LORELAI: Okay, last week we were talking about Meryl Streep and the whole accent thing, and Rachel said that she loved Out of Africa, but she’d never read the book, remember?
LORELAI: Okay, so I was like, “Are you crazy? Isak Dinesen is amazing, I love her.” Which is kind of crap because I’d never read the book either, but Rory told me it was amazing, so I felt pretty confident in my recommendation of Out of Africa.
Out of Africa is a 1937 memoir by Isak Dinesen, the pen name of Danish author Karen Blixen. It describes the seventeen years that Blixen spent in Kenya, then called British East Africa. It is a meditation on her life on her coffee plantation, and some of the people she encountered there.
The book is non-chronological in structure, and is notable for its melancholic, poetic style that is above all a tribute to the Africa she knew, and a world that had changed irretrievably. That she helped change it did not seem to make a strong impression on her, although her notes on the African people are understanding and accepting, and they admired her as wise and trustworthy.
It seems appropriate that Rory would enjoy Out of Africa. We know that she admires women writers, books on travel, memoir and autobiography, and works with a certain lyrical sadness to them – she likes things that make her feel “gloomy”.
Out of Africa was adapted into film in 1985, directed by Sydney Pollack, and starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the lead roles. The film has several differences from the book, and focuses on Karen Blixen’s love affair with a hunter named Denys Finch Hatton (an Englishman, although Robert Redford plays him with an American accent). Meryl Streep spent a lot of time listening to tapes of Karen Blixen speaking, and chose an old-fashioned, aristocratic accent for her character, which Sydney Pollack thought excessive; Streep is well known for her mastery of different accents.
Out of Africa was the #5 film of 1985 and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Director. Despite this, it received mixed reviews from critics.
The fact that Luke can’t remember a word of a conversation with Rachel doesn’t seem very promising for their relationship. As Out of Africa is in part about a doomed love affair, it is possible that Rachel may read something into the gift that Luke has “chosen” for her.