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Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe

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Author: Daniel Defoe / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 01 June 2010 / Genre: Children's Comic Strips & Graphic Novels / Publisher: Campfire / Title: Robinson Crusoe / ISBN 13: 9788190696319 / ISBN 10: 8190696319

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      01.06.2009 11:30
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      This really is a fantastic novel that I would really recommend!

      Robinson Crusoe is a beautiful novel that was written by Daniel Defoe, it was first published in 1719. It was arguably the first novel to ever be published which is no suprise given the date! The book really is superbly written throughout and I found it a real pleasure to read. The novel is about 270 pages and contains an epilogue. Daniel Defoe is seen by many to be one of the most famous writers in English Literature and after reading this novel it is easy to see why; I would really recommend it.

      The novel is actually a fiction autobiography about the man named Robinson Crusoe. He is a man who is the sole survivor of a shipwreck just off Venesuila and he encounters many things across his journey before actually being rescued. He is stranded on an island that is no way near any ships and the island is completely unihabited. Robinson Crusoe can't stand it at first but he then manages to make this horrible island into a paradise of his own. He was stranded on this island for 24 years with out any company but he then one day rescued a prisoner and things change. The novel is supposedly based on facts and so is a fictional novel.

      I really found the plot line to be superb throughout the novel and I found it easy to follow. The novel is beautifully written and very well structured really adding to the excellence. If you like tropical island get away novels or films rather like "The lord of the flies" I would really recommend this novel. I hope this was useful and thank you very much for reading.

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      29.01.2009 16:08
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      A rewarding book,recommended for anyone interested in politics or economics

      Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, depicts an 18th century trader gripped by a wanderlust who finds himself shipwrecked on a tropical island where he is forced to cultivate hidden survival skills, re-evaluating his own values in the process. The story is told retrospectively by Crusoe and written in a style which is extremely dry and thorough, and much of it is very tedious to read through.

      Crusoe busies himself not just with the business of survival but with technological and economic advancement and the pursuit of luxury, all of which is documented exhaustively. The reader is subjected to endless painstaking descriptions of Crusoe's trial and error attempts to bake clay pots, breed goats and sow corn, interspersed with jaunts across the deserted island as Crusoe does his best to stave off loneliness and boredom. The often crushing monotony of his life is replicated very successfully, but is hardly riveting. Furthermore, Crusoe himself is not the most exciting of characters, and at times it feels like being trapped on an island with a middle aged accountant from Slough.

      Whilst I didn't enjoy the book much at the time, looking back I think this might be because I overlooked a lot of its deeper symbolism. The story is more interesting if viewed as an observation on western imperialism, colonialism and economic theory- Crusoe feels compelled to control every aspect of his environment, from the livestock to the fauna to the people. Rather than choosing to live an idyllic life in the Eden into which fate has placed him, Crusoe is only happy when he is altering his surroundings in the name of progress; extending and embellishing the enclave in which he lives, turning more and more land over to crops, hoarding wealth in the form of useless diamonds and obsessing in a paranoid manner over the strengthening of his elaborate defences against in the local natives. After rescuing Friday from death at the hands of his own people, Crusoe immediately establishes himself as his master, and insists that Friday learns to speak English, exposing a mentality of perceived cultural superiority, as if other cultures are there to be subdued and assimilated.

      Crusoe is also quite hard to sympathise with in that he moulds his religious ideals to fit around his own desires by employing circular logic, justifying the killing of natives when afraid of them by convincing himself that the natives are 'godless savages' and therefore can be killed legitimately by a Christian, before later deciding that they are mere 'helpless children' and therefore deserve his protection as poor unenlightened inferiors. God's will and the policy of the state can be subverted to serve the state's own best interests, it would seem. Defoe does exhibit some prescience however, having Crusoe eventually conclude that slavery and subordination are immoral as his affection towards Friday deepens.

      After eventually being rescued (hardly a spoiler- how else would his diaries have survived?), Crusoe settles down on a plantation in South America before undertaking a further adventure in Eastern Europe, though this addition feels very much like an afterthought.

