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Encyclopedia > Out of Africa
Out of Africa

Modern Library's 1992 Commemorative Hardcover Edition
Author Isak Dinesen
Country United Kingdom, Denmark
Language English, Danish
Genre(s) Autobiographical novel
Publisher Putnam (UK); Gyldendal (Denmark)
Publication date 1937
Media type Print ()
Pages 416
ISBN ISBN 0-679-60021-3 (hardcover edition)

Out of Africa is a memoir by Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of Danish Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke), first published in 1937. The book describes events during 1914–1931 concerning European settlers and the local tribesmen in the bush country of Kenya (British East Africa), from seaside Mombasa to Nairobi, from Mount Kenya to Kilimanjaro, as told from the lyrical, poetic viewpoint of Dinesen. In 1985, the film Out of Africa was released, based loosely on the autobiographical book by Isak Dinesen published in 1937, as well as Dinesens Shadows on the Grass and other sources. ... Map of early human migrations according to mitochondrial population genetics In paleoanthropology, the recent single-origin hypothesis (RSOH, or Out-of-Africa model, or Replacement Hypothesis) is one of two accounts of the origin of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Wiki_out_of_africa_random_house. ... Blixen in Kenya, 1918 Isak Dinesen (April 17, 1885-September 7, 1962) was a pen name for the Danish author Karen Blixen. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a famous example of an autobiographical novel An autobiographical novel is a novel based on the life of the author. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Putnam is a surname. ... Gyldendal may refer to: Gyldendal (Denmark), a Danish publishing house Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, a Norwegian publishing house founded as a demerger from the Danish one Søren Gyldendal, the founder of the Danish publishing house Category: ... “ISBN” redirects here. ... Blixen in Kenya, 1918 Isak Dinesen (April 17, 1885-September 7, 1962) was a pen name for the Danish author Karen Blixen. ... A pseudonym (Greek: , pseudo + -onym: false name) is an artificial, fictitious name, also known as an alias, used by an individual as an alternative to a persons legal name. ... Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (April 17, 1885 – September 7, 1962), née Karen Dinesen, was a Danish author also known under her pen name Isak Dinesen. ... British East Africa was a British protectorate in East Africa, covering generally the area of present-day Kenya and lasting from 1890 to 1920, when it became the colony of Kenya. ... Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya, lying on the Indian Ocean. ... Nairobi (pronounced ) is the capital and largest city of Kenya. ... Mount Kenya has a low profile typical of a shield volcano. ... Kilimanjaro is a mountain in northeastern Tanzania. ...

Contents

Plot introduction

"I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills..."[1]

Thus begins the story of a farm that the narrator once owned near Nairobi, Kenya in the twilight years of European colonialism. Sitting at an altitude of six thousand feet, the farm grows coffee, although only part of its six thousand acres (24 km²) is used for agriculture. The remaining parts of the land are forest and space for the natives - most of whom are from the Kikuyu tribe. In exchange for living on the farm, they work on it a certain number of days per year. There are many other tribal Africans nearby, including the Masai and Somalis such as Farah, the chief servant who helps the narrator run the entire farm. The narrator herself is a Danish woman who never actually reveals her name while telling her story, although it is mentioned in subtle ways as "Baroness Blixen" and once as "Tania." Nairobi (pronounced ) is the capital and largest city of Kenya. ... It has been suggested that Benign colonialism be merged into this article or section. ... Masai can refer to Maasai, also known as Masai, the name of an African ethnic group from Kenya and Tanzania Masai, Johor, a suburb of Johor Bahru city This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles associated with the same title. ...


For the majority of Out of Africa, the narrator remembers various incidents that took place on the farm, although these events are not described in chronological order and sometimes tread into magical realism prevalent in storytelling. Magic Realism (or Magical Realism) is an illustrative or literary technique in which the laws of cause and effect seem not quite to apply in otherwise real world situations. ...


