Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)

The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pirates. Written by Himself

Providence & Fate The main theme of the book is Crusoe’s destiny; how he conspires against his own interest.
Style Enormous long rambling paragraphs.
Theme Crusoe’s rebellion against God & insistence on a cursed fate.

  • The captain of the Guinea ship deals fairly with him
  • Crusoe deals honestly with the negroes on the Africa shore on his escape from slavery
  • The Portuguese captain who rescues him serves him handsomely
  • Crusoe is considerate of Xuri, only selling the boy when he says he wants to go to the kind Portuguese captain
  • Crusoe is heartbroken by the young kid after shooting its mother
  • He is fond of his 2 cats & dog

Crusoe is born in 1632 (ie it’s set several generations in the past, like all Defoe’s novels).
Age 18 Crusoe argues with his Dad who argues for the sweetness of the middle station in life.

Voyage 1 Takes ship on a whim in Hull. Shipwrecked off Yarmouth. Captain of ship says he’s cursed. Refuses to acknowledge it. Hangs around in London.
Voyage 2 Goes aboard a ship to Guinea; makes £400 by exchanging trinkets for gold. Leaves it with the widow of the Guinea captain who had died.
Voyage 3 Sets sail again. Off the Canary Islands captured by pirates from Morocco. Made a slave for 2 years to the captain of the ship in Rabat. Allowed to row a pinnace out to get fish, one day he provisions it, sails out, throws the adult Moor overboard, keeps the boy Xuri with him. Sails south round Africa towards the Cape Verde islands for about 4 weeks. Various stops for water; shoot animals; encounter negroes who leave food & water for them.
Rescue Picked up by a Portuguese boat, dealt with very fairly by the captain; sells him Xury.
Brasil With the money made from selling the Portuguese captain his pinnace & animal skins Crusoe sets up as a plantation owner for 4 years. Sends via the Portuguese captain to the widow who sends on his money plus metal tools.
Slavery a) buys a slave as soon as he has the money b) tells his friends all about the items including slaves to be bought cheap on the Guinea coast. So Crusoe is on a slave-trading voyage when he is wrecked. He sets off September 1st, 8 years after leaving his parents in York.
The Storm The storm & wreck & Crusoe’s swim to shore is fantastically vividly described.
The Island of Despair He calculates he set foot on the island on 30th September 1659.
Salvage Crusoe has 14 days or so to salvage goods from the ship which he does very thoroughly. Vivid description of manoeuvring the raft into the small river; on one trip it is upended; on another he has to brace it with his back till the tide lifts it off sand: vivid.
Base then he builds his base: he finds a lawn 100 yards wide in front of a sheer rock face with a slight concavity in it; erects a tent before the concavity, a palisade of stakes, ramped up with turves, and a roof; digging back into the cave to create his kitchen.
Journal He keeps a journal until his ink runs out, from 30 September 1659 till …
The barley which he throws away sprouts! Providence!! – though it fades when he realises it has a purely secular explanation.
Earthquake collapses the roof of his cave; and he sees half the cliff face fall away in the distance.
Fever He gets a fever; malaria etc.
Other side of the island Crusoe follows the river upstream till he reaches its source, then climbs over a peak into the other side of the island: much nicer, like a garden: tobacco, grapes, lemons grow there wild.
Bible He finds a bible among the chests and has a profound religious conversion – he is born again, realising he is saved by the blood of the lamb etc.

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