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Old 12-14-2016, 04:55 PM   #16
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Great review, fantasyfan.

I watched the film last night - Danish audio with English subtitles; the Criterion Collection did a DVD/BluRay re-release in 2013. The movie is very faithful to the story; the are only a few minor variances.
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Old 12-14-2016, 05:55 PM   #17
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Thanks for the review fantasyfan :-).

It did remind me of one thing though regarding the passage in the book

. . . when set down on the kitchen floor it suddenly shot out a snake-like head . . . Martine had . . . as a child owned a pet tortoise, but this thing was monstrous in size and terrible to behold.

In fact sea turtles, which are the ones that are eaten, cannot retract their heads as tortoises can, their heads and necks are permanently extended. So Martine could never have seen the turtle shoot out a snake like head.

I did wonder about this when I read it as all the sea turtles I had seen had permanently distended necks, I checked and, as far as I can determine, apparently all sea turtles are the same in that respect. Note that I am talking sea turtles here, not fresh water turtles, and many people incorrectly call terrapins turtles but which are quite different (clawed feet instead of flippers, for example). I think that sea turtles can swing their necks side ways to bring the head beside the carapace, but am not sure on that.

My pedantry on that comes from a lifetime associated with the sea . But to settle myself I suspect an Australian could just as quickly identify a passage confusing salt water crocs with freshwater ones .

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Old 12-15-2016, 06:29 AM   #18
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Goodness, the things one learns in this Club! Thanks for that, AnotherCat. We can only assume that Karen Blixen had never seen a sea turtle.

And you are right - there's a vast, life and death difference between a "salty" and a "freshy".
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Old 12-15-2016, 11:46 AM   #19
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Goodness, the things one learns in this Club! Thanks for that, AnotherCat. We can only assume that Karen Blixen had never seen a sea turtle.

And you are right - there's a vast, life and death difference between a "salty" and a "freshy".
Yes indeed. I thought that all turtles could nip their heads into their shells.
I knew that terrapins were different than aquatic turtles but only because some people in Ireland keep them as garden pets.
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Old 12-15-2016, 03:53 PM   #20
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All of this is tied to the calling of the great artist. It is they who share their vision through their gift. Babette has no more money: she has spent it all to share her transcendent power. But she is not poor.

"No, I shall never be poor. I told you that I am a great artist. A great artist, Mesdames, is never poor. We have something, Mesdames, of which other people know nothing."
Great point about the calling of an artist.

I'm reading Haruki Murakami’s new book Absolutely on Music. In the introduction, he talks about how, although Seiji Ozawa was recuperating from esophageal cancer, he was still practicing and performing intensely:
“For Seiji Ozawa, music was the indispensable fuel that kept him moving through life. Without periodic injections of live music into his veins, he could not go on living. There was only one way in this world for him to feel truly alive, and that was for him to create music with his own hands...”

There is a nice tension in the story about how the sisters and the sect members see Babette, versus how Babette sees herself. The sect members see Babette as "the dark Martha in the house of their two fair Marys"; the sisters "had granted their servant a prayer" to provide a festive meal. After the feast, the sisters feel sorry for Babette, who had not chosen that good part; it is then that Babette declares her self.
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Old 12-16-2016, 03:53 PM   #21
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I'm reading Haruki Murakami’s new book Absolutely on Music. In the introduction, he talks about how, although Seiji Ozawa was recuperating from esophageal cancer, he was still practicing and performing intensely:
“For Seiji Ozawa, music was the indispensable fuel that kept him moving through life. Without periodic injections of live music into his veins, he could not go on living. There was only one way in this world for him to feel truly alive, and that was for him to create music with his own hands...”

There is a nice tension in the story about how the sisters and the sect members see Babette, versus how Babette sees herself. The sect members see Babette as "the dark Martha in the house of their two fair Marys"; the sisters "had granted their servant a prayer" to provide a festive meal. After the feast, the sisters feel sorry for Babette, who had not chosen that good part; it is then that Babette declares her self.
Great insight! It underlines the irony that is in this story.
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Old 12-16-2016, 05:25 PM   #22
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One of the things that, for me, qualifies a novel as being a good one is if on getting to the end of it one feels that a reread would deliver more from it without its becoming boring. For example, most of Dickens novels are that way for me, the only exception being Bleak House which for me moves as slowly and tediously as the Jarndyce and Jarndyce case in its background.

