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Karen Blixen

Under the pseudonym of Isak Dinesen, Karen Blixen, 1885-1962, wrote a number of collections of surprising, often complicated stories in the genre for which Karen Blixen herself invented the name "Gothic tales" in her American first edition. Her first book, Seven Gothic Tales was published in New York in 1934 in her own English version and was a great success, being published the same year in England and Sweden.

Karen Blixen

On the basis of this position, Karen Blixen conquered the Danish literary world (Syv fantastiske Fortællinger, 1935), achieving a great success which she could scarcely have expected with her consciously un-modern stories in a literature that was predominantly the realm of social realism and psychoanalytical fiction.

The background to Karen Blixen launching herself on the international stage was a lengthy period spent in Kenya (1913-31) as a coffee farmer. She had married a Swedish relative, Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke, and went off with him to try her fortune in the then British East Africa on a farm near the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi.

The failure of the marriage, the failure of the farm and the death of her lover, the aristocratic game hunter Denys Finch Hatton, drove Karen Blixen back to Denmark, where she settled in Rungstedlund and started writing as an element in her struggle to establish her existential and financial position. In 1937 came the poetical memoirs Den afrikanske Farm (Out of Africa) and in 1942 Vinter-Eventyr (Winter's Tales), in which her narrative art culminates, simpler and more concentrated than in the first collection, but still sublimely fascinating and disturbing.

Aristocratic milieux and norms and an aesthetic, Nietzschean anti- humanism play a consciously provocative role on the surface of Karen Blixen's stories, which, however, in the questions they pose about fate, meaning, identity are textually modern and profoundly universal in their humanity.


Johan de Mylius, Gyldendal Leksikon

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