He got famous when he was portrayed in the movie “Out of Africa”, his character was played by Robert Redford. The book ‘Out of Africa’ was written by Isak Dinesen (also known as Karen Blixen). She romanticed her stay on a coffeefarm near Nairobi. Karen Blixen was married, but her marriage with the Swedish baron Bor Blixen was not a happy one. He often was on the go, hunting throughout the whole of East Africa. But even Denys Finch Hatton (1887-1931) took a lof of time hunting. Karen’s love  for Denys was stronger than Denys’ love for Karen. And this book is about this lover.

The subtitle of the book is ‘The life and times …’, but it could better be ‘The times and life …’ because not much is known about the life of Denys, that is clear from this book. He spent lots of time travelling through Kenya, and from Kenya to England and back to Kenya. In England he stayed with friends, male and female, of the well to do class.  But to me it was not clear what he was doing all these months in England. There are hardly any written sources by Denys himself.  We have to depend on the times in which he lived and on remarks made about him by contemporaries.

So what do we hear in this book about Denys? We hear people praise him. He must have been a very special person, a charming man. It seems to pay to live by your charmes and the generosity by the people with whom you mingle. Money was not an issue. When flying become within reach of more people Denys took flying lessons and took a plane with him to Kenya. He used it for his hunting expeditions, from the air he could see where the elephants were. His small plane was not only the downfall of many elephants, but also the downfall of Denys when his plane crashed. 

This book paints a picture of the well-to-do white tribe in Kenya, prior to de Depression and the second world war. 

Sara Wheeler – Too close to the sun. The life and times of Denys Finch Hatton – London 2006

too close to the sun

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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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