The Classics Club: Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

My result for The Classics Club’s last wonderful Spin feature was Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I can’t say I was pleased or displeased with this choice as I have neither been excited about or dreading reading Robinson Crusoe. This did at least give me a push to finally pick up it up though.

Robinson Crusoe follows Robinson an Englishman who defies his parents wishes to embark on a life on the sea as a merchant which will have varying degrees of success. On his first trip Robinson is successful but then greed leads him into another journey that leads him into being captured and enslaved, escaping that he becomes a plantation owner, and he then finally tries to turn slaver himself. On his journey from South America to Africa his ships flounders and Robinson is left the sole survivor on a tropical island. With only the ship’s dog and cat for company Robinson must eek out a life on this island learning to hunt, build, farm and bake as he goes along. He will also have plenty of time to reflect on his past conduct, search his soul and find faith in God but always in the back of his mind his has ideas of how to escape this island of purgatory.

The only character you really get to know in Robinson Crusoe is Robinson himself seeing as he’s trapped on an island and the tale is told from his perspective. At the beginning of the novel I found Robinson arrogant and rather naïve. As he begins his life on the sea and as a plantation owner I disliked Robinson he came across as ambitious and a little foolish seeming to happen upon fortune rather than having worked for it. Then Robinson tries to turn slaver after having suffered being a slave himself! I think he is right when he believes that God leaves him the sole survivor of his ship on the island; and I also think he rather deserves it. Don’t think me too harsh though because I do believe Robinson’s time on the island changes him for the better. He learns to become hardworking, logical and learns to plan ahead rather than rushing foolishly into things. His faith also helps to make him a more grounded and grateful human being, although he can still be a little arrogant and foolish at times.

Robinson Crusoe is the first novel I have read by Daniel Defoe. I am pleased that The Classic Club Spin chose this book for me because I think it would have taken a long time for me to pick it up of my own steam. I found Robinson Crusoe to be well written with a personal style as the tale is told from Robinson’s perspective at first in a novel style and then in a diary entry style. Sadly I found the switch between the two styles a little awkward though and the switch also caused some information and events to be repeated. I preferred the diary entry style and as this was used for Robinson’s time on the island which is the majority of the novel this was preferable to me. I found the description of Robinson’s adventures, feelings and the island itself believable and adequate but I would have preferred just a bit more detail especially of the island as I didn’t ever truly feel I could picture it. The pace of the novel was quicker at first and then slowed down for Robinson’s time on the island a change which I again preferred. I found the solitary, repetitive and methodical diary entries rather comforting.

Robinson Crusoe is a classic tale of adventure and isolation with a moral twist. I recommend to those interested in reading the Classics. This is my 23rd read off my Classics Club list. Good read.

Have you read this?

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10 thoughts on “The Classics Club: Robinson Crusoe

  1. My dad read this to me when I was pretty young, and it’s mostly gone vague…except I remember it as pretty slow for my taste! On the other hand, I was young–and I do enjoy castaway stories–so I might have to look at it again some time!

  2. That’s what I like about the Classics Club – it gives me the impetus to finally read books that I probably would have forever put off reading. I remember reading an article about the real person that inspired Defoe to write the novel. Alexander Selkirk was marooned on a Pacific island in 1702 and was stuck there for four years. He apparently wasn’t the nicest person, but I was intrigued by this biographical detail: apparently, after he returned to Scotland he had a hard time adjusting and would sometimes go stay in a cave on the Scottish coast.

    1. Christy I had heard rumours this had been based on a real man. Robinson does have a little difficulty settling back in England too no living in caves though. Also Selkirk only had to endure 4 years poor Robinson is there a lot longer!

  3. Have you ever read Swiss Family Robinson? A family gets stranded on a deserted island and has to learn to survive. I think you might like it. I recall it having strong themes of faith as well.

    1. Amanda I have seen part of a film adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson but I haven’t read the novel. Sounds like I would enjoy it though not sure why I didn’t think of it when I made my Classics Club list.

  4. This book isn’t on my Classics Club list but you’ve made it sound interesting so I might decide to try it at some point anyway. Diary entries sound like the perfect style for this type of story.

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