LITERATURE ABOUT THE AUTHORSHIP

Only a few books about Karen Blixen’s works were published during her lifetime and in the first few years after her death. But since the 1970s literary scholars have taken a serious interest in her oeuvre, and the number of works about Karen Blixen has grown steadily ever since.

The first non-Danish doctoral thesis appeared in 1989 (in France) and the first Danish one in 1999. About a dozen PhD theses and MA theses have been written, in both Denmark and abroad.

A complete list of works about Karen Blixen is found in Aage Jørgensens bibliography. The bibliography is uploaded and updated at our webpage. Read it online here.

In Liselotte Henriksens Blixikon from 1999 many informations are also to be found. Bo Hakon Jørgensen’s doctoral thesis Siden hen – om Karen Blixen, 1999, provides a thorough survey of research concerning Karen Blixen undertaken up to 1999 (pp. 177-298).


SELECTED WORKS OF RESEARCH ABOUT KAREN BLIXEN’S WRITINGS

Hans Brix: Karen Blixens Eventyr, 1949.
An analysis of the oeuvre up to and including The Angelic Avengers, 1944. Karen Blixen was not particularly pleased with the book, nor is it completely uncritical of her works, but it is rooted in a fundamental admiration. Professor Hans Brix’s book is especially interesting as it was written during Karen Blixen’s lifetime, before later extensive biographical research made its mark on the reading of her works.
Robert Langbaum: The Gayety of Vision. A Study in Isak Dinesen’s Art, 1964.
The first major, well-documented, non-Danish presentation of the principal themes in Karen Blixen’s writings. The American Professor Robert Langbaum compares Karen Blixen’s works with those of other leading, modern writers from around the world. Robert Langbaum had a number of conversations with Karen Blixen before he wrote his book. He has a special eye for the tragicomic aspect of her oeuvre and places it at a crossroads between the romantic and modernist traditions.

 

Aage Henriksen: Det guddommelige barn og andre essays om Karen Blixen, 1965.
Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen. The Work and the Life, 1988.
Professor Aage Henriksen’s essays about Karen Blixen and her tales are based on his close acquaintance with her and his own theosophical philosophy. This gives his reading of the works great insight, but it is also very personal.

Donald Hannah: Isak Dinesen & Karen Blixen. The Mask and the Reality, 1971.
British-born Donald Hannah was Professor at the University of Aarhus at the time he wrote this book. As indicated by the title, his concern is the mask theme in Karen Blixen’s writing and he compares the private, but more vulnerable Karen Blixen with the “Storyteller” mask she put on for her public persona.

 

Marianne Juhl/ Bo Hakon Jørgensen: Dianas Hævn. To spor i Karen Blixens forfatterskab.1981.
Diana’s Revenge – two lines in Isak Dinesen’s authorship, 1985.
The authors are the first to have examined the works from the angle that they were written by a woman, and thereby describe life as seen from a female-analytic perspective.
Bernhard Glienke: Fatal Präzedenz. Karen Blixens Mythologie, 1986.
Bernhard Glienke, Professor of Literature at the University of Kiel, provides an extensive survey of the many quotations and loans from other literature that are to be found in Karen Blixen’s tales.

 

Birgitte Blomquist Debusigne: The Literary Image in Print and Film.
The first doctoral thesis on Karen Blixen, University of Nice, France. Three main sections: The Literary Image; The Printed Image; The Filmed Image. Also, an illustrated account of the jacket covers of the Danish and English-language editions of Out of Africa, Winter’s Tales and Anecdotes of Destiny.
Annelies van Hees: De ambivalente Venus in het werk van Karen Blixen, 1990.
Dutch doctoral thesis. A psychoanalytic survey of the women who appear in Karen Blixen’s works, with special reference to the two principal categories, Diana and Venus. Psychoanalytic concepts of, for example, castration and guilt have a major role in the analysis.

 

Susan Hardy Aiken: Isak Dinesen and the Engendering of Narrative, 1990.
The American professor analyses Karen Blixen’s writings from a female perspective. She sees the oeuvre as signposting the entire area of women’s literature and does not conceal her enthusiasm for Karen Blixen as a writer who blazed the trail for women’s new status in relation to freedom, love and the opposite sex.
Hans Holmberg: Ingen skygge uden lys.
Om livets veje og kunstens i nogle fortællinger af Karen Blixen, 1995.
The title of the book is the Danish translation of the inscription on the plinth of the sundial in the garden at Rungstedlund: nunquam umbra sine luce (“No shadow without light”).
A collection of articles written since 1972 by the Swedish literary researcher Hans Holmberg. A meticulous examination of many of the tales with analyses of their psychological context. Holmberg is particularly concerned with Karen Blixen’s attitude to Christianity and the relationship between life and art.

 

Tone Selboe: Kunst og erfaring, 1996.
Norwegian doctoral thesis. Like a number of other young researchers, Tone Selboe (b. 1959) takes issue with the large body of Karen Blixen research that draws on biographical detail for an analysis of the works. She therefore concentrates on narrative style, genre, Karen Blixen’s use of the frame story, intertextuality etc.
Bo Hakon Jørgensen: Siden hen – om Karen Blixen, 1999.
The first Danish doctoral thesis on Karen Blixen’s writings. The first 100 pages give a scrupulous analysis of one of Karen Blixen’s central tales, “The Dreamers”. The thesis also examines the recurrent “later on/afterward” concept in the works – i.e. that something happens here and now, but is only understood later on, looking back. The second part of the thesis presents a thorough survey of Karen Blixen research from 1949 to 1999.