Out of Africa (1937) by Karen Blixen
The book was purposefully written as a picture of Kenya as it was, it is not an autobiography as such. The writing style of the book is clearly influenced by Isak Dinesen’s first language, Danish, and therefore has a magical air that is throughly enjoyable..
To quote a passage near the close of the book, when she has to leave the farm.. “when in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them. Circumstances can have a motive force by which they bring about events without aid of human imagination or apprehension. On such occasions you yourself keep in touch with what is going on by attentively following it from moment to moment, like a blind person who is being led, and who places one foot in front of the other cautiously but unwittingly. Things are happening to you, and you feel them happening, but except for this one fact, you have no connection with them, and no key to the cause and meaning of them. The performing wild animals in a circus go through their programme, I believe, in that same way. Those who have been through such events, can, in a way, say that they have been through death, a passage outside the range of imagination, but within the range of experience.”
Who could put such feelings into words? When writing trancends time and place, and illuminates our common human experience, this is when we know we have experienced great writing.