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This long-awaited Norton Critical Edition of Aphra Behn’s best-known and most influential work makes available the original 1688 text, the only text published in her lifetime.
The editor supplies explanatory annotations and textual notes.
"Historical Backgrounds" is an especially rich collection of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century documents about colonizers and slaves in the new world. Topically arranged-"Montaigne on America,"
"The Settling of Surinam," "Observers of Slavery, 1654–1712," "After
Oroonoko: Noble Africans in Europe," and "Opinions on Slavery"-these selections create a revealing context for Behn’s unusual story.
Illustrations and maps are also included.
"Criticism" begins with an overview of responses to Behn and Oroonoko,
from learned and popular writers of her time to Sir Walter Scott and
Virginia Woolf, among others. Current critical interpretations are by
William C. Spengemann, Jane Spencer, Robert L. Chibka, Laura Brown,
Charlotte Sussman, and Mary Beth Rose.
A Chronology of Behn’s life and a Selected Bibliography are included.
I am always impressed with the level of detail from the Norton Critical Edition Series. The actual novel is only 60-plus pages and all nouns are capitalized and proper nouns are italicized, so it takes some adjustment. However, the novel was a major breakthrough for women writers, because Aphra Behn was the first female to write a novel in a male-dominated era. Her story of Oroonoko was an attempt to inspire social change in regards to slavery, though many of her descriptions of the slaves and scenery suggests Behn was at least unconsciously complicit in a European ethnocentric ideology. The rest of this edition is full of historical backgrounds, criticisms, and various other relevant material. I highly recommend this edition for critical study.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.