Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Karen Blixen - Storyteller, Mystic, Witch, and Still Going Strong After Her Own Death



Believe it or not, this is a picture of my new best friend. Her name is Karen Blixen and she is considered the greatest Danish writer of the 20th century. When Ernest Hemingway won the Noble Prize, he said they should have given it to the wonderful writer, Isak Dinesen. Isak Dinesen's real name was Karen Blixen and Meryl Streep played her in Out of Africa.

Last year Karen began to appear in my dreams and meditations; then out of the blue, I was invited to talk about my own writing and hers at Charlottenlund Castle in Copenhagen. At first, I didn't really understand why I was chosen because I've only written two novels that are somewhat inspired by her, The Tsar's Dwarf and Skorpionens hale.

When I arrived at the castle, I was surprised to read in the program that "Karen Blixen would have loved The Tsar's Dwarf."  I don't know if that's true but the main protagonist in my novel, Sørine Bentsdatter is a wise witch, and so was Karen Blixen. A benign one, sure, but definitely not your average Danish Lutheran. "Real art must always involve some witchcraft," she once wrote and that seemed to go for her life as well.

At the event in Copenhagen, I talked about Karen Blixen, The Mystic - her relationship to religion, spirituality, and destiny. As a mystic myself, I share her world view and her deep respect for all gods and faiths. Perhaps that's why I feel she is with me when I read her. Blixen's worlds creep into me and refuse to leave me in a way I've only experienced with Rumi and Hermann Hesse. I simply sensed her presence when I re-read Out of Africa last fall.

Perhaps this isn't as strange as it sounds. The relationship between writer and reader is often a metaphysical one because even dead writers love to be read. Just like their prose, they live on and inspire who they can in this beautiful, magical, and enigmatic universe where nobody ever dies.

Recommended reading:
Out of Africa
Seven Gothic Tales (especially The Roads Round Pisa and The Monkey)
Winter Tales (especially Sorrow-Acre)