Tuesday, July 1, 2008


A few addenda to my post on Isak Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales. I forgot to mention that, although most of the prose is dense and allusive (i.e. good, but not flashy), it does include at least one stop-you-in-your-tracks brilliant quote. It comes from the story The Deluge at Norderney:
"And now abideth liberty, equality, fraternity, these three, but the greatest of these is fraternity."
Of course, my love of this is enhanced by the fact that I'm a total francophile who finds herself stirred by the words liberté, égalité, fraternité...and that I had to memorize 1 Corinthians 13 ("And now abideth faith, hope, charity") in high school. Still. Great quote. I love writers who can put an unexpected twist on old clichés--and it does seem to me that "fraternity" is the greatest of the three qualities, because if you feel fraternity with all human beings you will surely grant them their fundamental rights to liberty and equality.

Also, having just finished Seven Gothic Tales, I decided I should watch Out of Africa. Very interesting to compare the impressions of Dinesen/Blixen given by these two works of art. The author of Seven Gothic Tales is refined, aesthetic, a Baroness from a vanished era. The movie character is intrepid, hard-working, steadily becoming more independent and modern. Though there's some overlap between the two. Dinesen's heroines are often intrepid, and the movie portrays Karen as a lover of art.

I seem to be one of the few people who don't find Out of Africa boring or overrated. Meryl Streep is terrific as always, and though Robert Redford isn't up to her level, he didn't ruin the movie for me. If it had been only about their love story, he would have gotten on my nerves, but because the movie is about Karen's love for Kenya and its people as well as for Denys, it's not so bad. And it must be one of the most visually intoxicating movies I've seen in a long time--now I've got cravings for a new summer wardrobe of safari linen and khaki, and a home filled with dark wood furniture and leather-bound books. (This is probably the wrong response though, since the movie promotes a kind of African Zen, learning to be less materialistic and possessive.)

Image of Meryl Streep from dvdreview.com

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