Robinson Crusoe

by Daniel Defoe

Ebook, 2011



During one of his several adventurous voyages in the 1600s, an Englishman becomes the sole survivor of a shipwreck and lives for nearly thirty years on a deserted island.

Library's rating


(3024 ratings; 3.6)

Media reviews

“Robinson Crusoe,” though, remains something truly special: It belongs in that small category of classics — others are “The Odyssey” and “Don Quixote” — that we feel we’ve read even if we haven’t. Retellings for children and illustrations, like those by N.C. Wyeth, have made its key scenes universally recognizable.... A classic is a book that generations have found worth returning to and arguing with. Vividly written, replete with paradoxes and troubling cultural attitudes, revealing a deep strain of supernaturalism beneath its realist surface, “Robinson Crusoe” is just such a classic and far more than a simple adventure story for kids.
2 more
Cornhill Magazine
A friend of mine, a Welsh blacksmith, was twenty-five years old and could neither read nor write, when he heard a chapter of Robinson read aloud in a farm kitchen. Up to that moment he had sat content, huddled in his ignorance, but he left that farm another man. There were day-dreams, it appeared, divine day-dreams, written and printed and bound, and to be bought for money and enjoyed at pleasure. Down he sat that day, painfully learned to read Welsh, and returned to borrow the book. It had been lost, nor could he find another copy but one that was in English. Down he sat once more, learned English, and at length, and with entire delight, read Robinson... It was the scene of Crusoe at the wreck, if I remember rightly, that so bewitched my blacksmith. Nor is the fact surprising. Every single article the castaway recovers from the hulk is “a joy for ever” to the man who reads of them. They are the things that should be found, and the bare enumeration stirs the blood.
Saturday Review of Literature
Crusoe has been called a kind of Protestant monk, and it is true that he turns the chance of his isolation into an anchorite’s career. The story is one of spiritual realization — almost half a lifetime spent on contemplation works profound changes, whatever the subject’s religion. We can watch Crusoe become, year by year, a better, wiser man... Robinson Crusoe may still be the greatest English novel. Surely it is written with a mastery that has never been surpassed. It is not only as convincing as real life. It is as deep and as superficial as direct experience itself.

User reviews

LibraryThing member camillahoel
This is possibly the most mindnumbingly boring book I have ever read. I may have read worse, but if so I have removed the memory of the horror from my conscious mind.

The worst bit is I thought I had read it before and rather liked it. I can only surmise that I have read one of those re-written versions for children, one that put rather more weight on the cannibals, finding Friday, the hindering of the mutiny ... you know, that sort of thing. I am of course referring to the rare moments of "something happens".

I am not saying the book is bad. It does a very good job of conveying the feeling of being stuck on a desert island for 28 years. The sheer mind-numbing slowness of it. And while it is a dreadfully religious book, and my patience when it comes to sermons in books is limited to accept only two repetitions per topic, I enjoyed the occasional kicks aimed in the general direction of the Stuart monarchy, the Catholics and other people Defoe did not like in general.

Perhaps I found it so boring because I am not a Victorian boy. I find it as a staple of any male character set in the Victorian era (and often later) that he will have spent his childhood reading Robinson Crusoe and enjoying it tremendously. Half the male authors I have been reading about considered it one of their formative books. Ironically, these authors write books I like, books that do not go on for 180 pages about the detailed measurements of the cave, the table, the canoe, the wall and all the rest.

I know why it is there. I know it is supposed to back up the illusion of truth, the claim that it is a memoir, not a fiction. But knowing does not entail enjoying.

Finally, for I should stop now, I must say this: I am sure this could be an intriguing book to analyse. Both for its attitude to politics and religion, for its very interesting treatment of slavery (which did fascinate me when it showed up), for the meditations on cultural relativity, or even for its use of mind-numbing detail of mundane tasks as a literary tool which really does communicate the experience of the cast-away in a way that no mere "I was alone on the island for 25 years" can do.

