Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Quote of the Day (Isak Dinesen, on Sorrow and Storytelling)

“I am not a novelist, really not even a writer; I am a storyteller. One of my friends said about me that I think all sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them, and perhaps this is not entirely untrue. To me, the explanation of life seems to be its melody, its pattern. And I feel in life such an infinite, truly inconceivable fantasy.” —Danish novelist Karen Blixen, a.k.a. Isak Dinesen (1885-1962), quoted by Bent Mohn in “Talk With Isak Dinesen,” The New York Times Book Review, Nov. 3, 1957

At least one of Dinesen’s works, Out of Africa, might be viewed in light of her explanation about making sense of sorrow. The memoir was born out of grief over her relationship with adulterous husband Baron Bror Blixen; the death of lover Denys Finch Hatton; and even the loss of the farm in Kenya she had come to cherish. (One of its most quoted lines, “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills,” is deceptively simple; the verb, while indicating ownership, is in past tense, already signaling dispossession.)

(The image accompanying this post is from the Oscar-winning movie adaptation of Out of Africa, with Meryl Streep as Dinesen and Klaus Maria Brandauer as Baron Blixen. Robert Redford, unpictured, played Finch Hatton.)

No comments: