restricted access “Frightful Spectacles of a Mangled King”: Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko and Narration Through Theater

My paper studies the relationship of Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko to theater. I demonstrate that Behn’s novella is structured as a series of successive performances observed and responded to by diverse audiences. It is by imitating the interactions between the actors and the spectators of a play that Oroonoko can successfully combine the tragedy central to its plot with a broad exploration of cultural alterity and colonial politics. Since Oroonoko is often regarded as a precursor of the novel, this observation is of wider significance for our understanding of the origins and development of this genre.