I am not saying that you shouldn't read it. But don't go into it thinking it will be fun.
… (more)
LibraryThing member atopps
Robinson Crusoe is a very complicated book. There were many parts that I enjoyed, but at the same time, there were parts that left me confused or wanting more. One thing that I thought added to the novel is that all of the characters served a purpose. Sometimes in other books, there are lots and lots of characters but only a few are important to the story. In this story, all of the caracters helped progress the story and open up new pathways. This led to me wanting to know more about each character because I knew that they would have some kind of impact on Crusoe and the story.
One thing that I didn’t enjoy was Robinson Crusoe’s first voyage back to Europe. To me, this was very anti-climactic and wasn’t as special of a moment as it should have been. I figured that if he ever returned home, it would be a huge deal, but with most of his family dead, it didn’t seem as big of a deal. This left a sour taste in my mouth. That is because Crusoe made many bad decisions throughout his life, and they didn’t come back to hurt him. He ended up wealthy, in good health, and was able to see the world as he wanted when he was a young man.
The beginning of the story was a little confusing for me. I thought that Robinson Crusoe would get to the deserted island much quicker and so I was anxious for him to get there. This led to me not focusing as much on the details of where he was, but trying to figure out how he was going to get onto the island. On each of his trips before the wreck, I thought that he would be stranded somewhere, when in reality, he arrived safely in his first few voyages.
My favorite character was the Portuguese Captain, who played a huge role in Robinson Crusoe’s successfulness. These two first met in the middle of the ocean while Robinson and Xury, a slave boy, were trying to escape from Moorish pirates. The captain saved Robinson and took him to Brazil to start a new life. The Captain was one of the main reasons that this story turned out the way that it did. I enjoyed reading about the captain because, while other characters were doubting Robinson and not believing in him, the Captain saw something that others didn’t and gave Robinson a big break. Whatever the Portuguese Captain saw in Robinson saved his life and gave him new hope.
Overall I enjoyed reading this book. The ever-changing story kept me interested and wanting more. Even though it wouldn’t seem as if there would be much action on a deserted island, I found this book interesting. There were a few things that I would have changed such as the importance of certain events, but besides that I thought this was a good book to read. To close, I would recommend this book to someone who was looking for a book that was different from anything they had read before.
… (more)
LibraryThing member readingwithtea
Not the gripping tale I had hoped it would be.

My father had warned me that I might find Robinson Crusoe too simple in light of my recent Brontë adventures, and he was right - the writing is skilful, the plot adequate, but I was left unmoved.

Written in the style of a diary (with a few unnecessary extra layers of diary-writing), the book follows Robinson Crusoe's misadventures at sea, from running away from home, joining a ship to Africa, being enslaved, escaping, sailing to Brazil, becoming a rich land-owner and becoming ship-wrecked while on a slave-gathering journey. We then follow twenty-something years of how he fends for himself on an uninhabited island (which seems to be remarkably abundant in everything he might need), and how he finally makes contact with savages and escapes from his island.

Robinson himself is well-educated and therefore frames his thoughts eruditely, but there is little to like or dislike in his character - he is simply there. And alone.

Maybe one needs to be male to appreciate/understand/enjoy this novel

Something I learnt in Germany: Management, Robinson Crusoe style, is just waiting for Friday.
… (more)
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I do think this is a book worth reading at least once (thus the three stars), although it certainly is no favorite. One thing it isn't though, even though I've seen the novel categorized as such--it's not a tale that would appeal to children in language or content--at least not in unabridged, unbowlderized, unillustrated editions. The novel is a mix of the good, the bad and the very ugly.

Good -- The introduction calls this book "the first English novel" and that alone is good reason for anyone interested in the form to read it. And for the most part, it's a very engaging read which surprised me in something so early in the form--it probably helped I read an edition that modernized the spelling and punctuation. Crusoe's first person voice pulled me in, and there's a lot of evocative detail that brings the story alive. The afterward in the edition I read speaks of one of the fascinations of the tale is "technique." Isolated on an island in the Caribbean, at first with nothing but one knife, a pipe and a bit of tobacco, Crusoe recapitulates the entire process of civilization. First salvaging tools and stores from his wrecked ship, then mastering everything from carpentry, basket-weaving and pottery to small scale animal husbandry and agriculture and more. Parts of this book makes for great action/adventure reading--truly suspenseful parts that play like a film in my mind, such as as the chapters dealing with quelling a mutiny. It's not overlong either, and I found it a quick read.