      Robinson Crusoe is very rewarding and interesting when read as an observation on modern western political thought, and though hugely politically incorrect today, Defoe was of course writing at a time when slavery and the doctrine of manifest destiny were deemed widely acceptable. Whilst often slow-paced and dull, the book has a lot of depth and is worth the effort to read. Its enjoyable too, so long as you approach it with the right expectations, and I plan to read it again myself with that very point in mind.

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      11.11.2008 16:07
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      A classic that actually is a classic

      OK time for another review of one of the books that I have to study for my English degree. This time the book is Robinson Crusoe and despite the opinions of many other students I really enjoyed reading the book.

      Robinson Crusoe was written by Daniel Defoe and published in 1719. The book despite being written in his sixtieth year was Defoe's first novel and is quite often seen as the first English novel.

      Robinson Crusoe is a trader. His father is also a trader and he believes strongly in the middle-life and tries to impose this way of living on his son. Robinson however rejects this way of life viewing it as the boring road and chooses for himself a life at sea. Despite some initial problems at sea Robinson prospers somewhat in new lands and becomes a reasonably wealthy man. All this however is soon to be thrown into disrepute.

      On a voyage to gather ships for his plantation in Brazil, Robinson becomes shipwrecked and ultimately marooned on a remote desert island far from the civilisation he has come to know so well. It is here, stripped of goods and money that he must rely on his own resourcefulness. The only limits to his survival are those of his own knowledge and skills.

      Upon building his skills Robinson once again begins to prosper but this time in a completely different way, as on the island gold has no monetary value what so ever. Rescuing a man who he quickly calls Friday provides him with an element of companionship but Robinson's urge to rule over his island soon takes hold.

      Some people argue that Robinson Crusoe is an adventure story and this can easily be seen through the very nature of him being shipwrecked on the island and the trials he must overcome to ultimately survive. Other however argue that the story is more of a spiritual autobiography and once again this is also apparent in the novel, as throughout his time on the island Robinson learns to respect the power of nature and brings himself closer to God.

      I am of the opinion therefore that the book cannot be classified as either or and should be pitched more as a narrative in which the lead character adventures to find himself. I am led to this opinion due to the fact that Robinson must tackle many difficult situations to survive but not all of these situations are physical ones as just as many are psychological and test not only his physical strength but also the strength of his character and his want to succeed.

      To be perfectly honest I have no real idea why I enjoyed this story so much because in many places the story is rather sketchy and seems to simply be a list of items or events that are not tied together or even down into the story with any deal of consideration. I do however like this story and feel that it is one that even though you may find it tough reading at first is well worth persevering with.

      I can see however how some people find the novel very tough to read, as it can be very difficult to relate to due to the period it was written in. In the early 1700's England was a very religious country. One in which the majority of the population believed strongly in ideas of fate and the will of God. The belief that God would punish you for disobeying him was also one that had firm grounding. It is also important to note that during this period Britain was also building up it's colonial Empire and that imperialism was something that was frequently discussed.

      I mention these ideas simply because at times within the novel imperialistic and religious ideas crop up strongly and without understanding the context within which the novel was written it can be very difficult to understand the journey through which Robinson Crusoe is taking the reading.

      All in all however this is one classic that I would definitely recommend. To can be a little hard to get your teeth into at the start but is one that in my opinion is very rewarding when you have finished it, as ultimately is highlights how the very strength of the human spirit is enough to pull us through even the most difficult of times.

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        13.05.2007 23:12
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        the full Robinson Crusoe story

        Frankenstein‘s Monster, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, Tarzan, Robinson Crusoe et al have left the confines of the book covers and become icons of our cultural heritage. Robinson Crusoe is the most successful of the lot, I‘ve read that the novel is more widespread than the bible, it has been translated into 110 (!) languages.

        I know that you know the basic facts of the story and that there isn‘t the danger of my spoiling the plot for you - after all the novel is told in the first person and only a survivor can tell it - but have you actually read the original? The nearest I ever got was an abridged and simplified (language-wise) version for pupils, I‘ve always wanted to find out what the whole book contained and what had been omitted and I also wanted to learn why the story has had such a universal appeal.

