Love is not visible to the eyes but to the soul - Shakespeare

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Karen Blixen 1885-1962

On September 7th, it was 50 years since one of Denmark's and perhaps the world's greatest writers died. Both known by her pen name, Isak Dinesen as well as her real name, Karen Blixen, she established herself as almost a living legend everywhere she went. The allure of Africa, the sombre feelings of Scandinavia, and her luxury of the old world made her a mythical creature in her own time.
In Denmark she still casts a long shadow in the litterary landscape and writers are both fearful and naïve when they try to compare themselves to her. Most don't dare, and those who do are looked at as 'slow'.
If one was to compare or try to decide who has been the greatest writer in Denmark of all time, people will find it hard to choose between Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen. Their writing styles are different but both bodies of work and both their lives can be seen as fairy tales - and by this I don't mean the Disney-fied world of fairy tales. But tales of both good and bad in excess. It is a common legend around Karen Blixen that she had made a pact with the Devil, and people who was around her a lot seems to have been almost absorbed by her presence. She was ruthless in many ways, perhaps due to early groundbreaking sorrows in her life, but nevertheless she spilled out the things she wanted to tell on paper for the rest of us to enjoy, fear, and learn from.
I am constantly surprised about how much new I gather when rerererererere-reading her works, and I have actually only read very little by her hand. Sorrow-Acre still stands as one of the most haunting short stories I have ever read. Not that it was scary, but that you keep thinking about it. The same goes for The Sailor-Boy's Tale.
To me, Karen Blixen and her work, embodies some of the underlying forces of Scandinavian thinking and culture, even though they can be quite dark and cold. Perhaps there is something about having such dark and long winters here which create a mark on our mind and souls. Who knows?
{An English site with a general overview of her life, works, inspirations (this is VERY interesting to read), and other things about her}

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