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Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn
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Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave (1688)

by Aphra Behn

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English (22)  French (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I did not read this edition--I read only Oroonoko and the sections of the intro dealing with Behn's life and this story, in this edition [b:The Novels of Mrs. Aphra Behn|4670078|The Novels of Mrs. Aphra Behn|Aphra Behn|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-a91bf249278a81aabab721ef782c4a74.png|4720504].

I am struggling with this story, and am also a bit confused. If this is "the first emancipation novel" as claimed by the introduction in my edition, why does the introduction also claim it really is based in truth, and that Behn spent several years (up to age 18) in Suriname? I find it very hard to believe that it is based in truth, because what slaveholder would permit a slave to not work (king or otherwise?). Yet other parts--the punishments and the entrapment--certainly seem as though they could be based in truth.

But maybe that small detail does not matter. Was this really "the first emancipation novel"? I have not read widely enough from this time period to have a definite answer. But is it even an emancipation novel? Or is it a romantic story about how African royalty look different and are smarter than "regular" Africans? Is it a don't-enslave-the-royalty novel? Or is it a blame-the-Africans-for-slavery novel, since they sold their enemies and captives? Or is this simply as close as one could get to an emancipation novel at the time--and expect it to be read?

Maybe I need to do more reading on the time/place to answer any of these questions for myself. I know next to nothing about the history of Suriname. I have read none of her other short novels, and do not know her style (but some skimming implies a lot of romanticism, I really don't want to read the rest of these stories). The intro to my edition is over 100 years old, and perhaps more of her history has been uncovered in the last 100 years. ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
Written in 1688, this book relates the story of an African Prince who is sold into slavery in Surinam. The book is fairly short but packed with power. It should be read by all...good book, really sad story but one that everyone should read. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
This is a very moving short story about the horrors of slavery. Aphra Behn is one of the first major female English writers and her text is very easy to read and understand. We see Oroonoko as a real human person instead of just being an ordinary slave. He is an African prince who heroically refuses to allow his unborn child be born into slavery. I recommend this novel as it is considered the first novel to be written in English and is one that should not be forgotten. ( )
  EadieB | Jan 19, 2016 |
Urgh! I seriously struggled with this - for a start all the nouns have capital letters, which yes, I know, was the style at the time, but I just found it distracting. Secondly I honestly had read about a quarter of it thinking it was just an introduction before I realised that actually I was reading the story. Of course, had it been a real book and not the kindle version I wouldn't have fallen into that trap. I kept looking forward to see when it would actually start. I found this dull and overly descriptive- did Behn REALLY need to tell us who everyone was related to? All it really achieved was a sense of confusion - and totally distracted from the story, which actually could have been quite good, although unbelievable. I nearly gave up on many occasions and it's taken me nearly two months to read. Unless you are a glutton for punishment I wouldn't go near it!! ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
This book was an extremely difficult read; prose in its most jawbreaking style. Thanks goodness it was short, because what should have been a single afternoon's read was instead stretched out over eight uch-I-can't-stand-this-let-me-read-something-else days. Had it been a regular-size novel, I'd still be reading it until kingdom come. I found the ending repugnant, horrific, and morally disgusting, and I'm glad I could move on quickly to the post-1700 books on the "1,001 books to read" list. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
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I do not pretend, in giving you the history of this Royal Slave, to entertain my reader with adventures of a feigned hero, whose life and fortunes fancy may manage at the poet's pleasure;
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140439889, Paperback)

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. Oroonoko’s noble bearing soon wins the respect of his English captors, but his struggle for freedom brings about his destruction. Inspired by Aphra Behn’s visit to Surinam, Oroonoko reflects the author’s romantic views of native peoples as being in “the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin.” The novel also reveals Behn’s ambiguous attitude toward slavery: while she favored it as a means to strengthen England’s power, her powerful and moving work conveys its injustice and brutality.

A new single-volume edition of this early anti-slavery novel
Includes introduction, carefully modernized text, chronology, suggestions for further reading, and explanatory notes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:53 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"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. Oroonoko's noble bearing soon wins the respect of his English captors, but his struggle for freedom brings about his destruction. Inspired by Aphra Behn's visit to Surinam, Oroonoko reflects the author's romantic view of native peoples as in 'the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin'. The novel also reveals Behn's ambiguous attitude to African slavery - while she favoured it as a means to strengthen England's rule, her powerful and moving work conveys its injustice and brutality." "This new edition of Oroonoko is based on the first printed version of 1688, and includes a chronology, further reading and notes. In her introduction, Janet Todd examines Aphra Behn's views of slavery, colonization and politics, and her position as a professional woman writer in Restoration."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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