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Aphra Behn's Afterlife$
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Jane Spencer

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198184942

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184942.001.0001

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Pleasure and Poetry: The Behn Myth

Pleasure and Poetry: The Behn Myth

Chapter:
(p.18) (p.19) 1 Pleasure and Poetry: The Behn Myth
Source:
Aphra Behn's Afterlife
Author(s):

Jane Spencer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184942.003.0002

This chapter considers three aspects of the making of Aphra Behn's reputation: discussions of her within her lifetime; the growth of Behn biography in the years following her death; and the reception of Behn's verse. What unites these different parts of her story is the growth of a myth about Behn, which both drew on received notions of the relationship between a female writer and her work, and set the tone for the reception of later women writers. The myth is that Behn's writing reflects a life pre-eminently concerned with sexual love. The image of Behn which was to become dominant in the 18th century was that of a woman for whom (sexual) pleasure and poetry were intermingled. This view began to emerge in her lifetime, representing the narrowing-down of an originally much wider conception of her as a writer.

Keywords:   Aphra Behn, biography, death, myth, female, writer, women, pleasure, poetry

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