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The Apology at the beginning of this edition is worthwhile, and the notes are more complete and useful than in the Gutenberg edition, though the most recent editor's grammatical corrections are oddly nit-picky and out-of-place.
Also, check out page 130.
Hard to believe that there was a time when Robinson Crusoe wasn't deeply embedded in the western pysche. As I sit here on my couch, it's easy to come up with a dozen contemporary reference points: Lost, that shitty Tom Hanks movie...um... well you get the idea. Two contemporary reference points. Like Moll Flanders, Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe as a "biography", and like Flanders, people believed it. In fact, for many it is the character, not the author that people know and remember.
Regardless, Crusoe is an important precursor to the novel and after reading the book, its easy to see why. Defoe's protagionist is recognizable as a modern hero. Before I started Crusoe I had the vague idea that the book would start and end with him marooned on a desert island. Not so. Crusoe starts out as a young lad in the UK. He wants to go to see, his dad tells him to stay home. He goes anyways. He hooks up with some Portugese traders, gets captured by a Moorish pirate, escapes, is rescued off the coast of Africa, ends up in Brazil, starts a plantation, goes on an expedition to capture slaves(!) AND THEN he gets shipwrecked.
So. He's on the island, and he builds his own little world. The meat of the book alternates between his explaining his various innovations (builds a goat pen, farms some rice, builds a house) and making exhortations to god about his miserable fate/how lucky his is not to be dead.) This goes on for roughly 24 years(only 150 pages of text, tho.) Meanwhile I'm thinking, "Didn't he have a sidekick? Friday? Isn't Friday in this book?"
And then- voila- Friday shows up- Crusoe rescues him from some Carribean cannibals- and from there Crusoe's solitude is broken. Despite the archaic spelling/grammar & syntax Crusoe is a quick, easy read. It's almost like reading some kind of literary archetype- a kind of narrative that lies at the center of who we are as modern individuals.
I think individualism is at the center of Robinson Crusoe. Crusoe's solitude is an early example of an internal, subjective narrative. We all live in Crusoe's world now, but it's easy to see why it was such a smash in 1719- it must have spoken deeply to the rise in individualism that coincided with with the rise of other aspects of modernity in the 18th century.
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A Tale of a Tub. Written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind. to Which ...
No preview available - 2018