Twenty years after her death in 1962, the interest continues in Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym for the Danish Baroness Karen Blixen, who wrote almost all her major work in English). In this country all her books are in print; and there appeared last year the English translation of her Letters from Africa 1914-1931, which fills in the gaps in her idealized memoir, Out of Africa, (1937), that minor prose classic of our time. Now, in Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller, Judith Thurman gives us the second full-scale biography in English of this unusual writer.[1]

Thurman’s book is a model of what, a literary biography should be; for it is well-researched, but the facts are all absorbed into large patterns of understanding, into a brisk narrative, psychologically profound characterizations, and vivid...


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