Picks and Pans Review: On Modern Marriage and Other Observations

updated 02/15/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/15/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Isak Dinesen

Dinesen's own marriage to Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke had long since disintegrated when she wrote this long essay in 1923-24 as a letter to her brother Thomas. (Her memoir Out of Africa wasn't published until 1937.) It is a plea for the end of formal marriage and acceptance of what she refers to as "free love." In a "free relationship," she writes, "the beloved is everything, the beginning." In marriage, "two personalities meet in an idea, and neither one of them is the most important thing in life to the other, but marriage itself is so to them both." Dinesen never refers to her personal experiences with marriage, but the book remains valuable as an insight into a fascinating woman and, even after 65 years, it could start a provocative conversation about the essence of "modern" marriages. (St. Martin's, paper, $7.95)

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