Introduced by Margaret Atwood
Illustrated by Kate Baylay
Captivating and darkly alluring, these brilliant short stories combine the supernatural themes of the gothic with shrewdly modern psychological insights. Introduced by Margaret Atwood.
‘One of the finest and most singular artists of our time’
Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) is best known for her autobiographical bestseller Out of Africa, but it was with these seven captivating stories that, as Margaret Atwood writes in her introduction, she first ‘took America by storm’. Each combines shrewd psychological insights with the elegant prose and supernatural themes of the 19th-century gothic tale. Their settings, ranging from Pisa to Elsinore, echo the darkly alluring realms evoked by writers such as Mary Shelley. In each, the line between reality and fantasy is eerily indistinct. In ‘The Monkey’, a Virgin Prioress’s attempts to unite her nephew with an unwilling bride become increasingly ruthless, until, at the story’s gripping conclusion, a bizarre metamorphosis is revealed. 'The Old Chevalier' tells a young man of a brief but haunting love affair with a girl who disappeared into the rainy streets of Paris as suddenly as she appeared to him. Her fate is unknown, but for a fantaisie macabre he has 15 years later …
Blixen was born in Denmark in 1885, moving to Kenya in 1914 to establish a coffee plantation with her husband, Baron Bror Blixen of Sweden. Her experiences there, including the breakdown of her marriage and her relationship with Denys Finch Hatton, a big-game hunter who died in a plane crash, inspired her famous memoir. She left Kenya in 1931, when the plantation failed. Written in the light of her changed fortunes and the First World War, these enigmatic tales express nostalgia for a time of innocence, while embracing the existence of tragedy and brutality. Kate Baylay’s superb illustrations reflect their ghoulish beauty.
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