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Oroonoko

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2.98  ·  Rating details ·  8,082 ratings  ·  538 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 30th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1688)
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Bill  Kerwin

A 17th century precursor to the novel, "Oronooko" condemns slavery not so much for its intrinsic evil but because it can oppress a man of true nobility--a man like the African prince Oronooko.

It is well written, moves briskly, and provides a fascinating contemporary glimpse not only of the slave trade but of the indigenous inhabitants of South America as well.
Rowena
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I quite liked this book and would have probably given it a 5 had it not been for the racist depictions in the book. Behn depicts the protagonist, Oroonoko, as being extremely regal and handsome because of his European nose and straight hair, among other things. I guess since the book was written in the 17th Century, racism and ignorance about Africa and black people was to be expected. Apart from that, the story was pretty good, a tragic love story. The descriptions of Surinam were also beautifu ...more
Jan-Maat
Perhaps the perfect thing to read after Kafka's The Trial, I found this discomforting and curious by turns, the author and the story both are slippery, the boundaries between reportage, myth and fiction unclear and maybe unimportant (in the finest traditions of fiction).

Aphra Behn herself is a mysterious person, presumed to have been born in Kent, maybe Canterbury, it is debated who her parents were though it is a strong probability that she had some. She spent sometime in Suriname, a Dutch colo
...more
Fabian
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I LOVED: that the love story is Vivid & the plot is Alive. But all this matters not when placed on the other side of the spectrum where Misery is Aware and Dismemberment is the ultimate form of Destruction. I was left wowed.

A Must!
Aubrey
There's a quiz on this tomorrow that's likely to consist of 'Who was the main character?' and 'What was the climax?' and 'Name three unconnected plot points that demonstrate ______' (It's been a while since my last English Lit class and I'm totally making shit up), so I'll get my digressive What I Think About This Thing out of the way here. Honestly, it was a windfall that this was assigned as short things make me nervous and I end up putting off reading them for ages, so a "Hey sup have a novel ...more
Hadrian
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
It might be easy to dismiss this as a historical curio, but it's actually not too bad. This is a historical romance/tragedy about a captured king brought into slavery in English Suriname.

Behn's attitude toward slavery and monarchy is puzzling to us more modern readers. She's still an avowed pro-monarchist Tory, and it's as easy to interpret this as a pro-Stuart piece as an anti-slavery one. Well, humanizing some black people is a good start for the 17th century, I suppose.
Alex
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, rth-lifetime
Aphra Behn (AF-ra Ben) was a popular playwright and dabbly novelist in the late 1600s, part of the gap between Shakespeare and novels. Bawdy, free-thinking, perpetually broke, perversely royalist, and probably atheist, she fell badly out of favor in the next few centuries and is now making a tepid comeback - tepid because as much as we'd love to have a radical(ish) female protonovelist in the canon, Behn is only okay as a writer.

Oroonoko has a pretty good plot: the titular archetypal noble savag
...more
Maria Thomarey
Readaton2017 22/26 ενα βιβλιο που ο Πρωταγωνιστης του δεν ειναι λευκός


Τωρα εγω πρεπει να γράψω κριτική . Βρίσκομαι ομως σε μεγάλη αδυναμία . Οχι γιατι δε μου αρεσε το βιβλιο . Αυτο ηταν υπέροχο . Και το θεμα του δυνατό . . Ομως διαβάζοντας το εδραιώθηκε η πεποίθηση μου για τη " δυστηχια του πολιτισμού " οπως λεει ο Φρόυντ . Οσο ειμαστε πρωτόγονοι οι δεύτερες σκέψεις το ψέμα και ο υπολογισμός δεν ειναι...,, Μα τι γράφω ; ολα ειναι θεμα εξουσίας . Οι λευκοί δυτικοί κατέκτησαν και αποίκησαν τις χώρ
...more
Zaphirenia
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brace2018
Some books you read for what they have to give you and some books you read due to the circumstances under which they were written.

This is a story by Aphra Behn, a woman who lived and wrote during the Restoration in England. Behn was one of the first women to write in order to make ends meet, something not very common in the 17th century. In the early 20th century she was made more popular when Virginia Woolf stated that "all women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn,
...more
Katherine Lika
Oroonoko is a complicated novel for me to rate.

