Autobiographical narratives are rarely entirely nonfictional, and Out of Africa is no exception to the rule. Dinesen thought of herself as a storyteller and had, in fact, a distinguished career as an author of tales. The voice of the storyteller comes through in Out of Africa as well. There is, however, no reason to doubt the factual basis for Dinesen’s narrative, for there is a complete correspondence between her own version of the events and the way in which her African life has been presented by her biographers. The artistic aspects of the book manifest themselves in the selection and organization of the material more than in fictional departures from the real events themselves.
Dinesen’s narrative stance is marked by modesty, a sense of fairness, and love for her friends among the natives and the settlers. Although her voice is present at all times, she is reluctant to draw attention to herself and only places herself at the center of the action when required by her narrative. She describes what she has seen, and her focus is on the land itself and its inhabitants. Her descriptions of the scenery and the animals are vivid; her portrait of the gazelle Lulu, a fawn that for a time became a pet on the farm and then for many years raised its babies in the farm’s vicinity, is particularly captivating.
Although there is evidence that Dinesen was unable to completely overcome the ethnocentrism common to the European settlers, her portraits of the natives are, without being romanticized, very sympathetic and testify of her great love for her employees. Her Somali servant, Farah Aden, is depicted as a great and noble soul; Kabero,...
(The entire section is 684 words.)