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Robinson Crusoe (Sterling Unabridged Classics) Hardcover – 7 Sep 2011
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"Beyond the end of "Robinson Crusoe" is a new world of fiction. Even though it did not know itself to be a 'novel, ' and even though there were books that we might now call 'novels' published before it, "Robinson Crusoe" has made itself into a prototype . . . Perhaps because of all the novels that we have read . . . the novelty of Defoe's fiction is the more striking when we return to it. Here it is, at the beginning of things, with its final word reaching out into the future." -from the Introduction by John Mullan
Beyond the end of "Robinson Crusoe" is a new world of fiction. Even though it did not know itself to be a novel, and even though there were books that we might now call novels published before it, "Robinson Crusoe" has made itself into a prototype . . . Perhaps because of all the novels that we have read . . . the novelty of Defoe s fiction is the more striking when we return to it. Here it is, at the beginning of things, with its final word reaching out into the future. from the Introduction by John Mullan" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The legendary story of a marine adventurer shipwrecked on a desert island --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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I personally always enjoy reading this particular novel, although I would never get on a boat if the name Robinson Crusoe was to appear on the passenger or crew lists. If you wonder why because you have not read this before, then I think in the first few chapters you will get some idea, because although the most famous part of the story is his adventures as a castaway, he also before then gets taken as a slave and has ships that he sails on floundering into trouble.
On first publication this was certainly well received, and it is quite realistic. Written in the first person we read of how Crusoe grew up and wanted a bit of adventure, and even later in the story when we can see that he can clearly settle and take up life running his plantation he does not do so, still craving other experiences.
Although nowadays most people think there is only one influence on this book being written, that of the tale of Alexander Selkirk, if you actually look at the period you will find that there were many tales of very real castaways, along with other sources that were just as likely to be major influences on this tale. Although we read of the trials and tribulations of living what is at the start a very isolated existence there is also a strong undercurrent that runs through this that takes in both religious and philosophical elements. After all as Crusoe points out himself, he has money with him on the island, but of what use is it, as there is no one to buy things from? Such things are raised, which gives this a much greater depth than probably most people realise.
Some have seen in this story the attitude of the Colonists that left these shores to live in for instance America, but on a larger scale than that you can also see how us living in the Western World changed from hunting, to add agriculture and then settling and having to organise more complex matters, after all Crusoe has to divide his time in the right way, with the correct amount of time exerted on different issues, such as growing food as well as hunting for it, and building and maintaining shelter and other such items.
In all this is a well written book that has definitely stood the test of time, and at the basic level we have not altered from when this was first written, thus this still calls to us all, giving us a powerful and thoughtful read.
The character of Robinson Crusoe is deeply unlikeable. His selfish and stubborn actions lead to his adventure. His treatment of other characters is equally deplorable. His materialistic needs leaves little sympathy for his consequences. Armed with a Bible, Crusoe becomes fixated with God – much to the displeasure of anyone wanting to read about an exciting adventure.
The ending was anticlimactic and absurd. It’s like in the final scene of a film when a new adventure is about to start to set up for a sequel. Yet we do not see anything transpire. All that is left is the bewilderment of the ending…and the novel itself. A shortened version with less Biblical references would have improved the story massively.
According to Colin Wilson (in A Criminal History of Mankind) Defoe based the story on the adventures of a Scottish pirate named Alexander Selkirk who, following a quarrel with his pirate captain, asked to be marooned on what was then, one of the uninhabited islands of the Juan Fernandez group about 600 km off the coast of Chile in the South Pacific. After five years Selkirk return to England and became an overnight `celebrity' and Defoe (who began life, in 1660, as Daniel Foe) went to see him in Bristol in 1713 and probably paid for his written reminiscences. The interesting point to note is that Defoe was an agent provocateur and spy, a kind of forerunner to those more recently employed by MI5, and built up a network of spies as well as spending time `inside' and in the pillory!
Why it's interesting, at least to this reader, is that this seems to indicate a certain type of person; i.e. not particularly pious, unlike his fictional creation Robinson Crusoe, who, during his long solitary sojourn on his fictional island, develops, possibly, quite understandably under the circumstances, a distinct religious sensibility and frequently and at length thanks God for providing for him so bounteously. Crusoe reflects on this many times during the book and this is just one example of a degree of repetition that a good editor would surely have remedied.
Nevertheless, this book is a classic for a good reason and provides hours of enjoyment for the patient reader in addition to a great deal of food for thought!
Imagine audio documenting all the happenstance of your average day - swept carpet, washed dishes, went to toilet, etc, etc.
And repeating that for chapter after chapter after chapter after chapter ....
Occasionally adding in a reading from a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet that had come through the door.
That would be equivalent to much of what this offering comprises.
And Tom Casaletto may well be an estimable voice actor in his own milieu, but as a purveyor of an "English" accent and style of reading he is toe-curling.
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