THE POWER OF ARIES: Myth and Reality in Karen Blixen's Life by Anders Westenholz

THE POWER OF ARIES: Myth and Reality in Karen Blixen's Life

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A relative of Isak Dinesen does his best to explain her achievement. Westenholz is a novelist in his native Denmark, and his study perhaps belongs more in the realm of imaginative literature than in that of serious criticism. Westenholz was familiar with the petty flaws of Dinesen (at one point he admits freely, ""she was a snob through and through"") and devotes a chapter to this theme alone. However, the awareness of the woman's personal frailties does not lessen her in the author's mind. Instead, her shortcomings provide the springboard for an intense and ardent mythicizing of Dinesen. The book's title promotes a straight-faced assertion that Dinesen's zodiacal sign (Aries) helped her write her books and behave in a ramlike fashion during her long life. Moreover, Westenholz goes on to compare Dinesen, again with all seriousness, to the biblical Job, and Dinesen by no means comes out second in the encounter. About the only weakness the author acknowledges in his relative's work is that she could be a little ""cold."" In addition, there are some new letters by Baroness Blixen here that have apparently not been available elsewhere. For these, a dedicated Dinesen fan will want to look at Westenholz's effort. Otherwise, the volume seems too much hagiography and too little in the way of hard fact or memoir. It confuses myth and reality, despite the subtitle, far too frequently for reliability.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1987
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press