Bad -- The narrative at times violates the rule "show, don't tell" and the style is almost too spare at times and too taken up with minutia. The book was once praised for it's piety but to modern ears, even to devout Christian ones, I think, would come across as unduly preachy in parts--and that very preachiness complicates what I find most problematical in the novel. (See, "Very Ugly" below.) And my goodness, Defoe uses the word "Providence" more often than Meyer's Twilight uses "sparkle." (That would be a lot.) The last three chapters of a few dozen pages is anticlimactic, tedious and pointless after all that came before.

Very Ugly -- In a word: slavery. I really am willing to make allowances for the times--the novel was published in 1719--but it's an issue from the first that got increasingly more disturbing. Crusoe himself before being shipwrecked on that island had been captured by pirates and sold into slavery and endures in that condition for two years. He escapes with a fellow slave who helps him quite a lot--then Crusoe turns around and sells the boy into slavery. Crusoe's brought to Brazil where he becomes a slave owning planter. The very voyage that shipwrecked him was for the purpose of bringing slaves back to Brazil. And I could have set that aside... Except... Well, Crusoe has a spiritual reawakening on the island where he bewails his sins--and they turn out to be his "original sin" in disobeying his father by going out to sea--and not being religiously observant in matters such as the sabbath. Slavery is certainly not enumerated.

And then there's Friday. "Man Friday" is a word for servant because of this novel. For two-thirds of the novel Crusoe is alone. He observes that "cannibals" come ashore periodically with victims, and decides that he'll rescue one, or even two or three to "make slaves" of them. He does exactly that, and especially in the chapters dealing with his turning a man he names Friday into a servant, teaching him to call Crusoe "master" and converting Friday into a Christian, I truly wished I could reach into the pages and throttle Crusoe.

I found the treatment of the whole issue more maddening than in any book I can ever remember reading. Including Gone With the Wind by the way. Lots of people decry that book as racist and as an apologia for slavery. I love Gone With the Wind though, despite those problems and found it far easier to enjoy. I think part of what made it easier to tolerate is that Gone With the Wind was written and published after slavery was history and set in an era where there was great opposition to it that would lead to its abolition. Proponents of slavery at least were on the defensive. Reading Robinson Crusoe, it seems this was an era where no one had a clue slavery was wrong at all. Forgetting the Sabbath? Quel horror! Trafficking in fellow human beings? Situation normal. Never mind that the whole characterization of Friday was enough to set my teeth on edge. Although in a way I suppose all this is all the more reason to read the book. The mindset says volumes about how the slave trade was able to be established and endure so long. No moral brakes on the practice. At least if Defoe reflects his times faithfully.

For what it's worth, a friend who is an academic in the field of literature tells me there had been objections and opposition to slavery from the outset--and that critics themselves are undecided whether to take Crusoe straight up or whether his views reflect the author's. Apparently Defore is well-known for writing unsavory and repulsive characters who wind up on top--as in Moll Flanders about a thief and prostitute. So maybe we're meant to want to throttle Crusoe. Just reinforces though--this isn't some sweet children's book.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Stevil2001
This book is not only a tedious slog through minutiae, it's a tedious slog through the same minutiae repeatedly. Crusoe reports how he crashes on an island; then, he tells you that he started keeping a journal a few weeks later, so there's no entry for crashing on the island, but if there was it would be like this hypothetical example; then he gives you his journal... which opens with him crashing on the island! Dude, it was barely interesting the first time, much less the final and contradictory one. Even less interesting is Crusoe's need to explain goat-raising and wall-building. If this journal had been someone's blog, I'd've unfriended that guy so fast. (It doesn't help that Defoe is unable to sustain the fiction of a journal, as it is frequently written in the past tense from an obviously post-island perspective.) Once things finally start happening in the final third with the arrival of Friday and the cannibals, they don't really get any better, as Crusoe is one of those awesome-at-everything-forever protagonists who never has to actually work for his victories, mostly because apparently everyone else in the world is a mentally stunted coward.

