Oroonoko

Behn, Aphra

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Restoration-era poet, playwright and novelist Aphra Behn was the first truly professional woman writer in English, and Oroonoko is her sophisticated and insightful condemnation of slavery.

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 noble savages 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.

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