This book approaches the construction of literary authority and the literary canon during the 18th century through a study of the reception of the work of Aphra Behn. As one of the first professional writers of either sex in England, she participated in the redefinition of the author that attended the new literary market; and as the most prominent woman writer of the Restoration, she had an immense and complex significance for women writers in following generations. The 18th-century construction of Restoration writing in general, and Behn's in particular, as decadent and salacious, had profound effects on the tenor of that influence, and made her legacy to later female writers an uneasy one. Over the hundred years following her death, her image played an important, and very mixed, part in the process of the legitimation of the woman writer.
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