Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quotes out of Africa

The ideas of flights and pursuit are recurrent in dreams and are equally enrapturing. Excellent witty things are said by everybody. It is true that if remembered in the daytime they will fade and lose their sense, because they belong to a different plane, but as soon as the one who dreams lies down at night, the current is again closed and he remember their excellence. All the time the feeling of immense freedom is surrounding him and running through him like air and light, an unearthly bliss.

-p. 83, Out of Africa - Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)
Above, dreams. Below, the chapter "The Elite of Bournemouth".
I had as neighbour a settler who had been a doctor at home. Once, when the wife of one of my houseboys was about to die in childbirth, and I could not get into Nairobi, because the long rains had ruined the roads, I wrote to my neighbour and asked him to do me the great service of coming over and helping her. He very kindly came, in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm and torrents of tropical rain, and, at the last moment, by his skill, he saved the life of the woman and the child.

Afterwards he wrote me a letter to say that although he had for once, on my appeal, treated a Native, I must understand that he could not let that sort of thing occur again. I myself would fully realize the fact, he felt convinced, when he informed me that he had before now, practised to the elite of Bournemouth

-p.223, "Out of Africa"
The book is (to an extent) summarized by these two passages. The first goes to show the elegance and beauty to Blixen's writing and how she manages to vividly describe everything she mentions. The second displays the culture gaps, humanity and ordinary life she constantly seeks to explain. The book manages to juggle these two styles fairly well though had it been more tightly written (and perhaps better edited) it might have been an easier, better read. Still, passages like those above redeem the book to an extent. It is difficult to fault a book that pinpoints the essence of dreams in the best description I've ever read.


  1. That really is a powerful piece of writing.

  2. And yet another piece of classics that I have to put on my list.


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