Plot Summary

The narrator has many visitors to her farm, including Europeans who live around Nairobi, natives who come for large native dances or Ngomas, an old Dane named Knudsen who lives out his days on the farm, and an Indian high priest. Two of her closest friends are Denys Finch-Hatton and Berkeley Cole, who has his own farm nearby and frequently helps to bolster the narrator by bringing in wine, food, and grammophone records. Finch-Hatton has no home in Africa except for the narrator's farm; he spends most of his days on safari. Finch-Hatton and the narrator frequently hunt together and share a special relationship. Although the narrator implies that the two are lovers, it is never specifically stated. Ngoma is a Swahili name for the African Drum. ... Denys George Finch Hatton (April 24, 1887 - May 14, 1931) was a big-game hunter, and presumably the lover of Karen Blixen (also known by her pen name as Isak Dinesen), who wrote about him in her autobiographical book Out of Africa first published in 1937. ... ...


As the narrator shares her memories of Africa, she draws a landscape that resembles a utopian ideal. On her own farm, she lives in unity with the natives and even some of the animals: one of these, a domesticated bushbuck antelope called Lulu, comes to live with them, which symbolizes the connection of the farm to its landscape. The narrator in general idealizes Africa as superior to Europe to an extent because it exists in a more pure form, without the modernizing influence of culture. As such, Africa is closer to what God initially intended, when he created man; it appears like a true Eden. See Utopia (disambiguation) for other meanings of this word Utopia, in its most common and general meaning, refers to a hypothetical perfect society. ... Binomial name Tragelaphus scriptus Pallas, 1766 The Bushbuck (Traelaphus scriptus) is an antelope that is found in forest and woodland throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. ... For other uses, see Garden of Eden (disambiguation). ...


After describing an initially idyllic life on the African farm, the tale becomes progressively tragic. The coffee crops aren't profitable because the coffee doesn't grow well in the cooler temperatures at the high altitude of the farm. After the plantation is destroyed by fire and the narrator has lost all her fortune, she decides to sell the contents of her home and makes plans returns to Denmark. Before she leaves Africa, she strives to convince the government to give the farm land back to the natives from which they took it so that they can all continue to live together and not be broken up and relocated. After much effort, the colonial government agrees that they can all relocate to a portion of the Kikuyu Reserve.


While she waits on Finch-Hatton to return to take her to the train station, she receives notice that he has been killed in a plane crash. The narrator buries him at a location on the Ngong Hills, overlooking the plains. She tells of a lion and lioness who later come to sit on his grave, eventually creating a terrace from which they view the game in the plain below, a fact that the narrator finds symbolically fitting given Denys's lion-hearted character. The Ngong Hills are located close to Nairobi in southern Kenya. ...


Major Characters in "Out of Africa"

  • The narrator - The narrator of the novel. Karen is a Danish woman, who generally cloaks her true identity throughout the book. On several minor occasions her name is revealed as Baroness Blixen. The narrator is portrayed as being friendly, kind, brave, adventurous and outgoing. Occasionally, some of her ideas suggest an inherent condescension towards the middle class, while maintaining that the natives and certain Europeans possess a certain innate aristocracy.
  • Farah - The servant closest to the narrator. Farah is the chief of all servants, managing the entire household. He is the narrator's closest confidant and she often appears quite dependent upon him.
  • Kamante - A servant on the farm who eventually becomes a cook. Kamante is a kind, friendly and slightly comic figure. He is younger than Farah, and perhaps because of his youthful age, the narrator frequently explains ideas to Kamante. Descriptions of Kamante's adventures serve a light, comedic purpose, while simultaneously providing information about the nature of growing up in the native community.
  • Denys Finch-Hatton [2]- Close friends with the narrator. Although it is never mentioned explicitly, the novel subtly suggests that they are lovers. Finch-Hatton is the embodiment of gentility and aristocracy: handsome, athletic, and a good sportsman. He is a lover of fine music, wine, literature, and art. His dignity and sheer nobility as a human that makes many natives deeply respect him, transcending cultural boundaries.
  • Berkeley Cole - Good friends with the narrator. Berkeley is an innately aristocratic man who helps the narrator to develop fine tastes. His aristocracy can be seen in his insistence of drinking champagne each morning in the forest. Like Finch-Hatton, Cole possesses a level of gentility that allows him to easily transcend cultural differences. He can speak Masai and gets along well with most natives. He is a gentle man with a good heart, although he frequently acts as a jokester, or a buffoon.
  • Old Knudsen - An Old Danish man who arrives on the farm sick and nearly blind. The narrator gives Knudsen a place to stay and frequently describes him as the true storyteller she longs to be. As a former seaman, he spins tales all day long, having been all around the world and seen disasters, plagues, and many cultures.
  • Pooran Singh - The blacksmith on the farm. Singh is an Indian from Kashmir who has not seen his family in many years, but who frequently sends money to them. Because of his trade as a blacksmith, the narrator pictures him as a mythic character, like one of the Gods who bends metal in beautiful ways.
  • Esa - The narrator's original cook. Esa is an older man, who is described as being very gentle. Esa often is taken advantage of by other people, perhaps because of his gentility.
  • Kinanjui - The Chief of the Kikuyus. Kinanjui is one of the most noble of the local natives. His profile itself appears aristocratic and he always holds himself upright. Although he does not have the luxuries that European aristocrats use, such as palaces, Kinanjui manages to make his dignity known by his stance and his behavior.

