Author: Daniel Defoe
Title: Robinson Crusoe
Time: ca. 1650-1687
Destination: Brazil, the Caribbean
Length: almost 40 years
The original Robinsonade
The story: This is not a travelogue, it’s a novel. DD is a British writer in the early 1700s who comes across a fragmentary account of a sailor who got left on an island in the Atlantic. DD, looking for inspiration, takes these bits and builds a novel around them. He calls the main character „Robinson Crusoe“, makes him strand on a lonely island, describes his sufferings and the way he eventually manages to live quite comfortably, makes him experience awesome adventures and struggles, eventually allowing him to return to England after many decades. The book was a huge success right after it came out, and it even spawned an own literary sub-genre, the so-called „Robinsonade“, with dozens of writers trying to jump on the bandwagon.
Daniel Defoe’s cast away growing wise
Being a piece of writing from the early 18th century, this book is a bit hard to read at first, at least to me it was. But you get into it, and once you are used to DD’s style, the story is a lot of fun, and Robinson is a cool dude. DD is very keen on making the whole ordeal convincing, supplying the reader with lots of details (like Robinson’s troubles when he’s trying to raise crops). And he never forgets to make Robinson speak elaborately about his thoughts, many of which are of a religious nature. This is what seems to be at the core of this book: apart from the adventure story, we are reading about the transformation of a reckless youth to a man who has found his faith by being repeatedly tested, and who has grown to accept his fate in a kind of Job-like manner.
if you haven’t read it yet
I regret not having read this one while I was little. The language makes it a bit difficult to get into it at first, and the storytelling can get lengthy sometimes, but it’s still a great adventure story and a very charming piece of the world’s literary heritage.