or, The Royal Slave


(5 Reviews)
Oroonoko by Aphra Behn







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or, The Royal Slave


(5 Reviews)
I do not pretend, in giving you the history of this Royal Slave, to entertain my reader with adventures of a feigned 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.

Book Excerpt

had ever beheld, that lovely modesty with which she received him, that softness in her look and sighs, upon the melancholy occasion of this honor that was done by so great a man as Oroonoko, and a prince of whom she had heard such admirable things; the awfulness wherewith she received him, and the sweetness of her words and behavior while he staid, gained a perfect conquest over his fierce heart, and made him feel the victor could be subdued. So that having made his first compliments, and presented her an hundred and fifty slaves in fetters, he told her with his eyes that he was not insensible of her charms; while Imoinda, who wished for nothing more than so glorious a conquest, was pleased to believe she understood that silent language of new-born love; and, from that moment, put on all her additions to beauty.

The prince returned to court with quite another humor than before; and though he did not speak much of the fair Imoinda, he had the pleasure to hear all his followers speak of nothing but the

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Oroonoko was a prince of the African country Coramantien who secretly married his true love, and while he was away at war, she was selected by his grandfather, the king, as one of his wives. The lovers kept their secret as long as they could, but when they were discovered, the wife was sold as a slave. Oroonoko himself was later tricked into slavery and transported to Suriname and sold to an English plantation owner. But he didn't have the temperament to be a slave.

The Africans are noble characters. Some of the English are decent, others are criminals. The story is oddly written, possibly because it is so old (set and written in the 1600s,) but once the Prince reached South America the story sucked me in.
This book claims to be fact, but may be loosely based on various figures. It is also completely unrelated to Abolitionism because it was written long before slavery was questioned. It is more didactic in a sense of honour, anti-violence, and honesty. Yes, reads more like a Greek adventure. It is an important work, as a precursor to the modern novel, but although it is a slave narrative, not as an anti-slavery piece.
This was truly an interesting book. To me it was amazing that the topic of the treatment of slaves was tackled during that time period and even more amazing was it was written by a woman!! I do see why it made the "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die".
If you read the description in "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" and believe you will be reading something akin to historical fiction based on the slave trade and the treatment of slaves in Surinam in the 1600s --think again.

This reads far more like a tale of Greek Mythology than historical fiction.

So, if you can fully suspend your sense of reality and enjoy it for what it is, a simple mythic tale of good and evil....it's short and worthwhile

Otherwise, it's just too black and white on too many levels
If you are a very sensitive person, then this book is gruesome and depressing. If you are not too sensitive, then it may serve for history and a realization - if you don't already have it - that there have been, and still are, some very unchristian "Christians" out there - who are more cruel and barbaric than barbarians!