the displacement of one kind of economy by another."
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (105 of 116), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 10:44 AM Candy -- WHERE is this infamous FEMINISM thread which you have mentioned more times than I can now recall -- I missed that thread and would like to FIND it and read what you are referring to in these various notes -- TELL me please where this is hidden? Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (106 of 116), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 10:47 AM Candy, this is interesting but so wrapped in ideological language that I'm not sure I understand the point. He seems to exalt the hunter gather mind-set and denigrate farmers. Am I misinterpreting this? Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (107 of 116), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 11:01 AM Candy, you may not like a lot of what went on in OOA. I, too was horrified by the safari mentality. But just as one cannot be convicted under an ex post facto law, one cannot judge people outside of the context of the times in which they lived. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (108 of 116), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 11:58 AM Ruth, I understand, I thought I had sort of made my peace with the post previous to my last one. I think Out Of Africa is remarkable in that here was a person who had a certain mind set and culture who really did see another culture and way of thinking. In this way I can see how she must have overcame her back ground to really see and learn from the land and people. I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Rachel Carson or Nevil Shute or the founders of Sierra Club had been influenced by this book when they were young. I am totally cutting OOA some slack here.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (109 of 116), Read 34 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 12:03 PM Ann, I am sorry it is hard to read. I haven't tracked down a copy of this book yet, only that part which I put here. So I don't know if its a good book on the whole yet. But I was indeed attracted to the concept of "systems of control" and a mind set that may result from HOW we live. I think from the little bit I posted here, it would be safe to say that he is not disregarding agriculturalist mentality but is saying it is a restrictive force. That there exists other ways of thinking and feeling the world. Anyway, I'll be checking out this book, as I think its going to go well with GunS Germ and Steel. Dottie, I don't know what happened to that thread, it was months ago. I feel an urge to explain my 'tastes' in reading so I keep referring to it. Maybe you can do a search for it, but otherwise you didn't miss much.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (110 of 116), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 03:37 PM Nah -- I just wondered if my eyesight was REALLY all that bad, Candy! Thanks! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (111 of 116), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 05:47 PM Sorry for calling you to task, Candy. I could blame the trifocals, I guess, sometimes when it's hard for me to read a huge block of text on the screen, I plead guilty to skimming. Ruth
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (112 of 116), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 06:00 PM Thanks for the elaboration, Candy. I didn't realize you hadn't read the book yet. I'm not used to thinking about the advantages of a hunter gatherer mind-set, but then I'm not very good at thinking outside the box. I learned many years ago that civilization was not possible until people settled down in one place and started farming, but that could be very simplistic. Ann
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (113 of 116), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kent Rasmussen (arkent@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, November 27, 2000 04:01 AM I'm entering this discussion far too late to do more than toss off a quick Parthian shot, but I can't forebear commenting on a thread running the notes (which I merely skimmed) that relates to one of my pet peeves in discussions of Africa. It comes down to a single word: "natives." Gawd, I loathe that word. It is amusing, though, to read notes delicately asking if Dinesen might have had a "patronizing" or "condescending" attitude toward the "natives." The word "natives" itself is a telling manifestation of condescension. It is not a word we use when we refer to members of Western societies, such as Europeans. It is a word we apply to non-Western peoples, especially those who are members of societies with what we regard as technologically primitive cultures. We like to defend the use of the word by arguing that any inhabitants of their own homelands are "native" to their regions. In truth, however, we tend to restrict our use of the word to peoples whom we regard as living close to nature. (A fact that we kid ourselves into believing somehow makes them more virtuous.) Incidentally, in the context of Out of Africa, it is absolutely incorrect to refer to a person such as Farah as a "native." Farah was a Somali. As such, he was not native to the Kenya Highlands, where Dinesen had her farm. (And he certainly would have resented being regarded as a local.) >>Grouchy in So. Calif., who also cringes when he hears the word "tribe"--though that word is harder to avoid (in fact, old Grouch recently published a set of books with that word in its title)
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (114 of 116), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, November 27, 2000 05:30 AM Kent -- A couple of definitions here: country of nativity = country in which a particular person was born native = a person born in that place or a specific country anything else is just political spin and hogwash no matter what one wants to say And I've had plenty of "native" Californians point out that their family is "X" number of generation "native" Californian rather than counting their California-ness by the decades they've lived there. BUT what do the NATIVE Californians who were there when THOSE natives arrived think of that? Well -- after a few generations I think we have to give up those fights and that might be why there is no reference to NATIVE in Western culture now -- we are all too mixed up -- but there are still people who are Belgian(with subgroups who are Flemish or Wallonian and so on) and Irish and British and American (with subgroups who are Ohioans or Alabaman's- ? or whatever) and African(with subgroups who are Kenyan or whatever) -- anyone born in any of these spots is a native of that spot -- LIKE the word native or NOT -- this is still a fact. Dottie -- a NATIVE of Ohio and the USA as a result of her own ancestors being shuffled from Scotland into Ireland back in that 1609 thing by King James ???? whoever and a long chain of events since then -- life changes, history isn't always GOOD news -- but where a person is born there that person is NATIVE! ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (115 of 116), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, November 27, 2000 09:01 AM Kent, I understand the concept of loathing a particular word because of the manner in which it has been overused and abused. I loathe the word "relationship," for example. With regard to the word "native," Lynn and I took this up on November 6 in this topic. The issue was not the Constant Readers' use of the word. It has been used by us on very few if any occasions. The issue was Dinesen's use of the word and whether that indicated condescension on her part. My only point is that we have become uncomfortable with that word as a result of events that have occurred since Dinesen wrote, substituting for it such things as "indigenous people" for example. When she used it, it was still a perfectly respectable word, I think, and did not in and of itself indicate condescension. Steve
