Introduction: Before Aphra Behn
THE SPANISH VOICE IN APHRA BEHN'S PLAYS AND NOVELS IS APPRECIated once the author and her work are placed in the historical background of Restoration England, the literary criticism of her time is seen influencing her creative writing, and the enormous influx of Spanish texts and, consequently, Spanish ideas are understood. Behn's treatment of Spanish literature is parallel to her development as a writer, and both are clarified through modern theories and studies on the novel and drama.
During the interregnum, Prince Charles lived in France but with his followers and friends traveled widely in the Netherlands and other European countries then partly occupied by Spain, and they must have seen Spanish plays of the siglo de oro. Later, they were welcomed by Philip TV of Spain; Philip was to support Charles's cause, and Charles and his Cavaliers were to aid Philip in the Franco-Spanish War. It is known that at the conferences the ambassadors were invited to see Spanish drama. The comedias of Lope Félix de Vega y Carpió and Pedro Calderón de la Barca, the court playwright, were very popular at the time. Besides, most exiled Englishmen surely had the opportunity to come into direct contact with the works of the already famous Miguel de Cervantes, Mateo Alemán, and Tirso de Molina. Thus, Spanish influences, even before the Restoration, abounded. For example, Thomas Killigrew adapted picaresque action to a theatrical piece in English that resulted in the long closet drama—never meant for the stage—Thomaso; or, The Wanderer. The main change Killigrew introduced in the picaresque is that Thomaso and his Cavalier friends are English soldiers of fortune, some of them serving in the Spanish army. Notwithstanding, Thomaso, the protagonist, is modeled after the Spanish pícaro and behaves like a promiscuous rake.
As soon as Charles II regained his throne in 1660, he reopened