Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review: Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Book: Ooronoko by Aphra Behn
Genre: Classic Literature
Published: 1688
How I Got the Book: required for class

Synopsis (from 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 views of native peoples as being in "the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin." The novel also reveals Behn’s ambiguous attitude toward slavery: while she favored it as a means to strengthen England’s power, her powerful and moving work conveys its injustice and brutality.

My Thoughts: This may sound crazy but I really thought in the beginning of the book when Behn is describing Oroonoko and the king, I sincerely pictured Africans in tradition stereotypical royal clothing in a palace and all that jazz. Yet I found, through class discussions, that I was in the wrong picturing that. I liked my interpretation though...but anyway this was such a good story. The writing is a struggle to get through, perhaps that is why I was so confused in the beginning. I would love to read this as a modern adaptation. I love that women were trail blazers in slavery, child labor, equal rights even back in the 17th century. So many classes have proven this again and again. This story was pretty heartbreaking by the end however. Behn set out to prove a strong point and provided a strong anti-slavery agenda behind a well told story. Recommended to expand your reading horizons.

Characters: Oroonoko is admirable and well described. The secondary chracters are pretty standard.

Cover Art: I like this cover because it kind of fits my original interpreation of the society Oroonoko lived it.

Overall: ★★★★


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