Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Isak Dinesen's Africa

Because I am stuck on Isak Dinesen and Martha Gellhorn this summer, I am going to post some photographs from a book called Isak Dinesen's Africa that I found in the library yesterday. I was prompted by litlove's post of a couple of days ago where she wrote of Dinesen's short story, "The Blank Page." I read Out of Africa a couple of months ago and was struck by Dinesen's description of the Kikuru and Masai people as well as the natural beauty of Africa.

This was Dinesen's farm house in the Ngong Hills. Of it she writes: "To the great wanderers amongst my friends, the farm owed its charm, I believe, to the fact that it was stationary and remained the same whenever they came to it."

A Masai warrior (leaning a bit, my fault, not the warriors). "Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic;--daring, and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal."

This is a photograph of young Kikurus getting ready for a dance. Dinesen writes of these young dancers: "The real performers, the indefatigable young dancers, brought the glory and luxury of the festivity with them, they were immune to foreign influence, and concentrated upon the sweetness and fire within themselves."

An Elephant: "Here upon the roof of Africa, wandered the heavy, wise, majestic bearer of the ivory. He was deep in his own thoughts and wanted to be left to himself. But he was followed, and shot with poisoned arrows by the little dark Wanderobos, and with long, muzzle-loaded, silver-inlaid guns by the Arabs; he was trapped and thrown into pits all for the sake of his long smooth lightbrown tusks, that they sat and waited for at Zanzibar."

Mount Kilimanjaro, where the famous snows are melting at an irrevocable rate.

"I had time after time watched the progression across the plain of the Giraffe, in their queer, inimitable, vegetative gracefulness, as if it were not a herd of animals but a family of rare, long stemmed, speckled gigantic flowers slowly advancing."

All of these excerpts are taken from Isak Dinesen's Africa: Images of the Wild Continent from the Writer's Life and Words, Introduction by Judith Thurman, Photographs by Yanns Arthus-Bertrnad, Peter Beard, Frank Connor, David C, Fritts, Douglas Kirkland, Galen Rowell and Gunter Ziesler. Published by Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.


litlove said...

Oh fantastic! This is exactly what I wanted, and you even have giraffes! Thank you, Ian!

Charlotte said...

Beautiful photographs. Very homesick-making, especially the giraffes and the ellies.

Emily Barton said...

Hmmm...methinks someone is Africa-bound sometime soon?

imichie said...

litlove and charlotte, I thought you might like that. I miss Africa too although I only had 18 months there. I did get to see both elephants and giraffes in the wild in Zimbabwe, an amazing experience.

Emily, yup, Ima goin' as soon as i git gradutated from this here college.

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