The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Saturday, March 22, 2014


An enjoyable and great read

Baron Bror Fredrik von Blixen-Finecke (25 July 1886 – 4 March 1946) is probably best remembered as being the unfaithful but likable husband of writer Karen Blixen in the movie "Out of Africa", but during his twenty-four years living in Africa he became highly respected professional hunter, or at it was known at those politically incorrect times, White Hunter.

Bror von Blixen was known to his friends simply as Blix, and we could say that he had a restless soul that demanded constant change and action and hated stability and repetition. Therefore, what better profession to suit a wanderer than a big game hunter, leading distinguished clients, such as Edward, Prince of Wales, after wandering and exotic dangerous animals through the heart of an Africa that was still savage.

But the same need to wander would eventually take Blix from Kenya to Cuba to go deep sea fishing in a boat name Pillar with a certain Ernest Hemingway, who he describes as "a gigantic fellow weighting, I am sure" over a hundred and ninety pounds with shoulders like a wrestler and a chest like Hercules."

In return Hemingway said that "The Baron was not a man that you forget", and to make sure about that he used Blixen as the inspiration for professional hunter Robert Wilson in the unparalleled short-story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." It is important to mention that although Mr. Wilson is inspired in Bror von Blixen, the story's love triangle and its outcome is really based on events of the life of John Henry Patterson, writer and slayer of "The Man-eaters of Tsavo," but that is another story.

During some of his elephant hunting years Blix had a close association with another fantastic and larger than life Africana figure, Beryl Markham, writer of "West with the Night" and the first person to fly across the Atlantic from East to West. Anyhow, Miss Markham used her light Gipsy Moss airplane to scout for elephant, which Blix and his clients would them pursuit on foot.

About those times Miss Markham would later say "Six feet of amiable Swede and, to my knowledge, the toughest, most durable White Hunter ever to snicker at the fanfare of safari or to shoot a charging buffalo between the eyes while debating whether his sundown drink will be gin or whisky.”

Blix left Africa, never to return, in 1938 following the accidental death of his third wife, Swedish adventuress Eva Dickson, moving first to the United States of America and then back to Sweden where he took a field hospital during World War II.

His book "African Hunter" was also translated to English in year of his exodus, and it is an insightful and entertaining book, that any professional small boy will devour, be it in the confines or a jet plane during a business trip, or by the dim light of a dying flashlight under the canopy formed by a light blanket out over the head, so your parents cannot see that you are way past your sleeping hour.

I believe that some the best compliment to Blix came from his first wife, Karen, who is reported to having said shortly before her death that "If I could wish anything back of my life, it would be to go on safari once again with Bror..."

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