Out of Africa Essay - Critical Context

Isak Dinesen

Critical Context

Out of Africa was Dinesen’s second published book. Having left Africa in a penniless state in 1931, she had gone on to publish a volume of stories entitled Seven Gothic Tales (1934), which launched her on a career as a writer. Her autobiographical narrative, when published three years later, was a smashing success both in her native Denmark and in the English-speaking world, and it helped her to obtain the material security that had eluded her as a coffee farmer. An indication of her popularity in the United States is the fact that five of her books, including Out of Africa, were chosen as Book-of-the-Month Club selections.

While yet alive, Dinesen carefully cultivated her place in the literary world by consciously stressing the exotic nature of her experiences and personality. Since her death in 1962, there has been an increasing interest in both her stories and her autobiographical narrative. A film version of Out of Africa in 1985 led to further growth of the interest in her life and works. Both younger and older readers continue to find her life and art fascinating.