“If Victor Hugo had known Babette — the Babette of the Feast — if he’d sat at her table during the siege of Paris, if he had known of her fate while he commenced his long campaign to have the Communards pardoned, with what poem might he not have enriched L’Année terrible?” – Gérard Audinet, director of the Victor Hugo Museum
The Karen Blixen Museum and the Victor Hugo Museum jointly present two exhibitions in 2018. The Parisian home of Victor Hugo opens its doors on the 16th of January to a visit, a homecoming, the exiled Babette returns to Paris.
Karen, Victor, Wilhelm et Babette
16th of January – 29th of April 2018
Maison de Victor Hugo
6 place des Vosges
Explore the exhition here
Literary and historic destinies
The Babette of Karen Blixen was Communard. The father of Karen Blixen, Wilhelm Dinesen, was in Paris in 1871 during the Paris Commune, and published his testimony in the book Paris under the Commune. In his precise and sober manner he describes the rising of the Communards and the massacre that ensued.
“They let the people of Paris starve; they oppressed and wronged the poor. Thanks be to God, I stood upon a barricade; I loaded the gun for my menfolk!” – Karen Blixen, “Babette’s Feast”
”Babette becomes a refugee from France who, thanks to her cooking skills, becomes integrated into a little village society far to the North.
It is as if she comes from another planet, like the strange bird, the peregrine
falcon, who settles down and tells a story. The meal incarnates Babette,
and Babette incarnates the art,” recounts the director of the Karen Blixen Museum, Catherine Lefebvre.
For a long time the French-Danish director has wished to connect the many threads that spin themselves in-between Karen, Victor, Wilhelm and Babette. Now Babette returns for a while to the Paris, she had to flee from, to the one, who offered asylum and fought for her amnesty, Victor Hugo. In April the Paris of 1871 will pay a visit to Rungstedlund, the home of Karen Blixen, so the story of the communards, the horror witnessed by Wilhelm Dinesen and the poetry of Victor Hugo can resonate within the story of ”Babette’s Feast. ”
Photo of Babette in Paris: photographer Peter Gabriel