        I bet you didn‘t know that Robinson‘s father was a German and his surname was Kreutznaer “but by the usual corruption of words in England we are now called, nay, we call ourselves, and write our name “Crusoe“. This was certainly a good idea of Defoe‘s (who, by the way, changed his name from Foe to Defoe), I‘m sure a Robinson Kreutznaer wouldn‘t have conquered the world!

        Robinson‘s father ‘designed him for the law‘, but the boy‘s only desire is to go to sea. He defies his father‘s warnings and runs away, during his first voyage he experiences such a horrible storm that he thinks he‘ll die, the captain tells him he shouldn‘t be a seafaring man. Yet Robinson is ashamed to go home and ventures out again. He‘s captured by pirates and made a prisoner in Sallee, ‘a port belonging to the Moors.‘ One day he and two servants, also Moors, go out in a small vessel to fish for the master, Robinson throws one of them overboard and escapes with the other.

        He‘s rescued by a Portuguese ship to whose captain he sells his boat and his faithful servant. He lands in Brazil where he eventually becomes a successful planter. He convinces his fellow planters that they should get Negroes from Africa as slaves to work on their farms. He tells them “. . . how easy it was to purchase upon the coast, for trifles (such as beads, toys, knives, scissors, hatchets, bits of glass, and the like) not only gold dust, guinea grains, elephants‘ teeth, etc., but Negroes for the service of Brazil, in great numbers.“

        It is on this voyage that Robinson’s ship is wrecked and he’s thrown onto the shore of an island as the sole survivor of the crew. He succeeds in retrieving many goods from the wreck and then sets out to create a shelter and provide for food. In my opinion it is what he *does* during the following 26 years that has made this fictitious character immortal (the abridged version for pupils contains only this part of the book).

        He begins to develop skills and talents he never used before and didn’t know he possessed, he becomes an architect, a carpenter, a knife grinder, an astronomer, a baker, a shipwright, a potter, a saddler, a farmer, a tailor, an umbrella-maker, and a clergyman. It’s understandable that being able to survive against all odds has universal appeal and watching Robinson recreate things we all know, use and take for granted arouses our sympathy. Karl Marx sees in him an example of the pre-capitalist man producing goods because they’re useful and producing only as much as is useful to him without seeking profit.

        Robinson has been seen as the true prototype of the British colonist, I’ve found a review on the net (no author’s name given) which stresses the Anglo-Saxon spirit he incorporates: “the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, the persistence, the slow yet efficient intelligence, the sexual apathy, the practical, well-balanced religiousness, the calculating taciturnity.”

        Robinson’s indifference to sex has struck me as rather odd, he’s 26 years old when he comes to the island, one could assume he’d miss female company to say the least. First I thought that the fact that Defoe wrote the novel when he was sixty years old was responsible for his fictitious character’s peculiarity, but no, he makes Robinson reflect on what he’s got and what he misses on the island and makes him think that indeed he does not miss women. When he’s back home he marries at the age of 56, we get to know about this at the very end of the story in one sentence “I married, and that not either to my disadvantage or dissatisfaction”. Conveniently(?), his wife dies a short time later.

        Another reviewer who sees Robinson as a budding capitalist interprets the insignificance of sex/women as a reflection of the nature of capitalism, which emphasizes individual self-interest, and sees personal as well as group relationships, and especially those based on sex as potential menaces to the individual’s rational pursuit of economic ends.

        I’m sure you’re waiting for Friday [who isn’t? :-)], he appears much later than I imagined, Robinson and Friday spend only three years together. He’s a cannibal taken to the island by a rival cannibal tribe to be slaughtered and eaten, he can escape and is saved by Robinson. At last Robinson has someone to talk to but not for a moment does he see Friday as a mate, he teaches him English and makes him call him master. Whenever he thinks of him it is in terms like ‘poor savage’, ‘poor wretched soul’ or ‘savage creature’, the White Man’s domination over native populations couldn’t be better demonstrated than in this relationship.

