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The Secret Life of Aphra Behn Kindle Edition
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Todd had done a masterful job of mining the sources that we have and has been rummaging around the archives to offer the fullest portrait to date of Behn as both woman and writer. Attentive to her various liaisons, and studiously refusing to romanticize her femininity, this embraces the complexities of Behn: while refusing to be confined to a conventional female role, she believed in hereditary monarchy, the divine right of kings, and had little time for ideas of democracy or a parliamentary constitution.
Todd inevitably draws on Behn's writings but not in any simple linear fashion. Instead she draws out Behn's concerns with sexual and gender politics, and the way she uses humour and satire to articulate her agenda without compromising her essential need to entertain not least because, unlike Rochester, for example, she had neither money nor social status outside of her profession as author.
So a complicated woman - and a scholarly biography which does her justice.
She (Woolf) then examines the lives of some successful writers such Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, and Rebecca West. All these people did have the means to survive and just as important the encouragement to write. Aphra Behn was exceptional in that she had to fight for her success and recognition in writing plays and having them staged. She was friendly with Nell Gwynn and was prepared to go to the same lengths as Nell herself, to lift herself out of the gutter. Need we say more! She was no socialist. She believed it was every man/woman for him/her self. While she believed in equal pay for equal work, I doubt whether she would have joined a feminist movement. She was a reactionary in the sense that she thought that the King (Charles 2nd) had a divine right to rule.
I said at the beginning that this author's book is a lengthy work of scholarship, so that after the introduction, I took the easy way out and looked for a summary in Wikipedia. So if you want to find just the essential facts of her life I suggest you do the same! However I may well return to Janet's work later.
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