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Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe (original 1719; edition 1979)

by Daniel Defoe, Pierre (color woodcuts) Falke (Illustrator)

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14,903212131 (3.58)402
Title:Robinson Crusoe
Authors:Daniel Defoe
Other authors:Pierre (color woodcuts) Falke (Illustrator)
Info:The Franklin Library (1979), Edition: First Edition Thus; First Printing, Hardcover, 355 pages
Collections:Your library

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Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)


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English (193)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (5)  French (4)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (212)
Showing 1-5 of 193 (next | show all)
I was amazed when I read of Crusoe's conversion in this book. The children's illustrated classic that I had read as a child contained nothing of this (if I remember correctly). That part was very good. However, it seems as though he still maintains personal ethnic superiority throughout his and even after his return to civilization. Therefore, it probably would not be well accepted in its entirety in this modern society. ( )
  LeviDeatrick | Oct 6, 2016 |
As is usually the case with classic novels like this one, I enjoyed Robinson Crusoe more for the secondary details than for the main storyline, which for the most part played out as I expected it to. Some examples:

1) the initial decision made by young Robinson to leave his native England in search of adventure. He does so against the will of his father, a businessman, who presents an eminently rational argument for his sticking around. The father/rebellious son dynamic that plays out in the novel's opening pages seems to prefigure centuries of youthful anti-bourgeois rebellion on the part of successive generations of young people who insist on seeking adventure instead of the stability and prosperity that awaits them if they are only willing to accept the destiny imposed on them by their prosperous social class. Robinson Crusoe as the original modern/avant-garde rebel.

2) the fact that, before he's marooned on his island, he establishes himself as the part owner of a sugar plantation in Brazil. He knows, after all, how to be a diligent member of his emergent social class. Either instinctively or unconsciously I guess, but the point is, he's got his little fiefdom in Brazil to fall back on.

3) after he gets rescued and comes back to Europe, he's scared of sea travel so he sets off with Friday and a group of fellow travelers to cross the Pyrenees so that they can cross directly over from France to England. On their way, there is a crazy, extended bear-baiting episode where Friday insists on messing around with a bear to provoke some hearty laughs from his European fellow-travelers before killing the bear. Then, later on, there's a massive battle royale between the group of travelers and a few hundred hungry wolves. I was reading Robinson Crusoe in part to prepare for a reading group covering Jacques Derrida's The Beast and the Sovereign, so I'd been particularly attuned to both Robinson's relation with so-called "savages" as well as his relation to non-human animals. Needless to say, I didn't expect so much conflict between human and beast.

Besides these secondary points, I found the book to be entertaining and illuminating. I've read so much about Robinson and his adventures on the island that, now that I've actually taken the time to read the book for myself, I can retrospectively look back on my assumptions and re-formulate them in terms of Defoe's story.

In addition, I now have a better idea of how Robinson Crusoe fits into the history of literary realism. I know that Jorge Luis Borges complains about how Defoe is the one who first decides (or intuits) that it's a good idea to include extraneous details in the literary text, among other things to produce what Roland Barthes would famously call "reality effects" (that is, the stuff that's included in the text doesn't signify anything more than the fact that "this is real"). I always resisted Borges's critique (I like literary realism), but I now have a better idea of where he's coming from. There are a lot of sections of Defoe's novel that are pretty boring and tiring in their relatively meticulous exposition of Robinson's day-to-day existence, and I do see why one would want to "purify" literature of these elements that are of only secondary importance with regard to the unfolding of the novel's plot. We don't really need to know exactly how many pounds of grain Robinson harvested in his eighteenth year on the island, but it does help us feel like it's a real story. ( )
  msjohns615 | Aug 22, 2016 |
I have vague memories of reading a Classics Illustrated or other adapted version of this as a child. Whatever version that was, it was more entertaining. Beyond that value, this is one of the best examples I've encountered of what criticism of the canon is all about, viz., having a dismissive, patronizing attitude of anything not English or reflective of Defoe's values. ( )
  encephalical | Jun 13, 2016 |
I was very surprised by this book. First published in 1719, this is the first shipwrecked story, a prototype for those that followed. I had just finished reading The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe, and I did not enjoy that seafaring adventure. So, I wasn't looking forward to this one either. My bookclub meeting is coming....

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The story is much more complex than I guessed. Where do I begin? Well, the themes are complex. Robinson Crusoe muses on God's providence, His deliverance, His omniscience, His omnipotence and many other difficult topics.

You may know the flow of the story already, but basically a young man goes to sea against the sound advice and council of his parents. He is captured as a slave, runs away, starts a sugar plantation, and then is shipwrecked on a deserted island. All of his shipmates drown, and he alone is saved. His survival story is fascinating and interspersed with Robinson's philosophical musings and his emotional grappling of the situation. Why was he saved when everyone else perished? How come he is in this desolate situation? As in this quote:

"I was very pensive upon the subject of my present condition, when reason as it were expostulated with me t'other way, thus: Well, you are in a desolate condition, 'tis true, but pray remember, Where are the ten? Why were not they sav'd and you lost? Why were you singled out? Is it better to be here or there, and then I pointed to the sea? All evils are to be consider'd with the good that is in them, and with what worse attends them."

