The Aristocratic Universe of Karen Blixen

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Karen Blixen’s works are explored in the light of a passionate insistence on living out a double nature of the divine and the demonic. The “aristocratic” is examined as her depiction of a conduct of life that is faithful to destiny: the aristocratic viewpoint is in tune with eternity, and places no obstructive morality between self and life. Vitality has its source in direct access to the ocean of inexhaustible opportunities with which life presents us. The “world” of Africa, for example, plays a key role as the consummate illustration of an aristocratic culture. The aesthetic guidelines for literary form (as well as art) as advocated by KB are discussed, and her view of art is similarly defined and explained as“aristocratic”. Her private correspondence (including the recently published Karen Blixen in Denmark: Letters, 1931–62) is drawn upon to shed new light on her life and work.


From a review of the Danish edition: “Original and essential… exquisite and noble, Babette and the Aristocratic Universe is simply one of the best all-round presentations of Karen Blixen’s work.”  —Professor Søren Schou, Weekendavisen

“A philosophical center gives weight to the author’s investigations. An international world of reference is also amply demonstrated in connections to the Bible, the Koran, Tristram Shandy, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Wuthering Heights, Crime and Punishment, Heart of Darkness, and Joyce’s story “The Dead”… The discussions of “Babette’s Feast” are especially informative… Highly recommended.”  —Choice

“This book offers both fresh and original viewpoints, and provides new aspects for further reflection.”  —Annelies van Hees, University of Amsterdam, author of The Ambivalent Venus: Women in Isak Dinesen’s Tales, TijdSchrift voor Skandinavistiek  

“Extremely interesting . . . excellent . . . A ‘must read’ for anyone planning a foray into Blixen scholarship.”  —Professor Susan Brantly, Scandinavian Studies