Daniel Defoe (1661 – 1731)


He was born in a family of a butcher 7 naturally had a surname Foe. At the age of 60 he added De to his name. Born in London he tried his hands on all sorts of things until he became a journalist. He engaged himself in pamphlet writing. He was a man of extraordinary industry 7 wrote a lot of books (≈375).

Defoe relies upon facts. It’s not the situation that’s life-like, but the facts that make it so. When Defoe wrote the 1st part of “Robinson Crusoe” – “The life & surprising adventures of Robinson Crusoe”, he was 59. There was hardly any device for creating illusion of reality that Defoe did not employ. His characters themselves narrate their story & Defoe gets under the skin of his fictitious narrators. He keeps himself out of sight & this is apparent artlessness which becomes in the long run artfulness. He makes reader believe our imagination is captured by the constant nibbling.

In “Robinson Crusoe’ Defoe has an excellent subject, which may have come out as a box of tools. Defoe is curiously multileveled. It may be treated as a historical-philosophical level.

Crusoe is naked humanity grappling with its daily needs. All the problems he is confronted by are urgent & at the same time Crusoe is mostly a prototype of Englishman increasingly prominent, during the 18th a man from lower classes whose tunes was connected with strong sense of personal responsibility. Man of this kind made the industrial revolution possible. He’s self-reliant, energetic, a person who is in direct relation with God made ion his own image.

A symbol of humanity

This is a type of an Englishman from lower classes who had his own vision of life & sense of responsibility.

When Crusoe comes to an inhabited island those things like these would happen to a man like this. Defoe’s little lies has conditioned us to accept his bigger lie. We believe it because it’s a prose.

28 years 2 months & 19 days – Defoe captures time in the net of calendar.

The stress is not on the island, but on the man himself. It’s the 1st time we have a fictitious character. It’s Crusoe who fills the picture, he, who’s complete, a man dominating the nature. Crusoe relied upon his own ability to change the circumstances.

Crusoe was a very religious man. He can be described as God’s Englishman, as he believes, that God helps those who help themselves. The sense of partnership of God & man never leaves Crusoe. By describing his adventures Defoe did more. Now Crusoe’s island symbolizes the earth & Crusoe symbolizes humanity. Defoe had limitations. Being a stiry of adventures “Crusoe” is utterly automatic. These limitations turn into advantages, because any picturesque situation can make the story incredible. It remains one of the great romantic stories in the world.

“Robinson Crusoe” does not possess features of a novel. It’s the first sample of fiction in English literature. Defoe wrote some more books that were more like novels (Moll Flenders).

It’s “Robinson Crusoe” that is considered to be the book that influenced the works of many writers not only of the epoch, but of the century to come. It influenced a great deal the works of Jonathan Swift.

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