Love-letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister

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Penguin Books, 1996 - Fiction - 473 pages
With Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister, Aphra Behn, a leading Restoration dramatist, produced what is arguably the first long novel in English. Her witty, racy roman a' clef in three volumes is set in the tumultuous years surrounding the death of Charles II in 1685. A heady mix of eroticism, sex and politics, it concentrates on a sensational aristocratic scandal of the day, the seduction of Henrietta Berkeley by her sister's husband Lord Grey, a notorious libertine, rebel and intimate of King Charles's son, the Duke of Monmouth. 'Love-Letters depicts the desire for erotic domination at the heart of aristocratic Restoration culture - possibly of any culture, ' writes Janet Todd in her Introduction. As the novel unfolds, the innocence of Behn's young protagonist Silvia, evident in the sincerity and passion of her love-letters, is undermined; seduction is followed by disillusionment, and Silvia transforms herself into a female rake, bent on conquest rather than love. Portraying a world in which individual appetite rules and all authority is in doubt, Love-Letters brilliantly dramatizes the perverse and anarchic nature of desire.

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User Review  - Smiler69 - LibraryThing

I really enjoyed this 17th century roman clef which may have inspired Les Liaisons Dangereuses a century later, one of my all-time favourite classic novels with people behaving very badly indeed ... Read full review


To Thomas Condon Esq
The Argument
To Lemuel Kingdon Esq

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About the author (1996)

Aphra Behn is often considered the first Englishwoman to support herself as a writer. She was unquestionably the leading woman playwright of the Restoration period. Behn is also notable for her poetry and fiction. While still in her twenties, she traveled with her family to Surinam, in South America, where she witnessed a slave insurrection, much like the rebellion that figures prominently in her novel Oroonoko (1688), a work that introduced the character of the noble savage. Behn was well connected at court and for a brief time was sent to Antwerp as a spy. Around 1670, with the help of John Dryden, she established a career in the theater, and, during the following two decades, rarely was her work absent from the London stage. Among the comedies that bear the special stamp of her libertine, feminist, and Tory political views are The Dutch Lover (1673), The Feign'd Curtezans (1679), and her best-known works, The Rover (1677) and The Rover, Part II (1681). Readers seeking an introduction to the skill and sensibility of Aphra Behn will do well to look into her lyric poetry, which is often represented in recent anthologies of women writers.

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