I have to say that Babette's Feast, although a short story and as I have said I am not a fan of short stories, holds that measure of quality for me. So I may even read it again; heaven knows I may even sometime have a go at the whole Anecdotes of Destiny collection .
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Old 12-16-2016, 06:12 PM   #23
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I agree on rereading - so much more there to be picked up when you aren't reading to find out what happens. (But I loved Bleak House, though I have never reread it!)
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Old 12-16-2016, 06:59 PM   #24
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Well, even though I did not like Bleak House I can claim to have read it more than once, but only just .

I had it as a set book, way back in the past, and when my paper was returned it had been given 96% but there was a line through that. Underneath was a comment about my analysis being good but as I had said that I could only get 3/4 of the way through the book, as I found it so tedious, it only deserved 56% .

My mother taught English too and so the marker was a family acquaintance and it became a bit of a friendly joke on me. But only a couple of years later he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and before he died I told him that I would read Bleak House right through. It took me a couple of decades to get to it but I did.

So I have read it 1-3/4 times .
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:31 PM   #25
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Nice story!
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Old 01-01-2017, 04:44 PM   #26
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Happy New Year, everyone! I am finally catching up on my reading. I really enjoyed this story. I am glad that the book club selected another author who I've wanted to read for awhile. The discussion in this thread was also very interesting, and I'm sorry to have missed it in real-time.

I think it was a great selection for this time of year. Not just because it was short but because of the messages contained within too. I also watched the movie and enjoyed it as well. Even my husband was still commenting a few days later that he liked the movie. The same cannot be said of some of our other reads that were made into movies!

I read a few other stories within Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard and also think they are very good. I like her writing style. She delivers impact with a simplicity of words.

I thought this article on her writing was interesting: "Karen Blixen and Isak Dinesen: One woman, two authors."
http://news.ku.dk/all_news/2012/2012...n_two_authors/

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Old 01-01-2017, 06:45 PM   #27
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And a Happy New Year from me too.

Thanks very much for this link, Bookworm_Girl. How very interesting to know this, both that she wrote nearly all her novels in English and then translated them, and also that she made changes. So the Danish versions are the revised texts I suppose, but also, it seems, stylistically different.
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Old 02-12-2017, 02:34 PM   #28
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I really loved this short story. I read the complete collection it is from, Anecdotes of Destiny, as well as the novella Ehrengard, which two were combined to form the book I bought. Babette's Feast is (of course, since it is so famous) one of the best of the collection. The quality of stories in the collection varies greatly but they mostly all have the similarity of this almost mystical and purposely old-fashioned aura.

Speaking of re-reads, and also the film, which were both brought up in previous posts, this is a digression that is hopefully not over-sharing but I have to say that so far I have very rarely ever re-read (or re-watched) anything, unless I had to back in school. I have had a very good memory and to me it had almost always been utterly boring to revisit even something I'd loved because I'd remembered it too well even years and years later. I think part of it was that I paid very close attention to whatever I was doing; when I watched something I would focus solely on the film while I know many others fidget around, talk and do other things while watching, and when I read I read slowly and deliberately (this is not simply a positive though - I may have remembered more than others but I ended up reading less than others for the time put in). There have been a few times someone would get me to rewatch a film I loved and the feeling of boredom was almost always confirmed (a very few films - I could count them on one hand - with musical numbers or very emotional sections that resonated with me were the exception, and even then only a few viewings total over the years). I could never understand why most people, even ones the same age as me or younger, seemed to like rewatching favourite films or re-reading favourite books over and over but I didn't, though eventually I came to realise that most people didn't remember the details of the stories as well as I did, so each revisit would bring them fresh surprises regardless, while to me it was wasting time with something I knew so well when I could be reading or watching something new.

I'm not drifting into this tangent this to brag though, if it seems like I am (and anyway I've read many, many posts here and there on this site not-bragging about how fast so many posters at MR read, so it's tit for tat I guess even if someone thinks I am bragging ); actually it's quite the opposite for me because it hasn't lasted. Now I am approaching 40. This may seem young enough to some, but it seems old enough to me. The last say three to five years my memory for these types of things has slowly but dramatically decreased. I don't know why. I don't know if it's normal or whatnot - the change seems early and a bit dramatic to me compared to what I had before - but regardless I find I don't remember things like that nearly as well anymore. I'm eating my spinach and such hoping to ward it off but it's already noticeable. Case in point and the reason I've shared this here - Babette's Feast the film, which I watched back in the '90s. I'm sure before the last few years I would've remembered most of the entire film; now I remember very little of it. If I watched it again it would almost be like watching for the first time. Even reading the story didn't bring back memories of the film aside from the few glimpses I already remembered, which this blankness on something I'd read or watched is a new and strange feeling for me. The main discrepancy I remember is, isn't the film set in Denmark? While the short story is set by a fjord on the wild Norwegian coast.

