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Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard by Isak…

Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard (1958)

by Isak Dinesen

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What do you find in Dinesen's fiction? The ordinary crammed with miracles and the world of legend exporting nourishment and hope to our lands of the Mundane. The spark of eternity, the soul's language, is ever-present in Dinesen. -Adam
  stephencrowe | Nov 11, 2015 |
"Ah! How you will enchant the angels!"
This quotation, from Babette's Feast, refers to the expectation of Phillipa, for whom Babette had been cook for many years, that Babette would truly be among the angels due to her transformative impact on Phillipa and her sister and the others from the small village of Berlevaag who attended the feast she had prepared. But to understand these transformations one must return to the beginning of Dinesen's story where the first paragraph introduces this town that in its fairy-tale like existence resembles nothing more than "a child's toy-town of little wooden pieces". With the introduction of two elderly sisters, Martine and Phillipa, and the presentation of their stories as background to the advent of Babette, an escapee from the violence of the Communes in Paris, we have the makings of a story of love gained and lost, memories, and a gradual realization that the passions of the inhabitants of this small town would be permanently changed by the presence of Babette. In section V. titled "Still Life" Babette arrives and,
"Her mistresses at first had trembled a little . . . They silently agreed that the example of a good Lutheran life would be the best means of converting their servant. In this way Babette's presence in the house became, so to say, a moral spur to its inhabitants."(pp 31-32)
A dozen years go by and due to a fortuitous joining of Babette's good luck at winning a French lottery and the plans of the sisters to celebrate the birthday of their father, Babette is allowed to prepare a feast for them and their guests. It is a feast that is transcendent in many ways and proves to be the culmination of the transformation of many lives. This is the most beautiful section of the short story but by no means the only one in a story that demonstrates the ability of the process of art to reach an apotheosis for which we reserve words like enchantment and angelic. While not the only story in this collection this is the most famous and one which certainly makes the collection a worthwhile book to read. ( )
  jwhenderson | May 3, 2014 |
Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard is really two different books: Anecdotes of Destiny, a collection of short stories about fate, and Ehrengard, an operetta of a novella set in an 18th century German principality. In my edition they each have their own copyright page, the fonts are different, and the page count resets to "0" in the second section--it's like the just stuck the typeset of the two previous separate editions together and called it a book without actually making any effort to actually create a unified piece.

Anecdotes of Destiny is a series of five short stories that have almost nothing in common except that each one has a character that must face his/her destiny and what is important in life. The most famous of these is probably Babette's Feast, which was made into a movie, also called Babette's Feast, in 1987. That story concerns two fundamentalist Lutheran sisters in Norway who reject the offers of the world and remain at home with their father's congregation, only to have their lives forever changed when they take in a French refugee as their cook. The other four stories rather pale in comparison, but range in subject from fantasy medieval Persia to 19th century Canton and back to Scandinavia.

Ehrengard], on the other hand, is a comedy about manipulating people. In a mythical German principality, the Crown Prince and Princess got to know each other a bit too soon, and the heir is due two months early! To hide this, the Queen makes up a story and sends the Princess to an isolated state to wait out the birth and the following two months. Among the entourage, are the artist Cazotte and Ehrengard who becomes the princess's lady in waiting. Cazotte is quite the ladies' man and sets his sights on virginal Ehrengard, who seems ripe for the taking. But who is taking whom?

It was rather hit and miss with this one, but that's frequently the case with short story collections. But the prose is good, and the characterizations interesting. So if you're a fan of Babette's Feast and never realized there was a book or if you just like good short stories, you may want to pick it up. ( )
  inge87 | Sep 7, 2013 |
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In Shiraz lived a young student of theology by the name of Saufe who was highly gifted and pure of heart.
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These editions include the novella Ehrengard.
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Tells the stories of Lady Ehrengard's affair with an eccentric portrait painter and five people in the past who are caught up in their own peculiar fates.

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