Isak Dinesen

Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen)

Isak Dinesen (April 17, 1885 – September 7, 1962) was the pen name of Danish author. Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, née Karen Christenze Dinesen. published in the United States, after being denied publication in both Denmark and England. She was admired for her poetic prose. Her popularity endures not only due to her writing, but also because of her  adventurous life. Born a Baroness, her family was one of aristocrats and bourgeois merchants. Many rumors were afloat about her until her novel, Out of Africa, was published in the U.S.

Out of  Africa (1937) continues to be her most famous work, a memoir of Dinesen’s life in Africa as the owner of a coffee plantation. It wasn’t until she returned to Denmark from Africa, in 1931, did she began to use the name Isak Dinesen for her writing.

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

Isak  Dinesen’s most enduring work, Out of Africa

Controversial — and possibly racist?

Dinesen’s writings were risky and controversial. Some considered her racist. She wanted readers to think differently and more openly. Yet some of her imaginative tales of offered a comfortable escape, for both herself and her readers. Her fiction and non-fiction almost seem like the work of two different writers, and critics are still divided over both.

An encounter with Carson McCullers and Marilyn Monroe

In February of 1959, Dinesen attended an extravagant lunch at Carson McCullers‘ home in Nyack, New York. The other guest was the one and only Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe, Isak Dinesen, and Carson McCullersa

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