Tania: A Biography and Memoir of Isak Dinesen

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9780070419094: Tania: A Biography and Memoir of Isak Dinesen

As I was browsing through the biography section of a used bookstore, an old wrinkled face with two wise, lively eyes captivated me. In them was something powerfully beautiful and touching - "full of juices of the golden autumn of life" - that, unlike the vacuity of a generic cover photograph, instantly engaged. I have recently finished Isak Dinesen's "Out of Africa" which I truly loved, so I couldn't resist the promise of that gaze. "Titania" introduces a whole new concept of a biography! It's not a gossipy, tell-it-all collection of juicy episodes carefully tailored to satisfy the reader's basic voyeuristic urge, but a loyal rendering of the gentle texture of Dinesen's life. The identity of Tanne's youthful crush is only revealed at the very end, there are no steamy bits about Denys (in fact, Parmenia Migel, Dinesen's friend, uses Tanne's very technique of powerful understatement). Her illness is but indirectly alluded to, and we only find out the nature of her father's mysterious death halfway into the book. "Titania" not only sheds light on Dinesen's private moments and thoughts, it preserves the spirit of the author and her environment and is populated with many characters who possess true aristocracy of the spirit. You will fall in love with Tania!

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Migel, Parmenia
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