When Prince Oroonokoas 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. Oroonokoas noble bearing soon wins the respect of his English captors, but his struggle for freedom brings about his destruction. Inspired by Aphra Behnas visit to Surinam, "Oroonoko" reflects the authoras romantic views of native peoples as being in athe first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin.a The novel also reveals Behnas ambiguous attitude toward slavery: while she favored it as a means to strengthen Englandas power, her powerful and moving work conveys its injustice and brutality.
Oroonoko, a novel published in 1688, is notable as an early protest against the slave trade and as a description of primitive people 'in the first state of innocence'. Aphra Behn's memories of her own visit to Surinam in 1663 provide a vivid background to the story in which Prince Oroonoko and the woman he loves are cast into slavery by his jealous grandfather. There follows a dramatic tale of revolt, betrayal and revenge in which the lovers pay the ultimate price for their beliefs.
Little is known of Aphra Behn's early life. She was probably born around 1640 in Kent and in the early 1660s claims to have visited the British colony of Surinam. She turned to literature for a living, producing numerous short stories, 19 stage plays and political propaganda for the Tories.Janet Todd is Francis Hutcheson Professor of English Literature, University of Glasgow and Aphra Behn's biographer.
Oroonoko is a poignant tragic story of an African prince whose grandfather, the king, denied him his true love, black beauty Imoinda . Betrayed and sold into slavery to British colonists, Oroonoko finds his lost love in the British colony of Suriname but fails to gain freedom for himself and his family and soon finds a tragic, grotesque death. This new edited version with an introduction, further reading and notes by Janet Todd, offers a fresh assessment of the literary and political contexts of Oronoko, providing also a summary of Aphra Behn's life and the criticism of her writing during the Restoration period. Particularly interesting is the editor's observation of Behn's controversial treatment of the racial differences and colonialism; Todd highlights how the narrator identifies herself with her hero - Imoinda, but also includes herself in the 'we' of the Europeans. Moving and thought-provoking. (Kirkus UK)
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