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Posts Tagged ‘Karen Blixen’

Gothic Tale

January 27, 2016 | by

I don’t believe in evil, I believe only in horror. In nature there is no evil, only an abundance of horror: the plagues and the blights and the ants and the maggots. —Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

This is my second post about Karen Blixen this week, and you’d be forgiven, when you see that I’m about to share a Karen Blixen documentary, for thinking I’ve really fallen down a rabbit hole. You’d also be correct. I’ve long been an admirer of her work, and I find her personal history fascinating, but this film is something different entirely; I had to direct your attention to it. Read More »

The Gayety of Vision

January 25, 2016 | by

Karen Blixen in Copenhagen, 1957.

INTERVIEWER

What is your favorite fruit?

DINESEN

Strawberries.

INTERVIEWER

Do you like monkeys?

DINESEN

Yes, I love them in art: In pictures, in stories, in porcelain, but in life they somehow look so sad. They make me nervous. I like lions and gazelles.

—Isak Dinesen, the Art of Fiction No. 14, 1956

When Isak Dinesen gave her 1956 Art of Fiction interview, she was into her seventies. It’s one of the strangest entries in the Review’s Writers at Work series. While the focus is, naturally, on Dinesen’s work as an author, the artist, also known as Baroness Karen Christentze Blixen-Finecke, addresses her career as a painter, too: Read More »

Small, Good Things

September 13, 2012 | by

One of Mary Oliver’s poems begins “Something has happened / to the bread / and the wine.” A most unusual mystery, the comestibles have not gone the way of the plums in William Carlos William’s “This Is Just to Say.”

Oliver’s wine and bread, as she explains in the second stanza, “have been blessed.” These two central elements of the Christian faith have been lifted from their ordinariness, isolated in order to show the extraordinariness of even the most ordinary of things. The bread and the wine join water and words to become what believers call sacraments: Eucharist is a sacrament made from staple food and festive drink; baptism is a sacrament made of clean, clear water.

One way of understanding the sacraments, perhaps best articulated by liturgist Gordon Lathrop, is that simple things become central things. When Christians refer to the bath and the table, they refer not only to the specific sacraments of bathing and eating, but they point also to the sacramental character of every bath and every table. The setting apart of one table and one bath shows forth the splendor of all tables and all baths.

That setting apart is the calling of Christians but also the vocation of the writer. Read More »

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