Suffice it to say, it's bittersweet, but with the loss of my sharp ability to recall details of books I'd already read I suppose the gain is the more usual ability to now be able to re-read things I previously liked with fresh enjoyment. They do say to always look on the bright side, no? So perhaps a rewatch of Babette's Feast is in order.

Anyway, on the subject of biblical imagery in the story, I do wonder - do any of you think there are any deliberate similarities between this and the last supper? Besides an important meal between a group of acquaintances I'm not sure I do, but then I wasn't reading the story with that in mind and only thought of the possibility now when reading the thread. And I'm curious- did anyone get the number of people at the feast? I'd like to know if it aligns with the number at the last supper.

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I absolutely loved this book. As well as dealing with a number of transcendental themes such as the nature of spirituality, love, art, and life-goals, there were also some gently humorous moments such as Martine's first view of the turtle.

" . . . when set down on the kitchen floor it suddenly shot out a snake-like head . . . Martine had . . . as a child owned a pet tortoise, but this thing was monstrous in size and terrible to behold. She backed out of the kitchen without a word."

Earlier she sees what appears to be (horror) wine. When she queries Babette, this is the response: is

"Wine, Madame! . . . No Madame. It is a Clos Vougeot 1846! . . . From Philippe, in Rue Montorguel."

"Martine had never suspected that wines could have names to them, and was put to silence."

But I believe the book has a deep message about spirituality. The father of the sisters trained his flock that spiritual power was linked to austerity. But Babette creates a world of the spirit through the art of a feast.

"Taciturn old people received the gift of tongues; ears that for years had been almost deaf were opened to it. Time itself had merged into eternity. Long after midnight the windows of the house shone like gold, and golden song flowed out into the winter air."

And again:

"The vain illusions of this earth has dissolved before their eyes like smoke, and they had seen the universe as it really is. They had been given one hour of the millennium."

All of this is tied to the calling of the great artist. It is they who share their vision through their gift. Babette has no more money: she has spent it all to share her transcendent power. But she is not poor.

"No, I shall never be poor. I told you that I am a great artist. A great artist, Mesdames, is never poor. We have something, Mesdames, of which other people know nothing."

Much more can be said. I've only scratched the surface of this beautiful story, but I would also recommend the utterly exquisite Danish film from 1987 which does full justice to the book. It, too, should not be missed.
Yes, yes and yes! Great post, fantasyfan.
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Old 02-12-2017, 05:50 PM   #29
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We are told that with the addition of General Loewenhielm, "they would now be twelve for dinner". Rather than the Last Supper, I think there is a suggestion of Pentecost:

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Of what happened later in the evening nothing definite can here be stated. None of the guests later on had any clear remembrance of it. They only knew that the rooms had been filled with a heavenly light, as if a number of small halos had blended into one glorious radiance. Taciturn old people received the gift of tongues; ears that for years had been almost deaf were opened to it. Time itself had merged into eternity. Long after midnight, the windows of the house shone like gold, and golden song flowed out into the winter air.
There is a benefit in not remembering books and films too precisely, sun surfer: there is the delight of revisiting an old friend when one rereads a beloved book!

Seriously though, they do say that one of the best things for keeping the brain sharp is to learn something new - learn a language, go to art classes, learn to play an instrument. We might not ever be very good at the new thing, but the work that it gives the brain is supposed to be very beneficial.
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Old 02-14-2017, 12:40 PM   #30
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We are told that with the addition of General Loewenhielm, "they would now be twelve for dinner". Rather than the Last Supper, I think there is a suggestion of Pentecost:



There is a benefit in not remembering books and films too precisely, sun surfer: there is the delight of revisiting an old friend when one rereads a beloved book!

Seriously though, they do say that one of the best things for keeping the brain sharp is to learn something new - learn a language, go to art classes, learn to play an instrument. We might not ever be very good at the new thing, but the work that it gives the brain is supposed to be very beneficial.
Interesting comment about a Pentecostal idea there, Bookpossum.

I agree about the benefits of trying something new. I have begun doing volunteer docent work at a local museum. It's very enjoyable and I am getting a whole new educational experience!
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