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This report is taken from PN Review 117, Volume 24 Number 1, September - October 1997.

Karen Blixen - Out of Denmark Anne Born

Babette, the French chef in 'Babette's Feast', comes as a refugee from the Revolution to cook for the two poor orphaned daughters of the pastor in a remote Norwegian parish. After herself creating a revolution in their daily diet, she spends her lottery winnings on one magnificent banquet, because she is a great artist who has put her heart and soul into haute cuisine. The hosts at a conference on Karen Blixen - out of Denmark held in April were clearly and brilliantly inspired by Denmark's greatest twentieth-century writer. Karen Blixen felt the presentation of delicious food exquisitely set out to be essential for civilised life. She had her china, napery and crystal shipped out to Kenya for her dinner parties at the famous farm, and after her reluctant return to Denmark, Rungstedlund, the family home on the Sealand coast north of Copenhagen, was the setting for gatherings of Danish writers and artists.

Thirty Danish-speaking scholars and translators of Karen Blixen, or Isak Dinesen as she is known in America, had been invited from nineteen countries, including Japan, China, Russia, Poland, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Hungary, Germany, USA, Holland, Italy, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, England, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Bringing these far-flung specialists together for five days was an achievement. It was an ideal group size, allowing plenty of time for the exchange of ideas. Present also was Karen Blixen's friend and protégé the Danish poet Thorkild Bjørnvig, who wrote a book, The Pact, ...


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