on 6 September 2010
Why? Well, simply, you get both Robinson Crusoe and the Futher Adventures of Robinson Crusoe bound together. Bargain!
Now, Robinson Crusoe is well known. it is regarded as one of the first modern English language novels. Perhaps more surprisingly it still reads very well. Yes, Defoe writes longer sentences than we are used to in novels. Yes, it does sometimes seem a bit clumsy being written in the first person. But, his accounts of Crusoe's adventures are remarkable page turners. How will his meetings with the cannibals turn out? What will happen when he and Friday attack another cannibal party?
We are also familiar with Robinson Crusoe as a childrens' story. No doubt they will enjoy it but it usually comes to them Disneyfied. The original novel is certainly aimed as adults who can appreciate the bigger points being made behind the action-adventure. What are those points? Defoe sets up Crusoe's central character flaw at the beginning. Forgetting his Father's biblical injunctions to seek a middle station in life (give me neither poverty nor riches) Crusoe is always restless and wants to see more of the world. And so, nearly every travel will plunge him into disaster. The resolution of these problems comes when he finds and reads a Bible, humbles himself before God and accepts Christ as his Saviour. It is noteworthy that this evangelical fevour spills over to Man Friday who converts to Protestant Christianity under Crusoe's tutelage.
What of the second volume? We find out what happened to Crusoe's island in his absence, which he sends provisions to so that it almost becomes an Eden. Yet Crusoe ends an absentee and somewhat neglectful monarch of his realm. Defoe's ecumenical spirit is seen with a Roman Catholic priest being available to stir Crusoe's conscience to provide marriage for his islanders and to instruct them, English and native, in the ways of God. Before getting too carried away with his ecumenism it should be noted that the priest is praiseworthy precisely because his beliefs approximate to Protestantism! Further, the only conversion recorded is very much in a Puritan, rather than a Roman Catholic, fashion.
So buy this version, and pray that you too may be satisfied with a middling life!
on 8 September 2008
I was really pleasently surprised with this book. I didn't know much more about it than man lands on island and has to survive... The book is broken up into four sections (though unfortunately not through the use of chapters, which would have been nice): Pre-island, Island pre-Friday, Island post-Friday and then after Island. The first three sections are amazing, especially the second part. I thought his attitude of 'I need something, I'm going to learn how to do it and then perfect it' was really inspirational and was a fascinating read.
The mood changes when he discovers a foot print on the otherside of the Island and his paranoia builds and builds - there's a real sense that the relatively free-living he had enjoyed before is over. The third section in which he saves Friday and then defeats the Savages is pretty exciting stuff and despite his initial attitude towards Friday it is enjoyable that the savage (as Crusoe continually calls him) is so much more open minded and willing to learn new things rather than fear them.
Once Crusoe does eventually get off the Island the book loses much of what made it exciting and so the end feels a bit dull by comparison, though it's nice to see he visits the Island again. I'm not sure whether I missed something but I felt a bit let down not to get an update on the whereabouts or some obvious mention of what happened to Friday after they made it back to England.
I enjoyed it mostly for the adventure and inventiveness of the character but it got a bit frustrating at times as was fairly repetative in places and there were certain sections which felt a bit like being hit in the face with a massive bible. Crusoe's character isn't really the most likeable of fellows (especially by today's standards) but I quite like that in the books I read.
Oh and look at the price! Best thing I can remember buying for under £2.
on 25 November 2013
I last read this about 50 years ago and saw an adaptation of it on TV a couple years ago and felt I would like to read the novel again and I think I enjoyed it even more than when I read it all that time ago.
on 12 June 2013
Don't really know what I can add, my comments feel insignificant against such a great work. The ultimate book about isolation and self sufficiency I love it and it is one I continue to go back to. Fantastic descriptions and wonderful sense of place makes this one of the true all time greats. Daniel Defoe transports the reader to a fabulous world and then fills it with great set pieces. A book everybody should read.
