28 August 2012

The Muse: Out of Africa

 Out of Africa is one of those sweeping epic stories that honestly just don't happen anymore. The book is very different from the film, though Sydney Pollack was the first to successfully attempt and tell Karen Blixen's (Isak Dinesen was her pen name)story with any accuracy. The film is actually a compilation of her memoirs as told in the vignettes of Out of Africa, Shadows on the Grass (modern versions are usually published together because the latter is so short, written shortly before she died in the 1960's) as well as several biographies of Karen Blixen and Denys Finch-Hatton (Robert Redford's character). The book itself is non-linear and divided into 5 sections, that at times seem unrelated. However from the first line "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong hills....." you are drawn into an equally beautiful and harsh world, that frankly can no longer even be possible. The first World War, which broke out only a few years after she arrived in British East Africa (now Kenya) marked the beginning of the end for British Empire building, for the next forty years one by one the British colonies and protectorates would start to gain independence and the Empire would fall. The elite world the notorious Happy Valley set, a hedonistic version of garden parties and balls at the European social clubs set in the incongruous world of the heart of Africa would soon give way. Out of Africa is a love letter, written to a place Blixen left, but never really got over leaving. You can feel her longing for the sun baked earth while writing during a cold Danish winter. The book was first published in English in 1937, then later translated to her native Danish. It is  supposed that the title refers to the classical saying, "Ex Africa semper aliquid novi", Out of Africa, always something new. Given the idea that all of our ancestors at one point took the journey, perhaps Blixen's experience is only a reinvention of what happened to humans hundreds of thousands of years ago. Looking at the various covers of the different published versions of Out of Africa over the years you can see a fascinating array of how artists and photographers have tried to capture that life, especially the colors of the heart of Africa.

  Dress: no label, thrifted via Goodwill
Tank (worn under dress): Forever 21 (very, very, old)
Necklace: The Fantastic Umbrella Factory
Headband: Poundland (UK version of Dollar Tree)
Shoes: Danielle via Marshall's (also very, very, old)
Purse: Lulu via Marshall's
Sunglasses: Dollar Tree

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