'Out of Africa' - Karen Blixen

A Discerning Reader’s Guide

When the movie of Out of Africa screened in the 1980s I, like so many others, fell in love with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and the fabulous scenery of Africa. The film showed flocks of pink flamingos rising into the air, magnificent maned lions prowling across the grasslands, giraffe (“gentle amblers of the great plains”) loping along with easy elegance, and spectacular flights over the hills.

I find Out of Africa a beautiful book, written with such skill in English by a woman for whom English was not a first language, written with insight and sadness. It is an elegy for a way of life now gone, a statement of mourning for a landscape that entered her very soul and moved her deeply. Karen Blixen was never really ‘out’ of Africa again. This book is a testament to its power and her longings.

“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”
― Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

A book with insight and sadness

I had not read the book when I watched the film, so rushed out to get a copy. Soon I fell in love with Blixen’s lyrical prose. How can you not love an author who writes: The Natives “were quick to understand that meaning in poetry is of no consequence, and they did not question the thesis of the verse, but waited eagerly for the rhyme, and laughed at it when it came … As they had become used to the idea of poetry, they begged: ‘Speak again. Speak like rain.’ Why they should feel verse to be like rain I do not know. It must have been, however, an expression of applause, since in Africa rain is always longed for and welcomed.” How much of the character of the Kenyans, and also of herself, she captures in that passage!

I find Out of Africa a beautiful book, written with such skill in English by a woman for whom English was not a first language, written with insight and sadness. It is an elegy for a way of life now gone, a statement of mourning for a landscape that entered her very soul and moved her deeply. Karen Blixen was never really ‘out’ of Africa again. This book is a testament to its power and her longings.

Purchase the Reader’s Guide

At just $5 this Literary Reader’s Guide is a real treat! In this 24-page guide, Susannah reveals intriguing stories about the author to help understand what prompted the book to be written. She identifies the main characters and their roles, analyses the themes behind the story, and describes the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. Included are 8 thought-provoking discussion points, perfect for books clubs or just to get you thinking a bit harder yourself. Buy it now and receive a link to download your guide by return email.

100% guaranteed. If you don’t feel my guide is great value for money, please let me know why and I will refund your purchase price.

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Just $5. Buy it now – you’ll receive access details by return email.

COMING SOON. This video talk will be available from 1st December 2021. Please check back here then.

Discuss it with me

Is this book a memoir, a novel, a travel book, an historical account of a way of life that has vanished, or a mixture of all of these things? My reader’s guide will help you learn more about Karen Blixen’s life and her writing, the themes, styles and characters in the book.

Truman Capote declared this book to be “one of the most beautiful books of the 20thC”. Do you agree? Did you think the film version did the book justice? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I always love to hear what you think.

Just LOVED your talk on ‘Miss Jean Brodie’. Thank you so much for taking me to Edinburgh as well as into the life of Muriel Spark. I never knew the character of Jean was based on one of Muriel Spark’s own teachers.
Fabulous, spellbinding lecture, Susannah.
Jenny
I’ve just watched your video of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and it was delightful as always. I can’t overstate how much I’m enjoying this series, and how greatly you’re expanding my knowledge and interests (I’d read this book some time ago but the talk has added yet more books to my must-read list!).
Catherine
With your joie de vie and passion for literature, you will always be in your prime Susannah!
Alan

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