Friday, October 1, 2010

the happy valley set

tI have of late, but wherefore I know not, become completely obsessed with the happy valley set. im reading a book from work called "the temptess."

its about Countess Alice de Janze (note rare use of capitols), a somewhat cultish figure noted for her melancholy and sucide attempts and an inspiration for a character in f. scott fitzgerald's "tender is the night."

she was part of the legendary happy valley set a group of british ex-patriots living in kenya during the early part of 19th cent, mostly teens and twenties. the happy valley set were notorious partiers and legend has them all addicted to opium and engaging in orgies.

this woman was depicted quite outrageously by the great british actress sarah miles—

noted for her nudity and mildly scandalous film roles (she was in "sailor who fell from grace with the sea," based upon the Yukio Mishima novel of the same title, an interesting film if only for the antics of miss sarah miles...) in the film "white mischief"...

a true account of a famous murder case in kenya in the twenties, another film to watch...but, of course, the real alice was american and she did not take opium let alone inject it. out of africa, the book and the film depicts karen blixen (whose pen name was issac dinesen)

was around during this period but did not participate in the happy valley set but, a character depicted in that film did—beryl markham. her book "west with the night" has been in print continually and is perhaps, besides issac dinesen's, the best written account of life in africa for british ex-pats. 

there was a very bad made for tv film in the 80s of her life—do not watch this film...

apparenty, hemingway hooked up with Bror von Blixen-Finecke, karens danish husband, and this man was hemingways inspiration for "the snows of kilimanjaro.." but, who knows...the gregory peck film "the snows of kilimanjaro" with ava garnder is worth watching.

in the sydney pollack film "out of africa," robert redford played denys finch hatton, a distant earl of something or other but a second or third son forced to make is way in africa. a great little paperback book on his life has recently been published—too close to the sun—the audacious life and times of denys finch hatton...


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