He thinks long and hard about repentance and what it means, and we see a Christian conversion story right in the middle of his darkest moments. Robinson Crusoe was able to make a raft and swim to the shipwrecked boat to get supplies. He finds a Bible and reads it daily. He thanks God and works to build up a food supply.

More than halfway through the book, he finds out that a nearby cannibalistic tribe travels to "his" island to murder and eat people. Here's where things get a little uncomfortable for us in the 21st century. Imperialism rears its head. Robinson Crusoe believes the island is his and he is the king.

"My island was now peopled, and I thought myself very rich in subjects; and it was a merry reflection which I frequently made, how like a king I look'd. First of all, the whole country was my own meer property; so that I had an undoubted right of dominion. Secondly, my people were perfectly subjected: I was absolute lord and law-giver."

He also treats his subjects as inferiors and makes them swear to be his subjects/slaves. Slavery is no where questioned which seems odd given that Robinson Crusoe was a slave at the beginning of the book.

The study of this novel could go fascinatingly deep. There is a large list of suggested further reading in my introduction. One book from University of Chicago Press discusses Robinson Crusoe as part of Puritan tradition through Bunyan and Milton; another has a discussion of Robinson Crusoe and European imperialism. Both of those topics would be an excellent study.
  heidip | Jun 8, 2016 |
What I learned from this book is that not every book that is called a classic earns that title.If this hadn't been on my Feb bookshelf then I wouldn't have finished it.

I know this is regarded as the first english language novel but that doesn't excuse the fact that it is badly written.

Robinson Crusoe is a complete and utter idiot, he never learns from his mistakes and never takes advice from anybody. Maybe it's just me but if the very first ship you are on sinks perhaps you should take it as a sign, but not him off he goes again and ends up as a slave. He escapes and is rescued by a too good to be true captain and makes a good life for himself in Brazil, but even then that is not enough. So when some of his friends decide they want more slaves he is selected to make the trip to buy them and of course being Robinson the ship is struck by a hurricane while in the Carribean. Sounds bad so far doesn't it and it only gets worse.

I know that I shouldn't complain about the attitude towards slavery in the book as it was a different time period and it is historically accurate but I just found it really hard to stomach, in fact it made me wish that Friday had been a cannibal.

I have read this book before but I was about ten and you don't really pick up on the racism and all the other things that are wrong with this book at that age. Then you just think about the adventure of being on a desert island. The reason I read this again is because a few weeks ago I was having dinner with my Mum and she was watching what I thought was I very bad adaptation. Turns out it was the source material that was the problem and based on that there was no way you could ever make a good version. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 193 (next | show all)
Defoe Complicates Ethics in Early Novels: Developing Moral Tolerance in 18th C. London

» Add other authors (140 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Defoe, Danielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abbott, Elenore PlaistedIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anthony, NigelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
AviForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Becker, May LambertonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bown, DerickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Casaletto, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duvoisin, RogerIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Finnemore, J.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hadden, J. CuthbertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herder, RonaldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keith, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kredel, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pocock, Guy N.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rowlands, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swados, HarveyAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Edward ArthurIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winter, MiloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolf, VirginiaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyeth, N.C.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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"I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull: he got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but, by the usual corruption of words in England, we are now called, nay, we call ourselves, and write our name Crusoe, and so my companions always called me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is a retelling by James Baldwin of Robinson Crusoe, not the original book.
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Robinson Crusoe, the highly acclaimed novel by Daniel Defoe, is a literary classic which is enjoyed by readers of all ages. The story deals with the life of a middle-class Englishman who forsakes convention to pursue his ambition to go to sea. After surviving capture by Turkish pirates and escaping from enslavement, he embarks on his pivotal voyage. The young Crusoe is shipwrecked on an island and for twenty-four years is a solitary castaway. Emerging from the background of a romantic adventure story is Defoe's exposition on isolation, self-reliance and companionship. Since 1719 this book has enticed an audience who, like Crusoe, long to be free from the constrictions of society.
Robinson Crusoe was interested in adventures and he wanted to spend his life on the adventure. One day one of his friends asked him if he wants to be sail...and then his story will begin.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375757325, Paperback)

Daniel Defoe relates the tale of an English sailor marooned on a desert island for nearly three decades. An ordinary man struggling to survive in extraordinary circumstances, Robinson Crusoe wrestles with fate and the nature of God. This edition features maps.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:36 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

On a desolate tropical island, a shipwrecked British seaman tries to master his hostile environment and remain civilized.

(summary from another edition)

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