Also: I know Defoe was inventing the novel and all, but would it have killed him to use chapter breaks?
… (more)
LibraryThing member librisissimo
Substance: A series of connected anecdotes, there being no real story beyond th experiences of Crusoe on the not-quite-desert island. The moral of the story purported to be Crusoe's repentance of his previous immoral life and reprobate deeds, but in fact he never seemed to get beyond them. His casual acceptance of his right to be master of his fellow escapee extended to his making Friday his servant, despite extending many deserved accolades to the "savage". Once released from the island, he faced no tests of his new-found Christianity, which consisted primarily of gratitude (well-enough) and seemed devoid of any real understanding of Christian doctrine (understandable in the period in which Defoe lived).
Style: Entertaining, engaging, and everything your English teacher ever told you.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Esquilinho
legendary story seems not to have aged very well..: Most everyone in the English-speaking world has heard of 'Robinson Crusoe' and know roughly what the story is about (Englishman gets marooned on a island and runs into fellow castaway sidekick he calls Friday). And upon reading the book there are no surprises. It reads like a book written 300 years ago: it's language is a bit stiff, lots of preaching of Christianity and Christian values, absolutely no sex. There is some violence but it is not belabored nor is it graphic.

However 'Robinson Crusoe' is not a deadly dull read. Defoe's attention to detail on how Crusoe survives on the island is quite remarkable, and inventive. His interaction with Friday and other folks ( the end of the book) is also interesting. Yet overall there is nothing here to enthrall the reader. Noted as a book for young (teenaged) readers, I think 'Robinson Crusoe' would bore anyone but the most patient adult.

Bottom line: certainly a classic and not devoid of merit, but overall I am unlikely to recommend this book.
… (more)
LibraryThing member dilettanti
Wilkie Collins put in the pen of Gabriel Betteredge the following words: "I have found it my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life. When my spirits are bad — ROBINSON CRUSOE. When I want advice — ROBINSON CRUSOE. In past times when my wife plagued me; in present times when I have had a drop too much — ROBINSON CRUSOE." At once both caricature and encomium, and each a fitting response.… (more)
LibraryThing member afderrick
Oh my gosh this book was terrible! I wish I had of looked further into it before actually getting and reading this book. I gave it two stars because it was something I had heard about before and someone thought well enough to make a movie of it. I'm glad to be able to say that yes I've ready Robinson Crusoe but it's not a book I would ever recommend to anyone. The last 1/4 of the book was pretty good with a disappointing ending. The first 3/4 of the book though seemed like Defoe just wanted to increase the length of his book and many times I thought I was re-reading a page simple because there was so much redundancy in the book.

It took me two weeks to read this book when I finished one about 100 pages longer in about 4 days, I just found this book put me to sleep and I couldn't concentrate on it at all. Finally I didn't care much for how it was written. When speakers in a conversation changed the only way you could tell was by the apostrophes. Normally where there is a line break there was none, this confused me many times with the dialogs. This may have just been my version of the book though
… (more)
LibraryThing member MickyFine
The classic tale of Robinson Crusoe who is shipwrecked and lives alone on a deserted island for many years until he discovers a mysterious footprint.

I am so thrilled to be done with this book. Although it's a classic and I can understand why it's achieved that status, I am thoroughly glad to not have to spend another second with Robinson Crusoe. The book is definitely a reflection of its time when European exploration was at its height. It's also one of the earliest examples of a deserted island narrative, where the protagonist spends many years alone. But for the modern palate, the book is more than a little dry.

I had serious issues finding many elements of the story credible. The number of shipwrecks, rescues, crises, and encounters with wild animals/people go beyond what would be believable now. For example, ***SPOILER ALERT**** near the end of the book when Robinson Crusoe and his group are attacked by wolves 3 separate times, I was ready to throw the book against the wall, especially when the last group of wolves was 300 strong. What kind of mutant wolves are these?! ***END SPOILERS*** I also found the repetition within the narrative irritating. Not only would similar events happen several times in a row, but Robinson would have a similar reaction written with the exact same language every time. While there is some very impressive prose in some of Robinson Crusoe's more reflective moments, I spent a good chunk of the book going, "Seriously?!" Also the condescending attitude of Robinson Crusoe towards "savages," his religious hypocrisy, and his utterly blase attitude towards slavery rubbed me the wrong way. While probably quite thrilling when it was originally published in 1719, I didn't find the narrative exciting enough for my tastes.
… (more)
LibraryThing member bokeef2
Robinson Crusoe
Bryan O'Keeffe

