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A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (English Library) [Paperback]

Daniel Defoe , Pat Rodgers
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 May 1978 English Library
Britain in the early eighteenth century: an introduction that is both informative and imaginative, reliable and entertaining. To the tradition of travel writing Daniel Defoe brings a lifetime's experience as a businessman, soldier, economic journalist and spy, and his Tour (1724-6) is an invaluable source of social and economic history. But this book is far more than a beautifully written guide to Britain just before the industrial revolution, for Defoe possessed a wild, inventive streak that endows his work with astonishing energy and tension, and the Tour is his deeply imaginative response to a brave new economic world. By employing his skills as a chronicler, a polemicist and a creative writer keenly sensitive to the depredations of time, Defoe more than achieves his aim of rendering 'the present state' of Britain.

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A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (English Library) + A Journal of the Plague Year (Dover Thrift Editions) + The Storm (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (25 May 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140430660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140430660
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel Defoe was a Londoner, born in 1660 at St Giles, Cripplegate, and son of James Foe, a tallow-chandler. He changed his name to Defoe from c. 1695. He was educated for the Presbyterian Ministry at Morton's Academy for Dissenters at Newington Green, but in 1682 he abandoned this plan and became a hosiery merchant in Cornhill. After serving briefly as a soldier in the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion, he became well established as a merchant and travelled widely in England, as well as on the Continent.

Between 1697 and 1701 he served as a secret agent for William III in England and Scotland, and between 1703 and 1714 for Harley and other ministers. During the latter period he also, single-handed, produced the Review, a pro-government newspaper. A prolific and versatile writer he produced some 500 books on a wide variety of topics, including politics, geography, crime, religion, economics, marriage, psychology and superstition. He delighted in role-playing and disguise, a skill he used to great effect as a secret agent, and in his writing he often adopted a pseudonym or another personality for rhetorical impact.

His first extant political tract (against James II) was published in 1688, and in 1701 appeared his satirical poem The True-Born Englishman, which was a bestseller. Two years later he was arrested for The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters, an ironical satire on High Church extremism, committed to Newgate and pilloried. He turned to fiction relatively late in life and in 1719 published his great imaginative work, Robinson Crusoe. This was followed in 1722 by Moll Flanders and A Journal of the Plague Year, and in 1724 by his last novel, Roxana.

His other works include A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, a guide-book in three volumes (1724-6; abridged Penguin edition, 1965), The Complete English Tradesman (1726), Augusta Triumphans, (1728), A Plan of the English Commerce (1728) and The Complete English Gentleman (not published until 1890). He died on 24 April 1731. Defoe had a great influence on the development of the English novel and many consider him to be the first true novelist.

Product Description

About the Author

Daniel Defoe (c.1660-1731), one of the most famous writers in English literature, was born in London, the son of James Foe, a butcher. It was Daniel who changed his name to De Foe or Defoe in about 1705. He was interested in politics and opposed King James II. After the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and William III was on the throne, Defoe became one of his personal friends. He became a writer for the government and a satircal writer on various social issues of the time. He turned to full time writing after hearing the inspirational story of a sailor who was rescued after living alone on a desert island in the Pacific, the result being his first novel ROBINSON CRUSOE. Several other adventure stories followed, including MOLL FLANDERS.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I began my travels, where I purpose to end them, viz. at the city of London, and therefore my account of the city itself will come last, that is to say, at the latter end of my southern progress; and as in the course of this journey I shall have many occasions to call it a circuit, if not a circle, so I chose to give it the title of circuits, in the plural, because I do not pretend to have travelled it all in one journey, but in many, and some of them many times over; the better to inform my self of every thing I could find worth taking notice of. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars England as it was. 31 Dec 2011
This really is an extraordinary record of Defoe's travels around the whole island: how he managed to cover the distances on horseback is beyond imagination. The blizzard he encountered in August (!!) between Rochdale and Halifax is well described. His record of places is very detailed and full of interest. It is not an 'easy' read, being quite dense, but well worthwhile. I now know where the phrase "on tenterhooks" originated. His description of London in those days is fascinating to anyone who knows it now.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Optimistic Capitalist 7 Sep 2010
Daniel Defoe surveys Britain with the eye of a range of experts, whose callings, in the early 18th century, were yet to be labelled. He was an economist, a sociologist, an agronomist and a geographer.

Unlike any other account I have read of a tour through our land as either horseman or pedestrian, Defoe is not lamenting some lost past. He has an eye on development. William Cobbett in 'Rural Rides' sighs for an imaginary England of independent, contented farmers and labourers whose prospects have been lately ruined by idiot politicians. George Borrow, in 'Lavengro' and 'Romany Rye' records only the remains of a once intact Romany language or, in 'Wild Wales' a disappearing Wales of bards and contented 'gwerin'. Laurie Lee, in 'As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning' remembers fondly an England whose peace was only just beginning to be disturbed by the emergence of the motor car.

For Defoe there is no stasis in even the sleepiest of villages. Indeed, he views tranquillity as a sign of stagnation. Everywhere there is dynamism; communities are rising or decaying according to the condition of their industry.
Wool and its by products seem to rule. I had heard of 'broadcloth' before, but 'narrowcloth', 'bays', 'kerseys' and 'shalloons' were all new terms to me, but not, I imagine, to his contemporaries.

Factories are few. Production, be it carding, spinning, weaving, knitting or cheese making, is mostly home based. Defoe was a trader himself for much of his life, so we read of the export markets, and, when he visits the ports, we get a full rundown of which products go where.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The original work is a masterpiece, a gem of a historical document that is lucid in its description and witty in its delivery. My complaint here is with the Kindle edition's text, which is riddled with errors and typos (e.g random punctuation marks inserted; the splitting of words in two etc...). I understand this is a common problem with some eBooks, but in the age of the computer spell-checker it really is inexcusable. I shall continue to buy paper copies until the technology develops to eradicate these problems.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I imagined it to be and a book ... 27 Jun 2014
By Stan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Exactly what I imagined it to be and a book I would never have acquired had it been available only in hard copy. The fact that the book is available so long after its original publication speaks for itself. It would be pointless to discuss content; it is a historic document.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Daniel Defoe - the original Essex wide-boy! ;) 3 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great read even today. Defoe really captures the zeitgeist of early 18th century England. I recommend this to anyone who loves historical guide books!
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