This book was probably the first true novel, in the modern sense, published in the English language (1719). Much of the book details Crusoe's attempts to survive on his island, with quite detailed accountants of his efforts to grow crops, domesticate goats and make cooking utensils and other tools. Although this may sound quite dull, the writing style for the most part pulled me through. The narrative is quite positive and Crusoe comes to adopt a positive mental attitude by counting his blessings in terms of the articles he salvages from the shipwreck, the fact that the hulk is still accessible, and that there are no wild animals on his island. This is of course the original cannibal savages v. civilised white Anglo Saxon story, now a racist cliche, but then a worldview that all the book's readers would surely have shared nearly three centuries ago. Finally, I think the narrative should have ended when he came back to England, but instead there is a longish section on his property and financial arrangements and his fighting wolves in France, that seemed to lack a clear purpose.
on 22 August 2015
A bit dated and language a bit difficult for 6-8 years old otherwise good
on 25 February 2011
A REVIEW OF `ROBINSON CRUSOE' BY DANIEL DEFOE
Almost three centuries have passed since `Robinson Crusoe' was first published in 1719. In that time, the novel has arguably become a victim of its own success. So many times has the tale been told and re-told, that we all seem to assume that we know the story* and therefore neglect the original novel itself. In short, `Robinson Crusoe' has become immortalised by being condensed into a simplistic plot summary: "The book about the man who gets stranded on a desert island." This over-simplification has been intensified by the countless other `classic' novels which have been heavily influenced by `Robinson Crusoe'. These include, Johan Weiss's `Swiss Family Robinson' (1812), R. M. Ballantyne's `The Coral Island' (1857), Jules Verne's `The Mysterious Island' (1874), and R. L. Stevenson's `Treasure Island' (1883) to name but a few. In more recent years, the film `Castaway' and television's `LOST' have dealt with the book's central theme. Even the great Laurel & Hardy got in on the act in 1951 with their final film, `Atoll K', which was released under various titles including 'Robinson Crusoe Land'. In fact, so familiar have we become with the premise of `Robinson Crusoe', that we risk losing sight of what a truly great and relevant book it is.
* For the purposes of this review, I have deliberately avoided telling the story where possible.
In his 2011 BBC Television series devoted to seminal fictional characters, Sebastian Faulks chose to begin with none other than RC. Perhaps the greatest appeal of the character is his humility (The story is narrated in the first-person and Crusoe's tone throughout is highly self-critical.) and resourcefulness. During his remarkable 28 years on the island, Crusoe drags himself from the depths of despair and self-pity to create a surprisingly convincing solitary way of life, which reveals real ingenuity and creativity in terms of setting up his home(s) and sustainable lifestyle. Many of the novel's key themes still resonate today. Crusoe's existence in many ways smacks of `The Good Life' and raises the question, "How much does man really need to be happy?" As the novel progresses, our hero's discovery of a solitary footprint in the sand leads to wild speculation about its owner, leading him to swing from optimistic highs to pessimistic lows. The dizzying analysis echoes the media-frenzies of the 21st century which inevitably follow any `major' event which shakes the status-quo.
Perhaps the greatest misconception about `Robinson Crusoe' is that it is a children's book. This view owes much to its simplistic retellings. However, the story deals with a range of `big' issues, including religious faith, colonialism and cannibalism. In fact, within its pages, there is some pretty strong violence (albeit described with 18th century reserve).
Of course, not everything about a 300-year-old novel still rings true. To the reader used to 21st century prose, Defoe's written style takes a little getting used to. Similarly, the actual action set-pieces of the story are rather top and bottom heavy, coming thick-and-fast at the story's beginning and end. Indeed, it does rather stretch credibility to accept that for almost two decades not a soul should appear on Crusoe's island, given that, by the novel's conclusion, it (almost) resembles Southampton docks with all of its comings and goings! However, perhaps the most unbelievable aspect of the tale if the hero's lack of concern about any human company for such a protracted period of time, especially that of the opposite sex.
Nevertheless, despite some inevitably creaky joints, `Robinson Crusoe' deserves to be dusted of and read as a novel in its own right. Among its surprises, `Robinson Crusoe' saves the biggest until last. The story ends with our hero stating that he will recount more of his experiences at a later date, which explains the publication in 1720 of Defoe's `Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe'. Now how many of us who think that they know the book knew of this sequel?