I found this old collection of children's stories and this book came from that collection. I have read Robinson Crusoe before and know of the story but never really understood the story as a child. Going back and reading this story as an adult has really made me love this story all over again. I love the story of travel and being adventurous and getting stranded on an island for years. It is the classic survivor tale in its glory. The version I read was super condensed for the child at the turn of the 20th century. The story was really easy to read and was written really well and had a very quick flow to it. I enjoyed the fact that Robinson has always seemed like a realistic figure who was a pioneer for America. He felt like he belonged in the age of Lewis & Clark discovering new land. The best thing about this book was the antique looking illustrations. They went along with the others in this collection that I had read and are by far my favorite style of illustrations in a book yet. They are very bold in color with only a few colors per illustration. They fit the condensed form of the story very well. I would recommend this book to and reader.… (more)
LibraryThing member madspihl
Read this, expecting to know the story, since it is a tale told all over the world. Was happily surprised to feel the pace of Crusoe's routines, and all the details of everyday life only made the story more believable. Wonderful read. Read Robert P. Marzec's "Enclosure, Colonization, and the Robinson Crusoe syndrome" parallel with Defoe's book - very interesting analysis. Text published in "boundary", 2:29:2, 2002 (Duke Uni. Press).… (more)
LibraryThing member lit_chick
2008, Blackstone Audiobooks, Read by John Lee

I’ve been wanting to read this classic, first published in 1719, for some time. It is in [1001 Books] and it is widely acknowledged at the first English novel.

Defoe presents readers with a fascinating scenario: the prolonged and intense solitude of Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked on a deserted island. Crusoe’s grappling with his new existence is captivating. First, of course, he needs to learn how he will feed himself; but in time he develops a relationship with the natural world of the island which allows him not only to survive but to fashion a quite comfortable, if solitary, existence. And he develops a personal connection to God that is both rich and rewarding, where before his mishap, he had none. Crusoe’s encounters with the native islanders date the publication in terms of master/slave relations with the savages – and and I found it difficult not to squirm, reading from my twenty-first century chair (what’s more, I could not but notice that such relations are left absent from the most recent re-telling of Robinson Crusoe, the 2000 film Castaway.

Good read. Not one I will revisit, but one that is certainly worthwhile.
… (more)
LibraryThing member JHINIE
I have never read a book like Robinson Crusoe. The ambiance of the book is only enhanced by both the time period it was written in as well as the books significance. Robinson Crusoe is one of the very first novels, and set a benchmark for other books to come.
I had my doubts about this book. Upon initial visual judgment, I thought this book would be too long. Knowing when the book was published, I assumed Robinson Crusoe would bore me, as did Wuthering Heights (no offense I love the song. Without the book there wouldn’t have been the song). Then I started to actually read the book. It was ok. The storyline at the time seemed all too familiar. Some young fellow ignores his, or her, parent’s wishes and goes gallivanting off only to face a series of challenges that eventually lead him/her to some sort of revelation. Than again, one must considered that this was the “original” novel, for which countless stories used as their basis. Also, I wasn’t too found of Mr. Crusoe, who seemed a bit too focused on his own dreams. Furthermore, I felt that Robinson Crusoe lacked a great deal of depth. However, the more I progressed, the more I began to see; the hidden meanings, the important ones.
Religion, the “human condition”(we were born to be our own destroyer), and justice are a few themes that this novel weaves into its pages. Survival obviously became the centerpiece. I love survival. I’m all for “Man vs. Wild”, “Survivor Man”, and “Cast Away”. Naturally, I found the latter part of the novel very appealing. Seeing Robinson Crusoe survive and persevere would lead me to appreciate the character. He earned my respect. I would love to give you examples of exactly how he earned my respect, but I don’t want to ruin the book for you. The call of the wild will always be a part of me, as it became a part of Crusoe.
Through the many page of Robinson Crusoe, I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized how great of a milestone this book was. Without a publication date printed on it, I would have taken it as an early 20th century novel. It turns out that this book is much older. However, it manages to present new ideas.
… (more)
LibraryThing member encephalical
I have vague memories of reading a Classics Illustrated or other adapted version of this as a child. Whatever version that was, it was more entertaining. Beyond that value, this is one of the best examples I've encountered of what criticism of the canon is all about, viz., having a dismissive, patronizing attitude of anything not English or reflective of Defoe's values.… (more)
LibraryThing member KarenDuff
What I learned from this book is that not every book that is called a classic earns that title.If this hadn't been on my Feb bookshelf then I wouldn't have finished it.

