This paper focuses on Karen Blixen’s understudied essays and radio talks (first published as a collection in 1965) and offers a preview of the presenter’s forthcoming monograph on the topic. The paper will present a sampling of close readings of selected essays, readings which challenge well-established critical assumptions about Karen Blixen’s literary oeuvre.
The paper explores the essay and radio address, as genres which Blixen employed to engage in public discourses on controversial issues, particularly during postwar period. The analysis situates the writer in the context of mid-century and postwar Denmark and illustrates by means of three provocative essays, dealing with Colonialism (“Sorte og Hvide i Afrika” 1978), Nazism (“Breve fra et Land i Krig,” 1948), and the Women’s movement (“En Baaltale med 14 Aars Forsinkelse,” 1953) how Blixen made use of the essay and/or radio address in order to engage in a polemical discourse regarding some of the dogmatic ideologies of the period. The paper relies on and contextualizes the presenter’s two forthcoming articles in Scandinavian Studies (82: issue 1 and 2), which will be published in Spring 2010, simultaneous with the SASS annual meeting.
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