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Oroonoko (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – January 17, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0393970142 ISBN-10: 0393970140 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (January 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393970140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393970142
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Excellent copy text and really outstanding collection of contextual material - and at a remarkably low price...Congratulations!' - Peter New, University of Exeter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Aphra Behn flourished in the cosmopolitan world of the London playhouse and the court. It was she, Virginia Woolf wrote, "who earned [women] the right to speak their minds."

Joanna Lipking is Lecturer in English at Northwestern University, where she has taught since 1979. A Columbia Ph.D., she writes on women’s emergence in print culture. Her articles and reviews on Aphra Behn and other early women writers appear in Studies in the Eighteenth Century, The Eighteenth Century: A Current Bibliography, and the recent Cambridge University Press collection, Aphra Behn Studies.

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Customer Reviews

While I enjoyed the story, I must admit that I enjoyed reading the introduction and footnotes even more.
LuckyPropeller
Aphra Behn is credited not only with developing the pioneering female narrative but for addressing the inequality between men and women in the seventeenth century.
Christopher Sullivan
The footnotes in this version are a great help but the context of the story is enough for most readers to not get lost in archaic language.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on December 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a classic story about the horrors of slavery. I've heard this compared to "Uncle Tom's Cabin," but I don't think that's an accurate comparison. The story is about Orookono, an African prince who is deprived of his true love by his grandfather, the king. He is betrayed and sold into slavery, and happens to encounter his lost love in the New World, in the British colony of Suriname. The valiant prince (now called 'Caesar' by his overseers) tries to gain freedom for his wife and family, but in vain. If there is a story that does justice to the horrors of slavery, this is it.
I don't think this is the typical slave narrative because Orookono is a prince. Even the overlords treat him that way, and he seems more a victim of cruel fate than of slavery. Still, this valiant, brave-hearted soul is subjected and finally overcome by the cruel actions of the English colonists.
This story was written at the time the novel was first coming into being in England. It is revolutionary, and becomes even more so when considered that it came from the pen of a woman. Aphra Behn was one of the first major female English writers, and is arguably the best of her time. This is is great (short) novel, definitely well-worth your time.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was required reading for my American Literature course. Why read a story about an African prince in Surinam in an American Lit class? Voyage to a brave new world! That was the theme of the class. It encompassed the whole colonial experience in all of the "Americas". I am glad my professor went that route or I probably would never have read OROONOKO. This is a wonderful read. It is more a love story to me than a slave story. This book was written centuries ago but it is a very easy read. The footnotes in this version are a great help but the context of the story is enough for most readers to not get lost in archaic language. Add this one to your library. It is definitely worth it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William Krischke VINE VOICE on May 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is two great stories in one. It'd make a great movie.
Oroonoko is an African prince, in love with the beautiful Imoinda. When his elderly, impotent and slovenly uncle the king takes her into his harem, we get a nice Romeo and Juliet scenario that ends with Oroonoko thinking his lover is dead.
Later, the mighty prince is tricked by a sea captain and taken into bondage. He is sold into slavery in South America, where even his owners recognize his majesty. There he discovers his lost love, and something about the nature of bondage.
An compelling look at the nature of bondage, slavery, the human condition, European customs, love and passion, and honor. Especially intriguin because it was written in the 17th century, when slavery wasn't even a disputed practice.
The author is of note as well; Aphra Behn was the first woman to make a living as a writer. And she knows that her perspective is unique, and uses it to add to the story. How does the narrator really feel about this handsome African prince?
Pick it up. It's worthwhile.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By gac1003 on May 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Young Oroonoko, a Prince of Surinam, falls in love with a beautiful young maid named Imoinda. but unbeknownst to Oroonoko, his grandfather the King also has designs on the young maid. While the Prince is away, the King sends his vail to Imoinda, a sign that he wants to bed her. She reluctantly goes and staves off all his advances, professing her love for Oroonoko.
Upon his return, Oroonoko learns what happened to his love and finds her at the King's seraglio. they share a night together, but when the King finds out, he sells Imoinda as a slave, telling Oronooko that she died.
Despondent, Oroonoko is tricked by a British captain and becomes a slave. Taken to a new land, he accidently discovers his true love Imoinda and determines to escape the bonds of slavery no matter what it takes.
This story deals with true love and is probably one of the first novels to deal with the issue of slavery -- even though it wasn't a hotbed issue during the 1680's. The characters are very well-defined, either incredibly good or monstrous, even though they sometimes act more over-the-top or overly dramatic than normal. Oroonoko himself is even based upon a real prince that Behn had met from Surinam. It does take a bit to get used to the lingo and word usage of the 17th century, but I found myself seriously enjoying the story.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Beran on October 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
As the first novel written in the English language, Oroonoko holds a special place in our heritage of literature. That it was written by a woman is an even greater accomplishment. The story follows the stream of consciousness of its author, and often skips around in time. There was no editor for this hand written novel, and to a modern audience that can be confusing. Oroonoko is not a tidy book, but it is an amazing book.
Oroonoko is a true romance. The slave-prince, Oroonoko, is a hero, and his main quest is to find the love of his life, Imoinda. After many adventures on his own continent, Oroonoko is swept away to the Caribbean where he is miraculously reunited with Imoinda. From there he continues his nearly unstoppable heroism: he fights immortal tigers, leads an army of slaves against the slavery he sent them into, and faces everything that comes his way with unwavering bravery. The romantic notions of the young narrator further elevate Oroonoko into the status of a man above men; a form of renaissance superhero.
While many claim that the book is distinctly anti-slavery, the true feelings of the narrator and the times are difficult to unravel. They are certainly against the enslavement of this "young Mars" and his "beautiful black Venus" (Behn) but as for the rest of the slaves... Well, you be the judge.
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