Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe


Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe


  • Intro

    Often hailed as the first English novel, Robinson Crusoe has a story that will be familiar to many: that of the sailor Crusoe, who finds himself shipwrecked on a remote island and must carve an existence for himself out of the few resources that are available to him. Its author, Daniel Defoe, based his tale on the experiences of the traveller Alexander Selkirk, who spent four years marooned on the Pacific island of Juan Fernandez in the early eighteenth century. The adventures of Crusoe – his struggle to cultivate the land, his encounters with cannibals and mutineers, and his friendship with Man Friday – were hugely popular when the novel was first published, and sparked a vast number of spinoffs and translations.


    While it can be read as a simple adventure story, Robinson Crusoe also has a wider resonance: its themes of self-reliance and hard work have been seen as an embodiment of the Protestant work ethic, and Crusoe can be viewed as the archetypal colonist.

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