Shadows on the grass

by Isak Dinesen

Hardcover, 1960




New York, Random House [1961, c1960]


Isak Dinesen takes up the absorbing story of her life in Kenya begun in the unforgettable Out of Africa, which she published under the name of Karen Blixen. With warmth and humanity these four stories illuminate her love both for the African people, their dignity and traditions, and for the beauty and wildness of the landscape. The first three were written in the 1950s and the last, 'Echoes from the Hills', was written especially for this volume in the summer of 1960 when the author was in her seventies. In all they provide a moving final chapter to her African reminiscences.

User reviews

LibraryThing member karamazow
Not having read ''Out of Africa'', I started with this unbiased and even eager, only to become very disappointed after finishing it. I did not learn anything about Africa or its inhabitants, nor did this open any vistas or disclose the beauty of that continent. The personal musings surrounding some
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people of her household pretend to deliver insights about Somalian islam people and were elaborate but bleak. I did find, though, that the writer in fact is a silly old maid, bragging about her ability to cope with any situation, her healing powers and her encounters with famous people. This includes the King of Denmark (who hangs her gift of a lion's hide on a place of honour in his castle) and Albert Schweitzer. A complete waste of time, unfortunately.
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LibraryThing member RBeffa
probably the weakest of Isak Dinesen's books - written and published near the end of her life it is more a weak collection of essays and ruminations that she thought she should have discussed more in earlier books than anything else. Certainly not a place to start one's reading of Karen Blixen/Isak
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LibraryThing member Kristelh
an addition to her Out of Africa, really should be read along with that one. See review of Out of Africa.

Author wrote this one 30 years after she left Kenya. Its the last book she wrote. She died shortly after its publication. It fills in the facts of what happened to the people that Karen wrote
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about in her book Out of Africa. We get more information about Farah, the Somali-born servant who acted as her chief of staff. He is depicted as fiercely arrogant and utterly loyal, and his death is one of the most moving and tragic moments in the author's writing. Other characters who figure prominently include Kamante, who goes blind, old Juma, who dies, and Abdullahi, Farah’s son, who ultimately prospers.

In this book, the author is reflective and self disclosing, admitting that the African experiences made her writing possible. We also learn more about Masai and Kikuyu culture and the introduction of Western technology and culture, all of which made them listless and turned their old lives into boredom. There is less on the exotic landscape and animals and more on human values and spiritual appreciation. Perhaps she was saying goodbye to her friends in Africa. The author died of malnutrition. She was unable to eat. Some speculate that she died of anorexia nervosa.
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LibraryThing member DrFuriosa
Blixen (pseudonym Isak Dinesen) is a good writer, but she definitely carries a colonial lens over her time in Africa. This was not at all my favorite.
LibraryThing member kcshankd
Very much of its time, landed lady looks back fondly. This is begging for a novel treatment from the staff's perspective.


Nordisk Råds litteraturpris (Nominee — 1962)



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