I know this is regarded as the first english language novel but that doesn't excuse the fact that it is badly written.

Robinson Crusoe is a complete and utter idiot, he never learns from his mistakes and never takes advice from anybody. Maybe it's just me but if the very first ship you are on sinks perhaps you should take it as a sign, but not him off he goes again and ends up as a slave. He escapes and is rescued by a too good to be true captain and makes a good life for himself in Brazil, but even then that is not enough. So when some of his friends decide they want more slaves he is selected to make the trip to buy them and of course being Robinson the ship is struck by a hurricane while in the Carribean. Sounds bad so far doesn't it and it only gets worse.

I know that I shouldn't complain about the attitude towards slavery in the book as it was a different time period and it is historically accurate but I just found it really hard to stomach, in fact it made me wish that Friday had been a cannibal.

I have read this book before but I was about ten and you don't really pick up on the racism and all the other things that are wrong with this book at that age. Then you just think about the adventure of being on a desert island. The reason I read this again is because a few weeks ago I was having dinner with my Mum and she was watching what I thought was I very bad adaptation. Turns out it was the source material that was the problem and based on that there was no way you could ever make a good version.
… (more)
LibraryThing member TrasFavoritePastime
To say I hated this book is probably the understatement of the century. In fact, I'm only halfway through the book after six years! I just can't seem to bring myself to buckle down and finish it mainly because the main character is a whiny pompous ass who is just plain dislikeable. I should probably donate this book, but there is still this little part of me that insists on finishing it, although that will most likely never happen.… (more)
LibraryThing member .Monkey.
I think if someone cleared this of about 95% of the religious/"moral" drivel, it would be a decent story. As it is, much of it is bogged down by his droning on about that. But the story itself was fairly interesting. Not really recommended unless you're simply a fan of the old classics, and/or like having that sort of thing shoved endlessly down your throat.… (more)
LibraryThing member jess_reads_books
I heard a lot of negative things about the story of Robinson Crusoe, so when I decided to pick up the book I had my doubts. I have to say, I found the book engaging and the story thoroughly interesting. I loved everything about the book right up until the ending. I felt as though Defoe rushed the end and took away everything we enjoyed from the Robinson's island adventure.… (more)
LibraryThing member WhatTheDickens
Although tedious at times, I found this book to be a captivating adventure. With allowances made for the time period the book was written, this book is a rather straighforward and intriguing adventure. It does get repetitive at times and bogs down with the detail of the drudgery of Crusoe's solitary life on the island, but perhaps that just give's one a sense of how monotonous and slowly life would pass if one were walking in Robinson Crusoe's shoes.… (more)
LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
I tried to read this when I was getting my Masters in English. Truly, I did. It was on a list of maybe a hundred books that I was supposed to read outside of classes and be prepared to talk about in an oral exam... and it was the only one I began, and simply couldn't finish. I got to page 26 before I gave up.

This year, I decided to try it again. After all, back when I tried it the first time, I was stressed and rushed, and surely some book or another would test my patience, so it had to be better than I'd thought back then. Right? Well, um, yeah... not really.

I understand this is a classic, and I even understand why. I'm glad to be able to say that I finally finished it. But that's about all I can say. This was a dry read, and one that I had a hard time getting through. Sprinkles of action didn't make up for the non-action or the style of the book, and although I rather like the idea of the story and wanted to enjoy this, I just couldn't. Unless you have to read it, I probably wouldn't recommend it.
… (more)
LibraryThing member AlCracka
Robinson Crusoe, a suicidal businessman with sociopathic tendencies, obsessively tries to recreate society when he's shipwrecked. He grows increasingly paranoid; by the time he finally reunites with another human, he's murderously insane.
LibraryThing member heidip
I was very surprised by this book. First published in 1719, this is the first shipwrecked story, a prototype for those that followed. I had just finished reading The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe, and I did not enjoy that seafaring adventure. So, I wasn't looking forward to this one either. My bookclub meeting is coming....

