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Main page » Non-Fiction » Out of Africa

Out of Africa


Out of Africa is a memoir by Isak Dinesen, a nom de plume used by the Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke. The book, first published in 1937, recounts events of the seventeen years when Blixen made her home in Kenya, then British East Africa. The book is a lyrical meditation on Blixen’s life on her coffee plantation, as well as a tribute to some of the people who touched her life there. It is also a vivid snapshot of African colonial life in the last decades of the British Empire. Blixen wrote the book in English and then translated it into Danish.

Out of Africa is divided into five sections, most of which are non-linear and seem to reflect no particular chronology. The first two focus primarily on Africans who lived or had business on the farm, and include close observations of native ideas about justice and punishment in the wake of a gruesome accidental shooting. The third section, called “Visitors to the Farm,” describes some of the more colorful local characters who considered Blixen’s farm to be a safe haven. The fourth, “From an Immigrant’s Notebook,” is a collection of short sub-chapters in which Blixen reflects on the life of a white African colonist.

In the fifth and final section, “Farewell to the Farm,” the book begins to take on a more linear shape, as Blixen details the farm’s financial failure, and the untimely deaths of several of her closest friends in Kenya. The book ends with the farm sold, and with Blixen on the Uganda Railway, heading toward the steamer on the coast, looking back and watching her beloved Ngong hills diminish behind her.

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Tags: Africa, Blixen, Danish, British, touched