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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.
124 pages, with a reading time of ~2.0 hours (31,187 words), and first published in 1688. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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I do not pretend, in giving you the History of this ROYAL SLAVE, to entertain my Reader with the Adventures of a feign’d Hero, whose Life and Fortunes Fancy may manage at the Poet’s Pleasure; nor in relating the Truth, design to adorn it with any Accidents, but such as arrived in earnest to him: And it shall come simply into the World, recommended by its own proper Merits, and natural Intrigues; there being enough of Reality to support it, and to render it diverting, without the Addition of Invention.
I was myself an Eye-witness to a great Part of what you will find here set down; and what I could not be Witness of, I receiv’d from the Mouth of the chief Actor in this History, the Hero himself, who gave us the whole Transactions of his Youth: And I shall omit, for Brevity’s Sake, a thousand little Accidents of his Life, which, however pleasant to us, where History was scarce, and Adventures very rare, yet might prove tedious and heavy to my Reader, in a World where he finds Diversions for every Minute, new and strange. But we who were perfectly charm’d with the Character of this great Man, were curious to gather every Circumstance of his Life.
The Scene of the last Part of his Adventures lies in a Colony in America, called Surinam, in the West-Indies.