Major themes

The book proposes three major themes: Africa is a pastoral landscape in which men exist in a truer form than they do in Europe; the essential differences between the European and native contextual mindsets pose a recurrent, volatile issue; and an essential "aristocracy" exists in certain persons who possess an innate sense of dignity and knowledge of how to act nobly. Titians The Pastoral Concert Pastoral refers to the lifestyle of shepherds and pastoralists, moving livestock around larger areas of land according to seasons and availability of water and feed. ...

  • The narrator paints Africa as a land where everyone lives close to nature, placing people in a position much as they were at the beginning of time. As a result Africans are able to remember truths that Europeans have since forgotten. Dinesen's philosophy emerges from the "pastoral school" consistent with many nineteenth century writers and painters, who believed that man attains higher being when he has a strong connection to nature.
  • Africans and Europeans are portrayed as being fundamentally different - not because of race but because they have divergent historical perspectives and contexts. For example, Africans did not experience medieval history the way Europeans had; thus, they cannot share or understand the same viewpoints. Dinesen does not say whether or not the European or native mind is preferable but she sees future trouble due to these essential differences, especially when it comes to reconciling modernization with nature. Dinesen is not sure how the native Africans - whom she sees as existing in a more pure human state - will manage.
  • The code of dignity and respect that allows one to connect deeply with other human beings, regardless of their culture and race, is held in high esteem by the narrator. Dinesen's definition of nobility generally seems to exclude the middle class, many of whom are European settlers who are newly arrived in Africa. Whenever Dinesen observes less than honorable behavior by the settlers, they almost always belong to the bourgeoisie. Between the natives and the European aristocrats exists an essential connection that unifies them; middle classes troubles arise since they do not understand or observe the code of nobility.

The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times. ...

Trivia

  • The title derives from the writings of Roman historian Pliny the Elder: "Out of Africa always something new" (original Latin - Ex Africa semper aliquid novi).
  • Some editions of this book include a collection of short stories, "Shadows on the Grass."
  • This book is also mentioned in the book, "The Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger.

Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th Century portrait. ...

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

Sydney Pollack directed an award-winning film adaptation in 1985, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Sydney Pollack (born July 1, 1934 in Lafayette, Indiana) is an American actor, producer, and director. ... In 1985, the film Out of Africa was released, based loosely on the autobiographical book by Isak Dinesen published in 1937, as well as Dinesens Shadows on the Grass and other sources. ... // Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson Rambo: First Blood Part II, starring Sylvester Stallone Rocky IV, starring Sylvester Stallone The Color Purple, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn Chong, Adolph Caesar Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and... Mary Louise Streep, mostly known as Meryl Streep (born June 22, 1949) is an Academy Award-winning American actress who has worked in theatre, television, and film. ... Robert Redford (born Charles Robert Redford, Jr. ...


See also

A memoir, as a literary genre, forms a sub-class of autobiography. ...

Sources, references, external links, quotations


  Results from FactBites:
 
Out of Africa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1617 words)
Out of Africa is a memoir-based novel by Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of Danish Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke), first published in 1937.
For the majority of Out of Africa, the narrator remembers various incidents that took place on the farm, although these events are not described in chronological order and sometimes tread into magical realism prevalent in storytelling.
As the narrator shares her memories of Africa, she draws a landscape that resembles a utopian ideal.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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