When Prince Oroonoko's passion for the virtuous Imoinda arouses the jealousy of his grandfather, the lovers are cast into slavery and transported from Africa to the colony of Surinam.

Reviews of the Oroonoko

Behn returned from Suriname to England, claiming to be a 'widow' to a Dutchman, after the restoration of Charles II, she worked for a while in Holland as a spy, but wasn't paid her expenses, despite this she was a loyal supporter of Charles II, then his brother James II. Perhaps the story is mostly invention, Jenny Uglow in her study of the first ten years of Charles II's restoration regime A Gambling Man, tells us that restoration stories were very popular in the restoration period as you will not fall off your chairs in shock to read, kings and Princes unjustly exiled and returning to their rightful kingdoms was the political story of the reading public's lives and they delighted to see such on the stage, nor was the taste limited to European heroes, one play The Indian Queen, was set in Mexico and seemingly was inspired by the story of the conquest of the Aztecs. And one of Charles II's nicknames was 'Black Boy' (he was more olive skinned in colour than the more typical English lobster red) indeed the physical description of our hero Prince Oroonoko, with his Roman nose and black hair falling loosely down to his shoulders, reminds me more than a little of the Merry Monarch. Ok, while we have a hero who is an African Prince, if he is based on a real character, do we admire him because Behn has presented him 'Hollywood style' - acceptable to a broad bottomed audience - so he looks a bit like Charles II, has similar tastes and learning as a 17th century European gentleman, and who pointedly sulks in his tent like Achilles at one point? Behn struggles with the notion of beauty, in places it seems that if your skin tone is not white, that you can not be beautiful, in others she points to Oroonoko's ebony skin colour as particularly handsome and impressive, while she does mention his roman nose and that his hair has been teased out and so approximating European male beauty standards of the time, she is also taken by his distinctly non-European ritual scarification.

There's a quiz on this tomorrow that's likely to consist of 'Who was the main character?' and 'What was the climax?' and 'Name three unconnected plot points that demonstrate ______' (It's been a while since my last English Lit class and I'm totally making shit up), so I'll get my digressive What I Think About This Thing out of the way here. When all that's said and done, what's interesting is the tale of how this piece made its way into the canon and has survived all these long years. The first woman (supposedly) to support herself via writing, the multiple wholesale condemnations of Christianity and Europeans made during the course of the narrative, the irony that would be considered satire if it didn't involve cultural enslavement and willful genocide, the fact that it's pretty readable, the combination a bunch of genres that weren't being combined at the time, and many other unusual aspects make for a peculiar creation whose survival is still a question when one looks at all the female-authored experimentations that have fallen by the wayside.

This is a historical romance/tragedy about a captured king brought into slavery in English Suriname.

There are some details about life in early colonized South America that are neat; Behn wrote from personal experience. At this very early stage, when the concept of prose was still being invented, novelists tended to do this: "And then the savage said that he was unhappy here." Just stating the facts.

This is a story by Aphra Behn, a woman who lived and wrote during the Restoration in England. In the early 20th century she was made more popular when Virginia Woolf stated that "all women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds". Behn gives us a rather gloom picture of slavery in the 17th century.

Aphra Behn was a prolific dramatist of the English Restoration and was one of the first English professional female writers. Woolf wrote, "All women together, ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn...

  • English

  • Classics

  • Rating: 2.98
  • Pages: 144
  • Publish Date: October 30th 2003 by Penguin Classics
  • Isbn10: 0140439889
  • Isbn13: 9780140439885