Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson CrusoeI must confess to concerns I usually have on reading books published prior to the 20th century.  I fain report this was without merit as Defoe’s writing style, while sometimes a tad verbose, was quite unpretentious.

Another well-known tale long on my to read list and I’m glad I finally got around to it.  A young man leaves home ignoring his father’s pleas not to go a sea and inevitably, encounters one disaster after another, eventually getting shipwrecked and stranded on a remote island.  While living on the island, he survives earthquakes, hurricanes, cannibals, and mutineers.

Robinson Crusoe, like many young people, is ready to go out into the world and ignores his father’s advice which later haunts his thoughts.  He initially sets out to sea but does not prove to be a worthy sailor and is told to find another calling.  He meets up with a kindly captain who teaches him the ways of the ocean and becomes more confident.  He is later captured and enslaved for two years and eventually escapes and boards another ship which is caught up in a storm and shipwrecked.  He lives on the island for 27 years during which time he becomes quite resourceful, confident and courageous. Hard lessons are learned over many difficult years and his eventual escape is almost anticlimactic.

The cannibal rescued by Crusoe, Friday, is superfluously indebted to him.  While his rescue is certainly due credit, the religious indoctrination bestowed upon him was way over the top and felt degrading at times.  Friday himself had been captured and was about to be sacrificed and eaten by his captors when he made a run for it and was hidden by Crusoe.  He learns English and is a devoted servant and religious convert henceforth.  A kind and thankful man who I’d hoped would voice some of his own convictions.

The (unnamed)  Portuguese Captain rescues Crusoe when he escapes his slavery and introduces him to plantation ownership which proves quite profitable.  He is very generous and trustworthy so Crusoe leaves him in charge when he sets sail again.  The Captain proves exceedingly dependable when, upon Crusoe’s nearly three decades of absence,  turns over profits and makes good for losses without complaint.

I’m sure there’d be many interesting conversations with this worldly gentleman.  Whether discussing his days in the pillory, time in prison or acting as a spy, I’m quite sure there’d be more to discuss than time would permit.  I’d have to ask how he was able to produce so much work while carrying on with so many other enterprises.

My rating for Robinson Crusoe is an 8 out of 10.

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Next up, Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way…Swann's Way


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