Isak Dinesen: The Life and Imagination of a Seducer

Isak Dinesen: The Life and Imagination of a Seducer

Isak Dinesen: The Life and Imagination of a Seducer

Isak Dinesen: The Life and Imagination of a Seducer

Excerpt

1914: "Wie kommen nie wieder so jung -- so undisciplined and rapacious -- zusammen."

When Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke arrived in Nairobi in 1913 to prepare for his marriage to his curly headed, elegant fiancée Tanne Dinesen (with her marvelous dark eyes to match the soft curls), the town looked to him "like an empty old anchovy tin." It was, said Tanne, later, "A motley place, with some fine new stone buildings, and whole quarters of old corrugated iron shops, offices and bungalows, laid out with long rows of eucalyptus trees along the bare dusty streets." Barefooted boys reeking with sweat pulled rickshaws carrying Europeans whose talk drifted through the air as they wheeled by, lifting up the fine red dust behind them into a thin cover over the African tribesmen walking along the roads. After the long rains, the roads became muddy and impassable, and disease festered in the nearby bogs and swamps. There was an uncanny desolation to the young town, which had grown up to accommodate the railroad. Elspeth Huxley wrote that the "tin sheds which appeared . . . as vultures materialise out of clear sky when life leaves a body, had clustered over the site of Kenya's future capital." The railroad had come into being at one end of the town, the Norfolk Hotel, the other.

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