Books: Grotesque & Sublime

LAST TALES (341 pp.)—Isak Dinesen—Random House ($4).

The dozen stories in this new collection may be the literary testament of one of the most skilled but least prolific writers of the 20th century. Isak Dinesen is the pen name of Danish-born Baroness Karen Blixen, who has produced only four other books (Seven Gothic Tales, Out of Africa, Winter's Tales, The Angelic Avengers) in her 72 years. She works, for the most part, in the narrow and demanding field of the Gothic story—a romantic form requiring a controlled mixture of the grotesque and the sublime, where plot tragically turns on the concept of...

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