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Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave

Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn
By: (1640-1689)

Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave is a powerful and heart-wrenching novel that explores themes of love, honor, betrayal, and the horrors of slavery. Aphra Behn masterfully weaves a tale that is both gripping and thought-provoking, drawing readers into the world of Oroonoko, a prince who is betrayed and sold into slavery.

The characters in the novel are richly drawn and complex, particularly Oroonoko himself. His struggles and suffering are depicted with such vividness and emotion that it is impossible not to feel deeply for him. Behn deftly captures the brutality and dehumanization of slavery, portraying the atrocities committed against Oroonoko and his fellow slaves in a way that is both harrowing and impactful.

Despite the darkness of the subject matter, there are moments of beauty and love in the novel as well. Oroonoko's relationship with Imoinda is portrayed with such tenderness and depth that it serves as a poignant counterpoint to the violence and cruelty that surrounds them. Behn's writing is lyrical and powerful, drawing readers in and immersing them in the world she has created.

Overall, Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave is a compelling and important read that sheds light on a dark chapter in history. Behn's skillful storytelling and powerful themes make this novel a true classic that continues to resonate with readers today.

Book Description:

Aphra Behn was the first woman writer in England to make a living by her pen, and her novel Oroonoko was the first work published in English to express sympathy for African slaves. Perhaps based partly on Behn’s own experiences living in Surinam, the novel tells the tragic story of a noble slave, Oroonoko, and his love Imoinda. The work was an instant success and was adapted for the stage in 1695 (and more recently by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1999).

Behn’s work paved the way for women writers who came after her, as Virginia Woolf noted in a Room of One’s Own (1928): “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.”

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