I think Virginia Woolf was correct in stating that Aphra Behn's career as a whole was more important than any particular work, but I suppose I still have to rate the novella as it stands. I will start by saying that it's historical context seems to be extremely important in understanding before reading it, and for a few reasons. First, Aphra Behn is considered to be the first woman to make a career for herself* (and without a pseudonym!) from writin
...more
Adira
I can sum up my general feelings about this book in a well known quote by Maya Angelou:

"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."

Oroonoko really could've avoided half of his misfortune if he had learned this principle after he was abducted into slavery by someone he considered a friend. However, he decided he was going to repeatedly try to apply his African moral system into his new surroundings and go by the "honor system" taking everybody at their word. No matter how man
...more
L
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: quartered
Aphra Behn's Oroonoko is theorized in style and format to possibly be one of the first novels in English, connecting the worlds of Europe, Africa, and America in a tale that is common in plot but uncommon in character. Written by the so-called "bad girl" of her time, Behn's novel explores firs the foreign world of Coramantien and its royalty. The title character of the Royal Prince then finds himself with soldiers and war captains with the natives of Surinam, and then with its colonists. Separat ...more
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
This book got off to a rather dull, though interesting beginning, but improved as I continued to read.

The author was ahead of her time in more ways than one.
Peter
A book more for historians then the usual novel readers some interesting parts but ultimately dull.

Only giving this two stars, why? so obsessed with letting everyone know it's a woman writer, which is completely unnecessary. It's like having an author named David and saying he's a man writer! Subsequently, in the need to state this they have spelt the authors last name as Benn instead of Behn. They need to pay attention to what needs to be put on the back cover rather than worrying about "we mus
...more
kaelan
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is important to realize that at the time Oroonoko was written, our modern concept of the novel simply didn't exist. This perhaps excuses several of the more glaring 'problems' with this work.

I mean: yes, it's a very uneven piece of literature—despite an absence of chapter breaks (perhaps they haven’t been invented yet?), the text fluctuates wildly between tedious exposition (sadly, this applies to the entire first half of the text), exhilarating proto-travel lit (Behn was a seasoned traveler
...more
Rosemary
Nov 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
An odd book. Behn's view seems to be that it's OK for people to be enslaved as a result of war (as they were in all races and cultures), but not to be traded and exported. Also that it's wrong to enslave a prince of any tribe, race or culture (they would usually have been ransomed) but OK for the common people. Prince Oroonoko therefore has her sympathy and even support to escape, if he can make it.

The story might be criticized as racist and in some ways it is - e.g. the 'beautiful' and 'noble'
...more
Vaishali
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
And the debate about Oroonoko goes on. It's true that the authenticity of locations is suspect (tigers in Surinam?), and that intercultural relationships form sugary caricatures. However Behn redeems herself with the mutiny scene (see below) and the punishment scene. If Behn were a cook, she'd make a meal not to feed you, but display her spices: royalty, harem intrigue, true love, exotic locales, and murder. More is done with far less ingredients in, say, Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Oroonoko/Caesar's
...more
Sarah
Wow, this is one of the most uncomfortable pieces of work I've come across in months. I mean this in the best way.

First and foremost, Oroonoko is full of problematic language concerning race, but I think this really has to do with the time Behn was living in. She really tries to be progressive in her depiction of Oroonoko himself and his beloved Imoinda, but 18th-century treatment of language is naturally different than what we are used to now. So while this fact does prevent me from giving thi
...more
Liam
Oct 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
( 1.5 STARS )

Incredible story but I feel like the narrative made it a really slow read and therefore I couldn't enjoy it as much as I probably would have done if it was written more like a novel or if I watched it as a film.
Amber Tucker
Dec 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Meh
Well, that was... not really worth it.

A little exaggeration on my part, I suppose. It's kind of tedious and the ending? It's tragically significant, but also, I found, needlessly gory and yet ostensibly titillating at the same bloody (that's not just an expletive) time. And, needless to say, imperialism and racism are written all over it – unless you try to read between the lines, which can be done to some extent, and which I've tried to do. I don't want to dismiss the whole thing right off.

St
...more
Mounim Kamel
May 05, 2015 rated it it was ok

It is a story of an African prince and his beloved wife Imoinda, who are captured by the British and brought to Surinam as slaves.

