Study Guide

Out of Africa Writing Style

By Isak Dinesen

Writing Style


Somebody forgot to tell the Baroness about the semicolon, the period, or the conjunctions in English. She is the queen of the run-on sentence, piling on clause after clause with mere commas to join them. Here's a sample:

"All the people, whom I told of this happening, laughed at Father Bernard, and explained that the young Kikuyus had seen a chance of higher wages, or lighter work, or of getting a bicycle to ride on, at the French Mission, and had therefore invented their conversion in regard to the Transubstantiation." (4.1.168)

Phew! Try reading that out loud without sounding like you have the hiccups! But in all seriousness, you get a sort of a stream-of-consciousness feeling from reading these long sentences. It's as though the author didn't do much censoring or editing after getting all her memories down on paper. This has the result of making the book feel more immediate, and maybe even more authentic.