Monday, April 14, 2014

Out of Africa by Baroness Karen von Blixen (1938)

After seeing the movie again I decided to put to use my 1st ed. copy of OoA. The 1st 1/2 is much like a documentary and reminds one little of the movie, however the middle quickens, and the end is thick and very moving. Mostly it is a series of short descriptions of events, often jumping forward and backward in time, the movie fills in a few things that she surely was too embarrassed to write in the book. I highly recommend it because the viewpoint is so unique.

The Baroness is extremely insightful at times; she sees the big picture in the small things everywhere she looks. She witnessed and was a part of the the last years in which the Colonial powers "took and held" anything they wanted. The last places on earth that were unchanged from thousands of years ago were tele-ported into the future, and not in a good way.

The matter of fact way in which she speaks of hunting, killing, death, and dying is unusual to many of us who are so insulated from farm life. The Baroness muses on the Normans as having "not a single Southern trait" thus there continued fascination with all things south.

The world was moving from the Napoleonic war style to the mechanized style during the whole time that The Baroness was in Africa; imagine, the automobile and the aeroplane going from unheard of to commonplace in just a decade.

All throughout, The Baroness compares the Native mind to the European mind. She describes the Masai as being both aristocratic and proletariat at the same time and so when the bourgeoisie from Europe descended upon them they had many miss understandings.

On a singular note she describes Old Knudsen as a "singularly good hater" don't we all know some of those folks.

She discusses how Berkeley and Denys are from a different era imagine that, I always thought I was from a  different era, and here they are in the era I would have loved the most!

"When the design of my life is completed, shall I, shall other people see a stork?"

"Pride is faith in the idea that God had when he made us."

Pooran Singh
Blixen's description of the Craftsman Pooran Singh rings true to me; he can make or fix just about anything. I understand the the Indian man she describes completely; I would have been him in another life.

Her long preparations for leaving Africa caused much reflection. I was reading while I was in preparations for leaving Chrysler after 28 years. She said that she did not leave Africa as much as Africa left her. All I know is that during the last two weeks I watched as Chrysler receded from me; discussions and subjects that had been my total interest in the past had a time frame beyond my last day and so did I could not be interested even if I wanted to.