Because of Oroonoko’s high social status as a former prince, superior education, and spectacular physical appearance, Oroonoko is never sent to work. He was asking for his freedom over and over while they feed him with lies, Oroonoko realizes he will never be free…

I don’t want to say more, all i can say is that i had mixed feeling for the book and the character since
...more
Kathleen
From the first professional woman writer, published in 1688, this is a story about the enslaved grandson of an African King. We are treated to numerous descriptions of his beauty, and the limitlessness of true love, yet not spared the details of his torturous life or gruesome end.

I have now obeyed Virginia Woolf’s famous directive to women to “let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.” I was pleased that, while this story reflect
...more
Duane
This is not a great novel, but it does have it's literary significance. Aphra Behn (1640-1689), is considered the first female English novelist. And this novel provides a rather dark look at English colonization in the 17th century. The story is about Oroonoko, a Royal African prince, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South American country of Surinam. A sad and tragic tale as most slave stories are. Published in 1688.
Melissa
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Although labeled Historical Fiction by most, this tale of a noble prince of Africa, his tragic love story, and the ignoble realities of slavery read much more like a fictional accounting of people and places the narrator knew, with many of the “characters” existing in that place and time and contemporaries of the author, with perhaps some license given to the noble savage narrative of the story. But fiction or not, pulled from pieces of reality or completely imagined, the inhumanity of slavery a ...more
Kelly ...
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Published in 1688... published in 1688... published in 1688. This was a chant in my head as I tried to get through this novel. I did not enjoy it at all. I found it full of racism (for example: Oronooko was considered handsome because he had European features!) and the prose was dull. I also did not find the characters particularly well-developed.
Pip
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I listened to a LibraVox recording, which was beautifully read. I therefore found the story easy to follow, if somewhat dispassionately related, considering the subject matter. I found it absolutely fascinating that this was published in 1688, in England, by a woman. I suspect that Behn saw similar events herself, from the vivid descriptions of flora and fauna and of the lives of the local people in Surinam. Why I had not known about Aphra Behm prior to this astounds me. The story had quite a mo ...more
Kyo
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
Interesting story about slavery and its problems written by a woman in the 17th century, but in the end it didn't do a lot for me. The characters all seemed to be written with literary allusions instead of real characters: the personality of Oroonoko was constantly changing to what best fitted the story at that certain time. The storytelling got pretty tiresome too after a little while with just so many descriptions and not a lot of dialogue of actions just telling.

So, an interesting read but I
...more
Abby
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school
I had mixed feelings about this book.
There were so many interesting things about it, I hardly know where to begin.
It's a slave narrative, an adventure tale, a courtly romance, a biography, a travel narrative, a memoir, and a heroic tragedy. It's a strange conglomeration of sentiments: anti-slavery, royalist, feminist, with empathy to the undervalued and dehumanized. Behn touched on so many subjects - it gave me such a wonderful glimpse into her world.

I am familiar with this period of history,
...more
Wreade1872
So its kind of like 'Amistad' mixed with 'Braveheart' :) . Short tale of an african prince who finds himself on a slave plantation. Reminded me of a shakespearean tragedy at times too. Has the feel of non-fiction in parts, those odd inconsistencies which tend to denote real events.
Its narrative structure is unusual in that about half is from the title characters point of view and the rest from the authors.
While i thought it was fine until about half-way i was still expecting to give it 2 stars
...more
Paula W
Apr 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Significant for possibly being the first novel written (and by a woman, no less), I can't really say that I loved the book. There were parts I liked. There were parts I quite liked. And then this odd little narrative ended in a tragedy so grotesque that even Shakespeare wouldn't have put it into writing. Where's the alka seltzer?
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Aphra Behn was a prolific dramatist of the English Restoration and was one of the first English professional female writers. Her writing contributed to the amatory fiction genre of British literature. Along with Delarivier Manley and Eliza Haywood, she is sometimes referred to as part of "The fair triumvirate of wit."

In author Virginia Woolf's reckoning, Behn's total career is more important than
...more
“A poet is a painter in his way, he draws to the life, but in another kind; we draw the nobler part, the soul and the mind; the pictures of the pen shall outlast those of the pencil, and even worlds themselves.” 32 likes
“Where there is no novelty, there can be no curiosity.” 17 likes
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