        Friday isn’t taught only English but also Christianity, Robinson discovered religion when he rescued also some bibles from the shipwreck. I must say that if I were asked what book I’d like to take with me to a lonely island, I’d also think of the bible (after the Encyclopaedia Britannica, though) because of the many stories which would keep me occupied for some time, but in Robinson’s case we get the full programme of religious education. He sees the hand of Providence in his fate and learns to accept whatever happens to him. Defoe’s piles it on really thick so that I went back to the introduction on Defoe’s biography which I had read cursorily, I remembered that he had had many different jobs, had he also been a preacher? No, he hadn’t, either he was really a devout Christian or he thought that his book would sell well if he filled it with sermons. On the other hand, one can’t imagine how Robinson could have stayed sane if he had quarrelled with his fate.

        One thing I can’t understand and I haven’t found an explanation for anywhere is why Defoe made Robinson stay on the island for so long. The sailor Alexander Selkirk whose story Defoe knew had stayed alone on an island for four years, when he was rescued he could hardly speak which is understandable. Why did Robinson have to stay on the island for 26 years? It doesn’t heighten the effect of the story but only makes it less probable in my opinion.

        I find the ending of the novel strange to say the least, not only concerning Robinson’s marriage, we follow him on some journeys, on one he encounters wolves in the Alps (?!) and learn about his wealth that has accumulated in Brazil, he visits *his colony* on the island again where he had allowed some Europeans to settle, back in Europe “beside other supplies, I sent them seven women, being such as I found proper for service, or for wives to such as would take them.” Women as supplies, I ask you! The sympathy I had felt for Robinson the castaway dwindled to zero when I read about Robinson back home again.

        All in all I found reading the original novel enlightening in a way I hadn’t imagined.

        --

        Penguin Popular Classics
        298 pages
        Cover price 2 GBP
        (first published in 1719)

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          31.01.2004 19:14
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          There are very few books I ever read more than once. Robinson Crusoe is one of these few. What is the story about? I know we should not give the end away, and I also believe we should not gvie too much of the plot away, but in the case of this book, there are some elements which are part of common every day knowledge, at least in Anglo-Saxon countries. Robinson has a bit of trouble while seafaring and is lucky to get somehow on the shore. There are no internet cafes, no 5 star hotels, and, in fact, after some strolling around the beach, it dawns on our fella that this is an island. Unable to think about exploiting the whole place and turn it into a luxury resort, Robinson prefers a different economic approach, that would have an influence on Marx works, and decide to grow purely what he needs for his life. Years pass, Robinson spends his time harvesting grapes, sun drying them, and other kind of agricultural jobs. We are never told how he satisfies his sexual needs, and, from what we are given to know, we are not even sure if he has any. Later, he will befriend one of the cannibals that from time to time come on shore to eat their victims, in fact it is one of these victims he befriends, to be more specific. He turns him into slave, pays no National Insurance, and allows this immigrant to stay on his island when his Visa expire, partly becaue Robinson self appoints himself in charge of the whole island and its Home Office too. Probably realizing that he would miss the first Football World cup to be held in about a couple of century, he finally decides to make an escape from the island. But there are dangers to overcome, the sea is infested by cannibals, and some of them did not appreciate that Robinson had previosuly slaughtered a fair number of them, then the sea is some time rough, and also, how would he adapt to civilization against? I will not give away the end of this book, but I can asusre you that there i
          s real suspance towards the end.

