Aphra Behn: Oroonoko, or the History of the Royal Slave

(2215 words)
  • Jennifer Donald (University of Glasgow)

The extended title of Aphra Behn's famous short story or novel, Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave, A True History, immediately indicates that the author intended the narrative to be understood as a factual account, a history, rather than a fiction. Behn positions herself as an “eye-witness” (9) to the majority of the events related in her narrative and provides an unimpeachable source for the remainder of her information, as she notes that “what I could not be witness of I received from the mouth of the chief actor in this history, the hero himself, who gave us the whole transactions of his youth” (9). Although Behn was undoubtedly influenced by the French romances of La Calprenède, Honoré d'Urfée and Mademoiselle de Scudèr…

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Donald, Jennifer. "Oroonoko, or the History of the Royal Slave". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 July 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=2995, accessed 04 July 2015.]