Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (Puffin Classics)Title: Robinson Crusoe

Author: Daniel Defoe

Pages: 273 (I have an abridged version)

Source: Personal library

Rating: 7/10

Summary (From back of book):

After surviving a terrible shipwreck, Robinson Crusoe discovers he is the only human on an island far from any shipping routes or rescue. At first he is devastated, but slowly, with patience and imagination, he transforms his island into a tropical paradise. For twenty-four years he lives with no human companionship -- until one fateful day, when he discovers he is not alone...

My Two Cents:

I can see why this book is considered a classic. It's got a story that, though fairly rooted in a particular time period, allows people in every generation to relate to it. Defoe's writing is also elegant enough and indicative of his time period that it serves as an example of the way books were written for future generations.

The one thing I'm not so sure of, though, is why this book is looked to as an example of the creation of a utopian society. Crusoe's island is utopian for him, sure, because he has ultimate rule and there is no discord unless introduced from the outside. However, with the introduction of Friday, the native who becomes Crusoe's slave (In a way), that utopia is only a utopia for Crusoe. True, Friday willingly puts himself into Crusoe's service for his saving Friday's life, and Crusoe is a fairly benevolent master, but the moment Friday enters the scene, there's disparity and inequality. Crusoe ceases to do a lot of work simply because Friday is there to do it. He becomes an island version of a man of leisure and allows Friday to take everything on his back. This, to me, is not a utopian society.

Short of the small issue with this book being classified as showing a utopian society and my general dislike of Crusoe for allowing Friday to become his servant (He easily could've said no!), I did enjoy this book. I thought it was a great example of how man can survive when he needs to, even if he doesn't seem to have a lot of skill from the outset.


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