Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe


Of his prayers and the like we take no account, since they are a source of pleasure to him, and he looks upon them as so much recreation.

KARL MARX on Robinson Crusoe

I got so tired of the very colors!
One day I dyed a baby goat bright red
with my berries, just to see
something a little different.
And then his mother wouldn't recognize him.

ELIZABETH BISHOP, "Crusoe in England"

Had Karl Marx written Robinson Crusoe, it would have had even more moral vigor, but at the expense of the image of freedom it still provides for us. Had Elizabeth Bishop composed it, Defoe's narrative would have been enhanced as image and as impulse, but at the expense of its Puritan plainness, its persuasive search for some evidences of redemption. Certainly one of Defoe's novelistic virtues is precisely what Ian Watt and Martin Price have emphasized it to be; the puzzles of daily moral choice are omnipresent. Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders are human-all-too-human-and suffer what Calvin and Freud alike regarded as the economics of the spirit.

Defoe comes so early in the development of the modern novel as a literary form that there is always a temptation to historicize rather than to read him. But historicisms old and new are poor substitutes for reading, and I do not find it useful to place Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders in their contemporary context when I reread . . .

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