Writer: Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
Publishing House: Penguin Modern Classics
Date of Publication: September 27th 2001 (first published 1942)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’You have drunk with Sunniva now,’’ she said. ‘’You have drunk down a little wisdom, so that in the future all your thoughts shall not fall like raindrops into the salt sea.’’
The Sailor – Boy’s Tale: A sailor-boy meets a strange falcon, kisses a girl and kills a man for love. A mystical tale of a boy reaching manhood.
The Young Man with the Carnation: A young writer in search of inspiration comes across a company of sailors whose tale of a woman’s search for the perfect Blue opens his eyes and understands that his wife is his Muse.
The Pearls: A pearl becomes a metaphor for the wonder, insecurity and fragility of marriage.
The Invincible Slave-Owners: The sorrows of young love through misunderstandings and secrecy.
The Heroine: A myseterious woman becomes the symbol of pride, resilience and dignity as the Franco-Prussian war unfolds…
The Dreaming Child: Life brings a lonely woman and an abandoned child together in a story that starts as a Dickensian tale that turns rather eerie until its powerful closure.
Alkmene: The arrival of a young girl in a parsonage turns the household upside down and seals the fate of a boy who desperately searches for affection.
The Fish: King Erik of Denmark muses on Religion and the unattainable, seeing himself as the old Wanderer without knowing that he is soon to meet his end at the hands of a jealous husband. A haunting story for a midsummer’s night that reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s tales.
Peter and Rosa: The wind and the North Sea become the scenery of a young couple’s star-crossed love.
‘’The low, undulating Danish landscape was silent and serene, mysteriously wide-awake, in the hour before sunrise. There was not a cloud in the pale sky, not a shadow along the dim, pearly fields, hills and woods. The mist was lifting from the valleys and hollows, the air was cool, the grass and the foliage dripping wet with morning dew. Unwatched by the eyes of man, and undisturbed bu his activity, the country breathed a timeless life, to which language was inadequate.’’
Sorrow-Acre: A lyrical ode to the nature, history and legends of Denmark, told through the bitter story of a woman and her son.
A Consolatory Tale: This story could have been narrated by Scheherazade to the ones who long to open the caskets of Life and Death…
Blixen’s characters search for love, for a place to belong, for the great unknown. The sea, the wind, the Northern land, the mysticism and lyricism echo through her hauntingly unique writing. Although much more earthly than her Seven Gothic Tales, this collection is a fable for daily life and the proof that the physical and the spiritual are one.
‘’I have now reconciled the heart of man with the conditions of the earth. I have persecuted, I have shown him how to get himself spat upon and scourged, I have taught him how to get himself hung upon a cross. I have given to man that solution of his riddle, that he begged of me, I have consigned to him his salvation.’’