Oroonoko and Other Writings, Paperback Book

Oroonoko and Other Writings Paperback

Edited by Dr Paul Salzman

Part of the Oxford World's Classics series

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


'I value fame almost as much as if I had been born a hero'. (Preface to The Lucky Chance). Aphra Behn (1640-89) achieved both fame and notoriety in her own time, enjoying considerable success for her plays and for her short novel Oroonoko, the story of a noble slave who loves a princess. Acclaimed by Virginia Woolf as the first English woman to earn her living by the pen, Behn's achievements as a writer are now acknowledged less equivocally than in the seventeenth century.

As well as Oroonoko, this volume contains five other works of fiction ranging from comedy and high melodrama to tragedy.

The Fair Jilt, Memoirs of the Court of the King of Bantam, The History of the Nun, The Adventure of the Black Lady, and The Unfortunate Bride are complemented by a generous selection of her poetyr, ranging from public political verse to lyrics and witty conversation poems.

This selection demonstrates Behn's range, as well as her wit, compassion, and interest in the question of identity and self-representation.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Poetry by individual poets
  • ISBN: 9780199538768

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(This review is about the novel "Oroonoko" as I have not yet had a chance to read the other short works included in the text)This is the second time I've had to read this for a class--this time it is included in my 17th and 18th century literature class, otherwise it is unlikely that I would have ever picked it up. Aphra Behn is clearly a talented writer. Better known for her plays, she also wrote poetry, short stories, and novels. "Oroonoko" is one of her novels, though it was later turned into a play by Thomas Southern. I actually recommend reading them together (See "Oroonoko: A tragedy" By Thomas Southern) though one should certainly read Behn first as Southern took enormous liberties with the original story which included adding comedy and changing the race of major characters. But it is by reading Southern and seeing the changes he made, that one can really appreciate Behn."Oroonoko" is about an African prince from Suriname who falls in love with a woman named Imoinda. He marries her but unfortunately the king falls in love with her beauty and claims her for himself. The lovers continue to meet in secret but are eventually discovered, and sold into slavery. Behn goes out of her way to describe Oroonoko as an honorable, intelligent, and handsome man who believes the best in vitually everybody he meets. He is a heroic warrior, who was only tricked into slavery because he is betrayed. The lovers eventually remeet in America (both as slaves), where Oroonoko continues to leave his mark on everyone he meets. It seems nobody can believe how kind and honest he is. Meanwhile everyone continues to fall in love with Imoinda because of her incredible beauty. Oroonoko eventually forms a rebellion in order for his family to escape their slavery. I will not spoil the ending except to say that it does not end happily for either of the lovers. There aren't any words to describe it except perhaps-- gruesome. In all, one can hardly read it without thinking of Dryden or Shakespeare, but it is still an impressive work that needs to be more widely read than it is now.

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