Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Review of 'Robinson Crusoe' by Daniel Defoe

Review of 'Robinson Crusoe' by Daniel Defoe

This book has been sat around on my shelves since I was about nine or ten. For real. That's well over a decade. It's remained unread the entire time, but it had a pretty cover so I kept it. Priorities and all that. Anyhow, for the longest time, I thought Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island were the same book, and that kind of shows how much interest I paid to the novel as it sat gathering dust.

I finally decided to put my curiosity at ease as to why this was a classic and get underway with the novel, and despite being fairly slow-going in some places, in others it was actually quite interesting. Robinson Crusoe is largely renowned for being the first English novel.

Robinson Crusoe is a young man who, like many others, doesn't really know what to do with his life. He needs to join a profession, and his father is keen to get him set up in one, but Crusoe decides he wants to sail for a bit before settling down. He heads off on a short voyage from one part of the UK mainland to another, and is shocked at the violence of a storm that his ship is swept up in. 

Robinson is not put off however; he's caught the sailing bug and wants to do it again. This time it's a longer voyage. All is going well until the ship is caught up in an even bigger storm, and ends up wildly missing its destination. Instead, the group of shipmates end up being captured by an African lord, and kept as hostages. Once Crusoe finds a way out, he cannot return to England: he is in but a tiny boat, and keeps close to mainland Africa. Finally, he ends up in Brazil and sets up a plantation there.

Robinson is at last making some good profits, but his neighbour suggests that they go on a voyage to capture slaves from America to work on the plantations they own, and Robinson cannot resist the temptation of being on the sea once more. The ship they travel on shipwrecks off of the coast of a small island, and Robinson is the only survivor. He must adapt to life alone on this island, and the majority of the novel tracks his progress as he does this.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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