Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Isak Dinesen wrote Out of Africa

Isak Dinesen
It is the birthday of Danish writer Isak Dinesen (1885), who wrote the novel Out of Africa (1937), a short story Babette's Feast and Seven Gothic Tales (1934), a collection of short stories. Her real name was Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (and her maiden name was Karen Christenze Dinesen). Out of Africa was based on her experiences in Kenya, where she and her husband started a coffee plantation in 1914. Her husband was unfaithful and the couple divorced in 1925. She remained at the plantation, where she developed a long-term love affair with an English big game hunter who lived with her when he wasn't leading safaris. He died when his biplane crashed in 1931. Dinesen's plantation failed and she moved back to Denmark, where she devoted herself to writing. Her first book, Seven Gothic Tales (1934) was well received in the United States, Britain and Denmark. Out of Africa was adapted as a 1985 movie starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Babette's Feast became a 1987 Danish film. Both won Academy Awards.
Another short story, The Immortal Story, was adapted as a 1968 French film directed by Orson Welles and starring Jeanne Moreau. Dinesen toured the United States in 1959, where she met Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, E.E. Cummings, Pearl Buck, Truman Capote, Babe Paley, Gloria Vanderbilt, and photographer Richard Avedon, who took her portrait.

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