- Recent Articles*
Gammanpila, S. S. "'Its Only Test is in Performance': Aphra Behn and the Modern London Stage," Women's Writing, 23.3 (2016), 298–311.
Behn's style of drama has presented twenty-first-century readers with some problems of understanding—the words, the situations, the politics, the history—and those staging her plays can meet with displeasure from sharp critics. Gammanpila examines a broad range of productions from the 1980s through 2005 by wellknown theaters and casts as well as by small companies, often performed in warehouses or pubs. She impressively examines many reviews, revealing that most critics failed to understand what Behn was trying to do. Gammanpila's article valuably surveys Behn's plays produced not just in London but around England. Unfortunately, a large number of productions are identified and then written off in one sentence, usually one vaguely summarizing the critique. Thus if one critic observes that the cast of a particular Rover lacks a certain "verbal command," the reader never learns the meaning of "verbal command." If another critic suggests that "It would be good, however, to see a production of one of Behn's plays that subverts seventeenthcentury theatrical and social conventions, rather than playing to it," we are never told what a subversion of a subversive play would look like. (Behn's plays already are intensely subversive in their politics, their gendered confrontations, their mockery of the rising moneyed middle class, and the commodification and objectification of women.) However, for anyone looking for an overview of theatrical reviews and thinking about staging a Behn play, this essay is a good start.
Ha, Inhye. "Cosmic Blindness, Comic Blindness: The Lunar Imagination and Women's Place in Aphra Behn's Emperor of the Moon," English Language and Literature (Yŏngŏ Yŏngmunhak), 62.3 (2016), 423–440.
Ha's simple and defendable thesis, that Behn's Emperor of the Moon refocuses the audience's attention to earth and therein to "a woman's place circumscribed by patriarchal order," has been addressed recently by Paula Backscheider and by Al Coppola. (This essay also seeks to explore the spatial importance of Baliardo's house, Scaramouch's apothecary shop, and the [End Page 145] connection between moon and earth.) While nothing much is said about the house or the lunary and sublunary interconnections, Ha presents Scaramouch's fake apothecary shop in III.2 as emblematic of chemical and pharmaceutical explorations, referencing a study of an eighteenth-century German apothecary to support this position. Yet this scene devolves into twisted alchemical terms and absurd mock-Latin references to excrement, and ultimately there is nothing scientific about Scaramouch's theatrically painted bottles and shelves.
The essay hoped to explore three spaces to show the subversion of the lunar festival and to "glimpse a moment of women's liberation," but loses its way.
Hargrave, Jocelyn. "Aphra Behn: Cultural Translator and Editorial Intermediary," Cerœ: An Australasian Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 4 (2017), 1–31.
Setting out to discuss Behn as "cultural translator and editorial intermediary," Hargrave begins with La Malinche as a cultural translator. This confuses, as La Malinche is often suggested as a model in Oroonoko for Byam's Native American mistress, who saves Byam's life after he is wounded in the battle between slaves and colonists. La Malinche is not again mentioned in the article.
The essay addresses cultural translation by comparing Jean-Baptiste de Brilhac's original novel Agnes de Castro with English translations by Peter Bellon and by Aphra Behn, both published in May 1688. However, after comparing five short quotations from both translations to the original, Hargrave instead examines Behn's use of italic and Roman fonts and of punctuation, quotation marks, and commas. Anyone grappling with the original printed pages of Behn's works knows their erratic condition. Editors have struggled with errant commas, unclosed parentheticals, colons in place of full stops, but with no foul papers we have no idea what Behn sent to the printer. An argument for cultural translation or editorial mediation based...