Robinson Crusoe

by Daniel Defoe

This was the book I was challenged to read as a result of the Classics Club Spin #27. I was slightly nervous about it as there are so many bad reviews on Goodreads, and several ‘ho-hum’ reviews in the Classics Club archives. Some complaints are about the archaic language, but as I read lots of classics I quite enjoyed this aspect, and it was originally published in 1719 after all – more than 300 years ago! Though quite slow to start, I did enjoy the book overall. Once Robinson is shipwrecked on the island (which takes quite a while to happen), it is absorbing to read of his inventive and dogged attempts to make a safe home and devise sustainable sources of food, which followed very quickly from his initial despair and hopelessness. I was surprised at the many, many years he stayed alone on the island, and I felt that his paranoia about the possibility of encountering other people was interesting, as most stories about shipwrecked people show them as desperate to attract attention. It was many years before he saw anyone at all, and I did enjoy the section after he first sees a footprint, leading him to further anxiety and manic building of further defences. Once Man Friday becomes part of his life, things move fairly quickly and he moves from being terrified and defensive, to becoming a strong and confident leader. One of the best aspects of the book is Defoe’s ability to demonstrate Crusoe’s character, though this book really only has one character – all the others are very incidental and not really developed at all. As many have mentioned, the end is rather an anticlimax, but overall I enjoyed the book and am glad to have read it.

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