Yes, by virtue of its own appeal, the essential premise of `Robinson Crusoe' has been regurgitated countless times over the years. However, for those who enjoy the `classics' or for those who like to genuinely escape into a book, `Robinson Crusoe' still has much to make the modern reader want to cut all ties with the modern world and drift away...
Barty's Score: 8.5/10
Robinson Crusoe: the timelessly romanticised story that exists in our minds of the man marooned on the desert island, and the inventiveness and ingenuity with which he manages to exist there for "eight-and-twenty years, two months, and nineteen days".
Story wise: When Crusoe is newly marooned and salvages all manner of goods from the shipwrecked vessel, and the first years when the narrative is concerned with how he provides himself with food and shelter and a semblance of normal life, are for me the most interesting parts of the novel. The appearance of the cannibals and Friday add excitement, just as the story might otherwise be expected to flag. Finally, a quelled mutiny maintains the pace almost to the end. I admit to a great impatience at the opening chapters that detail Crusoe's early adventures at sea, and the final chapters that tie up the loose ends.
Literature wise: First published in 1719 when Defoe was 60 years old, Robinson Crusoe is considered to be one of the first novels written in the English language, which makes it worth reading for any devotee of literature. The novel also finds Crusoe wrestling with religion, cultural relativism, colonialism etc.
Problem wise: The novel is dry, devoid of much in the way of emotion, particularly from Crusoe. Contemporary readers will cringe at the title of the chapter - "I call him Friday" - and much of the interaction between "master" and "slave"; post colonialist theorists have a field-day with the novel in this respect. James Joyce sums up much of the novel itself in his description of Robinson Crusoe, the man, as embodying the "British colonist", and exhibiting: "... manly independence, ... unconscious cruelty, ... persistence, ... slow yet efficient intelligence, ... sexual apathy, ... calculating taciturnity".
The Penguin Popular Classics edition lacks an introduction, and notes, which makes it OK as a cheap read, but not particularly helpful, though it does contain a little biography of the author.
on 19 August 2008
We all know about Robinson Crusoe, or at least we think we do. We know about the shipwreck and the years alone on the island and the footprint in the sand and "Man Friday".
Reading the book for the first time, after years of receiving it via the TV and the cinema, in heavily abridged or heavily revised versions, I was amazed to discover how much more there is to find.
The first joy is Defoe's prose, written with all the urgency and precision of a lifelong pamphleteer. Defoe never leaves any doubt as to what his character is trying to say or why he is trying to say it.
The second joy is the pacing. In the brief sections before and after his time on the island, Crusoe undergoes multiple shipwrecks, capture by pirates, escape from slavery, the life of a Brazilian plantation owner, the putting down of a mutiny and even an attack by wolves. Any one of these events could serve quite happily as the climax of another story. As it is, the only time the pace slows is during Crusoe's sojourn on the island and that is only appropriate to his condition.
The greatest joy of the book, though, is Crusoe himself. This is a very real character with very real failings. He is frequently arrogant, unthinking or even plain stupid but wins us over with the good grace with which he admits his faults. One minute he is praising the quality of his newly baked pots, the next laughing at himself for spending months on building a canoe too large and too far from shore for him ever to be able to drag it to the sea. All the while he struggles to give some meaning to his isolation, a meaning he chooses to find in his own vision of God (a God that, by remarkable coincidence, exactly mirrors Defoe's own, nonconformist vision of his Almighty). It's not an endeavour of which Richard Dawkins - or indeed I - would necessarily approve but it's certainly one appropriate to Crusoe's time and personality.
Robinson Crusoe has been analysed as a prototypical text of British imperialism, a moral text, a religious text and even a Marxist text. It has drawn the attention of Rousseau, Wilkie Collins, Coetzee and Joyce among thousands of others. Having read it, one suddenly sees why. The only thing it lacks is the wonderful theme music from the 1960s TV series.
on 9 March 2013
An excellent book but he antiquated use of language can make reading parts of the book a chore. Still a compelling read and a book I would still give to my children and grandchildren. An adventure and not a computer in sight. Its Great