“Oh, what ridiculous resolution men take when possessed with fear! It deprives them of the use of those means which reason offers for their relief.”
-Daniel Defoe, p.134, Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is often regarded as the first novel written in the English language. Also regarded as the most influential adventure story ever written, it has influenced famous authors such as H.G. Wells, Jonathan Swift, Jules Verne, and Lord Byron. Defoe’s magnum opus about shipwreck and survival on a remote island has and continues to inspire numerous castaway survival stories. Defoe even incorporated hordes of Christian allusions to create a powerful religious theme; moreover, Robinson Crusoe serves as a metaphor for how to govern one’s life.
The story centers around a young man named Robinson Crusoe (hence the title) who, against his parents’ wishes, goes to sea. His first voyage yields disastrous results after a titanic storm almost kills him and the crew of his ship. Nonetheless, he embarks on a second voyage, which is very profitably successful. He establishes plantations in Brazil and embarks on yet a third voyage. This voyage yields even more calamitous results than the first, for Moorish pirates attack his ship and enslave Crusoe and his ship’s crew members. He is eventually able to escape and returns to England, only to embark, unsurprisingly, on a fourth voyage. It is in this voyage that Crusoe gets shipwrecked on a remote island. Forced to conquer self-pity and hopelessness, Crusoe excruciatingly learns how to domesticate animals, make pottery, and construct a house.
Robinson Crusoe, as aforementioned, is a metaphor for how to govern one’s life. The religious theme exists because Crusoe learned to trust in God and thank Him for everything. Initially, Crusoe took everything for granted and never considered the odds of his current situation as a castaway. As Crusoe later confesses, he was never grateful for anything prior his shipwreck. Applying this religious metaphor in real life, one should not take anything for granted, and should always be grateful that they’re not in a worse situation.
Reading Robinson Crusoe will transport you into the perils and adventures of being a castaway. The seemingly outmoded terms and biblical verses are well elucidated in the Barnes and Noble Classics edition. In addition, this edition provides a good introduction by discussing the influences of Robinson Crusoe in other works of literature. Overall, this edition is solid.