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The story is much more complex than I guessed. Where do I begin? Well, the themes are complex. Robinson Crusoe muses on God's providence, His deliverance, His omniscience, His omnipotence and many other difficult topics.

You may know the flow of the story already, but basically a young man goes to sea against the sound advice and council of his parents. He is captured as a slave, runs away, starts a sugar plantation, and then is shipwrecked on a deserted island. All of his shipmates drown, and he alone is saved. His survival story is fascinating and interspersed with Robinson's philosophical musings and his emotional grappling of the situation. Why was he saved when everyone else perished? How come he is in this desolate situation? As in this quote:

"I was very pensive upon the subject of my present condition, when reason as it were expostulated with me t'other way, thus: Well, you are in a desolate condition, 'tis true, but pray remember, Where are the ten? Why were not they sav'd and you lost? Why were you singled out? Is it better to be here or there, and then I pointed to the sea? All evils are to be consider'd with the good that is in them, and with what worse attends them."

He thinks long and hard about repentance and what it means, and we see a Christian conversion story right in the middle of his darkest moments. Robinson Crusoe was able to make a raft and swim to the shipwrecked boat to get supplies. He finds a Bible and reads it daily. He thanks God and works to build up a food supply.

More than halfway through the book, he finds out that a nearby cannibalistic tribe travels to "his" island to murder and eat people. Here's where things get a little uncomfortable for us in the 21st century. Imperialism rears its head. Robinson Crusoe believes the island is his and he is the king.

"My island was now peopled, and I thought myself very rich in subjects; and it was a merry reflection which I frequently made, how like a king I look'd. First of all, the whole country was my own meer property; so that I had an undoubted right of dominion. Secondly, my people were perfectly subjected: I was absolute lord and law-giver."

He also treats his subjects as inferiors and makes them swear to be his subjects/slaves. Slavery is no where questioned which seems odd given that Robinson Crusoe was a slave at the beginning of the book.

The study of this novel could go fascinatingly deep. There is a large list of suggested further reading in my introduction. One book from University of Chicago Press discusses Robinson Crusoe as part of Puritan tradition through Bunyan and Milton; another has a discussion of Robinson Crusoe and European imperialism. Both of those topics would be an excellent study.
… (more)
LibraryThing member ACDoyleLibrary
"There is no reason why "Treasure Island" should not be to the rising generation of the twenty-first century what "Robinson Crusoe" has been to that of the nineteenth. The balance of probability is all in that direction. " --Through the Magic Door, p. 265
LibraryThing member jasonlf
I may be the only person who has read two books by Daniel Defoe, neither of them Robinson Crusoe or Moll Flanders. Decided to finally remedy that. It may be heretical to say, but Robinson Crusoe feels more like a historical curiosity than a great novel. If the Odyssey or Bleak House were published for the first time today they would be considered masterpieces. If Robinson Crusoe were published today one would think the action was somewhat lame, the character's psychology implausible, and the novel lacking in a coherent structure, especially as manifested by the ending, not to mention the books racism and imperialism.

That said, it as a very worthwhile historical curiosity and it is hard to imagine it not having been written and it is generally enjoyable to read,. The first quarter is a series of adventures culminating in Crusoe being stranded on an uninhabited island in the Caribbean. The last quarter is another series of adventures, not just his escape but -- oddly continuing to adventures like being attacked by wolves while traveling overland from Portugal to Northern France.,

The middle half of the book is the timeless story of Crusoe's 27 years on the island, starting with his meticulous efforts to save as much as possible from the ship and continuing through his becoming increasingly productive through agriculture and livestock rearing, much of it described in minute and fascinating detail. Crusoe himself, however, is a stock character who has no psychological depth, no depth of emotion about his situation, and often has attitudes that seem implausible for someone stranded alone for more than twenty years.
… (more)


(2011), 200 pages

Original publication date





Page: 0.5266 seconds