Elaine Campbell


Aphra Behn's relatively obscure literary reputation is not so much a result of the vagaries of fate as it is the product of an effort to discredit her literary career at a time when considerable interest in Behn's canon was exhibited in England and in the United States. It is the purpose of this essay to review what I call the Behn-Bernbaum case in order to demonstrate that the primary ground upon which the campaign against Behn rested is untrue. It has not required very strenuous research to compare the texts of Behn's Oroonoko with George Warren's An Impartial Description of Surinam in order to discover the lack of similarity between the two pieces;' however, twentieth-century editors have preferred to accept without question Ernest Bernbaum's accusation that Behn had 'stolen' her Oroonoko materials from Warren rather than to suspect the querulous tones in which Bernbaum's judgments against Behn were issued.



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