Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

November 7, 2011 at 20:16 | Posted in books | 1 Comment
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I recently finished reading Defoe’s classic ‘Robinson Crusoe’. This is the first book I have ever read in its entirety in e-book form; I read about half on an iPad, and half on my phone. This was in part to see how it felt reading on a screen, and in part just convenience; reading using my phone was something I could do whilst rocking Baby Chillikebab II to sleep.

For the first part of the book, I really got quite irritated with the character of Crusoe; he is far from sympathetic. He vacillates between endless hand-wringing about his inadequacies and pompous expositions of his prowess.

Still, once you get into the book a bit more it does start to rattle along; it is quite an adventure story that does prompt you to keep turning the (virtual) pages; however irritated I got with it still wanted to see what happened next.

Of course, it reflects eighteenth century sensitivities; a time of imperialism, colonialism and slavery. There is undoubted racism in the book; both in the way the native cannibalistic ‘savages’ are portrayed, and also with regards to the Spaniard Popists. However, there are quite significant passages where Crusoe reflects if there is a need for God, the positive character of some Catholics compared to English brigands and even wonders about his right to judge the actions of the ‘savages’, given that their actions come from a wholly alien value set that exists within its own moral framework. It actually comes across as if Defoe could be planting seeds in his readers minds on these issues and asking them to think in a different way, even though in the end conventional order is maintained with the primacy of God and the Englishman re-established. I daresay greater minds than mind have pondered whether Defoe’s intended message is in those heretical passages, or whether they are just there to shock and titillate the reader before a comforting re-assertion of the natural order.

The book ends quite abruptly; abruptly enough that I also downloaded ‘More Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’, in order to find out what happened next…

 

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  1. I also read Robinson Crusoe in childhood. I really liked this book! I read it in the Russian language. I like how the transformed nature of Robinson at the end of this story.


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