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (116 of 116), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, November 27, 2000 09:36 AM Thanks, Steve -- Sorry, I wasn't this articulate, Kent, -- but I have had trouble lately with this sidetracked "native" talk. Even "I" can imitate GROUCHY sometimes -- heh -- imitate, heck -- I can do GROUCHY real good without imitating anybody! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (111 of 121), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kent Rasmussen (arkent@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, November 27, 2000 06:20 PM But, how does one explain a usage such as the old South Africa term "foreign native"? With all due respect, Steve, I don't think that the term "native" (used as a noun in reference to Africans) was ever respectable. I believe that Europeans almost always used it to connote a lower order of human beings. >>Grouchy, a native of So. California--and, most definitely, a lower order of human being
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (112 of 121), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, November 27, 2000 06:53 PM Grouchy, I too am a lower form of human. This is so weird, um in Canada, we have sort of switched to calling Indians, Native Canadians. That is the politically correct way of saying it in some circles. Indians themselves often say they would rather be called Indian. Also, the names of groups of people when I was growing up were changed to represent a better pronunciation of their tribal names, years since. I have a book listing before and after in one of my Pacific Northwest Natural History books kicking around in my car. I have to agree that the term native ws always a 'foreign' word and supposed to denote some kind of 'primitive' animalistic society, it doesn't mean you are a abad person if you say it now but it does have a history of being a kind of 'other' or put down. I still say Indian, andI do know the proper pronunciation of names of groups and grew up playing on reservations, and grouchy I think you have one of those poetic hunter-gatherer minds!!!!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (113 of 121), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kent Rasmussen (arkent@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2000 12:37 AM It just so happens, Candy, that I just edited a little set of reference books on North American Indians, so I know all about the changing Canadian terminology. For example, "Eskimo" is now spelled "Inuit" to get closer to the proper pronunciation. >>Grouchy in So. Calif., who fondly remembers the small sensation that a distinguished South African anthropologist caused in a class at UCLA when she mentioned the shay-en people of the U.S. Plains.
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (114 of 121), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2000 03:23 AM Okay -- so we aren't happy changing the names to make them easier because that -- and I DO see that point -- is not right either but we don't like the word natives -- and I STILL say -- it started out being an innocuous term to indicate those who BELONGED in a place from those who had come into that place from elsewhere and I disagree that it has ALWAYS from the beginning been an intentional denotation of a primitive or animalistic people or a lower order of being-- I think SOME people used it as such and others didn't -- these broad indictments are what get us all into so much PC bs over the years. And in what way is it a "foreign" word -- it's ENGLISH isn't it? It would be foreign to those first African people encountered by English speakers and to the first of any people encountered by English speakers -- but then their language was also "foreign" to those English speakers -- I don't see how it is true it is "foreign" outside this context nor do I see the relevance of its "foreignness" here. Maybe I am hopelessly naive and dense but some things tend to get me going and this tendency to pick the language apart to the point where communication STOPS is one of them. Dottie -- suggesting one ask the South Africans who used the term to define it ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (115 of 121), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2000 01:06 PM Duh, I forgot to mention the other word for Indian or native or etc. Aboriginal. I think this is one of the coolest words. Dottie, don't worry about PC stuff. I don't think thats the issue here. And I will be the last to force PC thinking or speaking on anyone. I like to get clearer and believe it or not think before I speak, even if it doesn't look like it. Hey Grouchy cool job. Um didn't Eugene O Neil have a story that plays with the idea of native and all this perception that 'western' people perceived of them? I forgot which one it was ugh, rats if I could find my reading journal I could look this. After all that work of making the journal, now it's in the bottom of my car some where. Under my hair curlers. (don't tell George I curl my hair Dottie)
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (116 of 121), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2000 04:28 PM CANDY THE EMPEROR JONES? Not too far behind in stereotyping is THE HAIRY APE. EDD
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (117 of 121), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2000 04:34 PM Thank you Edd, yes yes thats it, and you're right both of them. !!!!!!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (118 of 121), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2000 07:47 PM I have in front of me a book of short stories. And in this book is a brief but informative biography of Isak Dinesen. So much is in this..First of all, I was unaware her father committed suicide. Also it does refer to Denys Finch-Hatton as Dinesen's lover, and she specifically wrote in English out of loyalty to her dead lover. Her brilliance as a writer prompted Ernest Hemingway in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize to say that it should have been given to "that beautiful writer Isak Dinesen." Eudora Welty said of Dinesen,"her tales are glimpses out of, rather than into, an extraordinary mind." ( Leave it to Welty, with her own extraordinary power of observation to realize this.) Within this book of short stories is a "fairy tale" written by Dinesen entitled "THE BLUE STONES" (actually the length of an essay) that tricks the reader into a feeling of emotional warmth only to be plunged into ice with the ending. Beej
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (119 of 121), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2000 04:06 AM That's okay -- Candy, I've calmed down now {G} and am not worrying about being PC. And your secret about those rollers is safe with me! Interesting ties to other reading here in these last few posts and that story collection Beej -- what was the title and which edition is it that has all that info and quote filled introduction/biography? Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (120 of 121), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2000 10:49 AM Beej, I've gotta set aside some time so I can finish this before the next book! >>Eudora Welty said of Dinesen,"her tales are glimpses out of, rather than into, an extraordinary mind." I'm going to have to keep this in mind as I read. I think this is some really good insight but I can't quite put my finger on why quite yet. Anyone? Bo
Topic: OUT OF AFRICA (121 of 121), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2000 07:02 PM Dottie, its called THE STORY AND ITS WRITER. by Ann Charters..its an old college book. Beej

 

 

 
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