Out of Isak Dinesen in Africa: The Untold Story

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Out of Isak Dinesen in Africa: The Untold Story [Import] [Paperback]

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From Publishers Weekly:

In December 1913, after marrying Bror Blixen, Baroness Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen) of Denmark boarded a steamship in Naples bound for East Africa, beginning one of the more intriguing adventures undertaken by a 20th-century woman. Donelson's well-researched biography of Blixen's years in Kenya is an absorbing read that will grab readers whether or not they are familiar with Out of Africa. Donelson's depiction of Blixen is decidedly less romantic than Blixen's own but no less intriguing for that. A medical doctor, Donelson argues that Blixen was cured of the syphilis her husband had given her in their first year of marriage, and that her illness was instead a result of years of taking arsenic as a cure. Unlike many Europeans, Blixen took an active interest in Africa's language, culture and people and reveled in its unique beauty. Donelson, who spent many years living in the Ngong Hills of Kenya, re-creates colonial Africa's physical, political and social milieu in remarkable detail. Intelligently and skillfully organized, the book offers a sympathetic yet candid portrait of Blixen and her complex relationships with her husband and with her lover, Denys Finch Hatton.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Donelson, a physician who has lived in the Ngong Hills in Africa where Dinesen farmed from 1913 to 1930, closely chronicles the now-legendary African years of Karen Dinesen, Baroness Blixen, with a new slant. Using Dinesen's written descriptions of her symptoms and the work of other physicians who have written on her lifelong illness, Donelson concludes that the illness that crippled and ultimately killed her was not syphilis but arsenic poisoning, caused by tonics she frequently took. Medically, the theory is ingenious and possibly valid, but aside from the introduction and an appendix on Dinesen's medical history, Donelson makes little use of this insight. Instead, she relies heavily on Dinesen's published stories for insight into the author's feelings. Donelson focuses exclusively on her subject's African years, though Dinesen lived for another 32 years after returning to Europe. For a complete life of Dinesen, readers should still turn to Judith Thruman's Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller (LJ 10/15/82).
Shelley Cox, Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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