11 May 2015

Seven Gothic Tales, by Isak Dinesen

In trying to think of appropriate labels for this entry, I think I've just about summarized what I want to say. Isak Dinesen is a pseudonym for Karen Blixen, and is the author of the more-or-less-famous (at least the movie is) Out of Africa.

These seven stories were are very unusual (odd, quirky, weird, and strange also occur to me as adjectives) but all in all very good. I started reading this on a camping trip and thought after a few paragraphs that I'd put it down, but I didn't.

I'm not going to rehash all seven tales, or even one of them. I will say that the technique of story-within-story is well represented here. I may never have seen it done more, or better.

These stories tend to be set in the early 19th century, and have many references to the French revolution, the Napoleonic wars, a war between Denmark and England of which I was not aware (my command of history is, at best, dismal), and not a little to do with the supernatural--though I would not describe them as tales of the occult, even to the extent that Edgar Allan Poe's might be.

All in all, I'd highly recommend Seven Tales to those who crave a damned good read.

A New York Times review by John Updike.

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