By Jane Spencer
Aphra Behn, now turning into famous as a huge recovery determine, is mainly major as an early instance of a profitable expert girl author. This booklet analyses her reception as a poet, a novelist, and a dramatist, demonstrating her far-reaching impact on eighteenth-century literature and at the formation of the English literary canon.
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Extra resources for Aphra Behn's Afterlife
Another aspect of Behn’s image, her libertinism, deserves consideration. Behn as love-poet was always more than a singer of soft verses. Her erotic writing was linked to the libertine philosophy which also strongly marked her public image. Like Rochester, whose work she admired and lavishly praised, Behn combined ideas of sexual liberty with a sceptical attitude towards religion. She chose to head Poems Upon Several Occasions with ‘The Golden Age’, a celebration of a mythical past of free love and free-thinking before kings, priests, or laws existed; the fact that it was an adaptation from a French original did not stop it being controversial.
The first edition went through three issues in , and by the third her name was on the title-page. Despite the criticisms of her use of Killigrew, the play was a great success on the stage, and gained Edward Phillips, Theatrum Poetarum, or a Compleat Collection of the Poets, Especially the most Eminent, of all Ages (London: Charles Smith, ), . Lust’s Dominion was attributed to Marlowe on its publication in but is more likely to be by a later anonymous writer imitating his style: see Todd’s introduction to Abdelazer in Works, v.
In her next letter, Astrea writes of her own adventures, both with the Vander Albert who appeared in the earlier memoirs, and his older kinsman Van Bruin. Both men are in love with Astrea, and Van Bruin’s absurd love-letters, with Astrea’s mocking replies, are inserted into the narrative. These letters seem to have been written in the s with an eye to capitalizing on Behn’s current reputation: Astrea’s jokes about Van Bruin’s attempted voyage for ‘the Island of Love’ would remind the readers of of the poetic Voyage to the Island of Love which had recently been reprinted in the second edition of Behn’s Poems Upon Several Occasions.
Aphra Behn's Afterlife by Jane Spencer