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            08.06.2001 17:27
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            In recent times, this classic children's text has been reconsidered in some surprising ways. I first read Robinson Crusoe when I was about ten (Understanding not all of it.)and re read it several years ago as part of my English literature degree. From my childhood, I remember a fairly harmles story about a bloks stuck on an island rearing goats, growing corn and trying to make pots. Oh, and there was man Friday. These days, Robinson Crusoe is regarded by academics as being a book about colonialism. After all, we have one English man becoming King of an island (which is clearly home to some other people.) Crusoe's treatment of Man Friday is troubling to a modern audience (or perhaps should be at any rate.) Firstly, it is clear that Friday (so named by Crusoe)must learn English - Crusoe makes no effort to discover any language Friday might have. Friday is instructed to call Crusoe master and treated much like a slave. These men are both outcasts on an island. They have idfferent languages and cultures, differnt skin colours. Both Crusoe and the text assume that the white man is the superior. It s also a story that really speaking has no women in it. More of that in a moment. Robinson Crusoe has attracted revisionary writing - for anyone who has not encountered this, it is a new genre in which modern writers retell old stories from a different perspective in order to cast new light on them. If you would like to challenge your ideas about Robinson Crusoe, I would recomend reading "Foe" by J.M. Cotzee (spelling uncertain)This is the tale of a woman who is cast up on a barren island where she finds a white man planting rocks and a black man who has had his tongue cot out. When the woman escapes from the island, she sells her tale to one Mr Foe - a book writer. WE know that there is no owman in Robinson crusoe, and this book suggests that the woman has been deliberatly cut out. It is a curious and disturbing read - wel
            l worth the effort though. Definatley something to follow up on Robinson Crusoe with. It's also about a tenth of the size!

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            31.10.2000 03:16

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            Robinson Crusoe is a tale that we all know. Defoe's story was once compulsory reading in schools. At least they tried to make us read it.Have you ever read it right through? The first thing that hit me was that it was long winded and it seemed to take far too long to get to the bit that I know as the story. The part that actually knew as the 'tale' of Robinson Crusoe is actually only a very small part of the book. The desert island and Man Friday are only a fraction of it. Defoes story is really about human endeavour and the triumph of the human spirit which rises up against adversity and wins through. If you haven't read this book from an adult perspective you might be suprised at what you find in it!

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            07.10.2000 21:54
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            Given that the book has been so aggressively bowdlerised as a kid's classic, actually reading 'Robinson Crusoe' is effectively discovering something new, and full of surprises (not all of them pleasant by any means). The first big surprise is how long Defoe actually takes to get to what we imagine is the story - Crusoe takes ages to be alone, and goes through quite a bit of gratuitous slave-trading before he is marooned. The large desert island sequence is one of Crusoe's many adventures herein. This is a book shot through with Defoe's trademark admiration for the human spirit, and human endeavour. But you have to bear in mind that Defoe once toured Britain and marvelled at how small children were able to earn a living, whereas today we might cringe at such a jolly spin on child labour. Equally, Crusoe views other human beings as perfectly suitable commodities, and some of the descriptions of 'savages' don't bear too much scrutiny either. Like 'Moll Flanders', Defoe's favourite technique is to just rain calamities down on his protagonist, and this at least ensures that book is readable, but you really need to bear in mind when the book was written before embarking on it.

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            21.08.2000 05:29
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            We all know the story of Robinson Crusoe - but have you actually read it? I read it for the first time in my life this year. I was astonished. The underlying idea, of survival against all the odds, is strong enough to motivate a fair number of spin-offs (Defoe wrote a couple himself), and even Desert Island Discs. When you consider that it is claimed by some as one of the first novels to be written in the English language and that it is nearly 300 years old, it is astonishingly fresh. The fact that I knew its story - even only in sketchy outline - did not at all detract from its power over me. I found myself quite gripped by Crusoe's heroic attempt to make bread! Sounds silly, but then read it and you will be surprised. Defoe, always the spy, spending a great deal of his life passing himself off as something other than what he really was, and obsessed with secrecy, is determined to pass of Crusoe as authentic - a fact that is disguised by the fact that it is now published as a novel under his name. There is no question that it is hugely plausible. It's full of unexpected implications - for colonialism, for what it means to be an individual, for what it takes to write a "realist" narrative, for religious belief (about which it is tantalisingly ambiguous). Crusoe himself is an extraordinary phenomenon - phlegmatic, dogged, businesslike, and utterly sexless. A great Irishman regarded Crusoe as the archetypal Englishman.

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          • Product Details

            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.