The Poems of Aphra Behn: A Selection

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Faint smudge on foredge of pages. ; N Y U Press Women's Classics; 288 pages

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Aphra Behn (1640-89) was a popular poet, author of the influential novel Oroonoko, and one of the most successful dramatists of the Restoration theater. Behn led an unusually active and eventful life for a woman of her era, traveling widely—to Surinam in 1663 and to Antwerp in 1666, where Charles II sent her as a spy during the Anglo-Dutch war. Returning to England she spent some time in a debtor's prison and subsequently devoted herself to writing, publishing numerous poems and almost twenty plays between 1670 and 1689.

Because of the overtly political nature of her work, much of Behn's writing appeared anonymously and in many different versions. The Poetry of Aphra Behn is the first accessible reprinting of Aphra Behn's verses since the seventeenth century. Encompassing the entirety of her oeuvre, from satirical writings to songs, love poems, and verse epistles, the book is a testament to the life and mind of a remarkable woman.

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Editorial Reviews

Aphra Behn, one of the most successful dramatists of the Restoration, published many poems in addition to her 19 witty, risque plays. Behn died in April 1689 and was buried at Westminster Abbey, where the inscription on the black marble slab reads: Here lies a Proof That Wit can never be / Defence enough against Mortality. Throughout her life Behn railed against a mercantile ethos that reduced politics and sex to cash relations. While she emphasized her need to earn a living by her poetry and prose, she also demanded recognition of her status as an artist. The editor reports this is the first accessible reprinting of Behn's verse since the 17th century. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Janet Todd's most recent book is Mary Wollstonecraft. She is Professor of English at the University of East Anglia.

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Table of Contents

Note on this Edition
Songs and Satires 1
Love Poetry 26
Verse Epistles 47
Translation and Paraphrase 76
Prologues and Epilogues 124
Commendation and Elegy 130
Poems of Loyalty 166
Notes 199
Index of First Lines 251
Index of Titles 253
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