Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Rover

Ailz is writing an essay on Aphra Behn's The Rover.

I suffer alongside.

Aphra Behn was the first Englishwoman to earn her living as a writer. She's a hero, no doubt about it.

But the Rover is a problematic text. It's a comedy about a group of Englishmen behaving badly in Naples in the 1650s. It's as blokey as all hell and it climaxes with a couple of scenes of attempted rape.

Ho ho ho.

One guy in one of Ailz's discussion groups suggests it should be played as if it were the Benny Hill Show.

Perhaps, but most of us these days don't find Benny all that funny either.

It's a play without heart. I tell myself that Behn's England of the 1670s was a society brutalised by the experience of civil war followed by Puritan theocracy- a society in post-traumatic shock. This makes the play easier to understand, but not to like.

It's elbowed its way into the canon because a woman wrote it (there are better Restoration plays) but there's nothing feminist about it.
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