By Jane Spencer
Aphra Behn, now changing into famous as an important recovery determine, is principally major as an early instance of a winning specialist lady author. This ebook analyses her reception as a poet, a novelist, and a dramatist, demonstrating her far-reaching effect on eighteenth-century literature and at the formation of the English literary canon.
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Extra resources for Aphra Behn's Afterlife
01 Chapter 0646 30/8/00 12:33 pm Page 41 Pleasure and Poetry: The Behn Myth Whoever actually wrote these lines, Familiar Letters added to the myth of Behn the epistolary heroine. By the s, biographical dictionaries were becoming an important way of spreading a writer’s reputation. In appeared A General Dictionary, a translation from the French of Bayle’s Dictionary with new lives added. This is a scholarly compilation, including personal anecdotes derived from the actor John Bowman, drawing widely on printed sources, and using extensive footnotes.
The complex, by no means wholly commercially driven role of ‘professional man of letters’ was not only very new in Behn’s time: it was also, of course, of doubtful applicability to her. Her literary career can be seen in effect—and in her later years, I think, in conscious intention—as an experiment in whether there could be a professional woman of letters. It was as a playwright that Behn the author first came to public notice. Her early work was accepted by Thomas Betterton, thus beginning Behn’s long association with the Duke’s Company.
This view began to emerge in her lifetime, representing the narrowing-down of an originally much wider conception of her as a writer. It was Clara Reeve, The Progress of Romance (Colchester: W. Keymer, ) i. . ‘Memoirs on the Life of Mrs. Behn’, in The Histories and Novels Of the Late Ingenious Mrs. Behn (London: S. Briscoe, ), sig. Cv. I have reversed the italics in this quotation, and do so silently throughout the book when quoting works entirely or in large proportion printed in italics.
Aphra Behn's Afterlife by Jane Spencer
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