• ca. 1659-1661 - 24 April 1731
• one of the earliest proponents of the novel in Britain
• wrote more than 500 books, pamphlets and journals on various topics (including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology and the supernatural)
• a pioneer of economic journalism
The Original Power, 1702
o responding to a pro-Tory book published in 1701
o he defends the rights of the people, saying that the original right to govern lies with the people themselves
Proposals for imploying the poor in and about the City of London, without any charge to the publick
o early 18 century pamphlet, dates from 1713
o Defoe calls for the establishment of a College of Industry in London to help deliver "the Metropolis of the Kingdom from the Incumbrance of the Poor"
The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters: or Proposals for the Establishment of the Church, 1702
o a hoax pamphlet in the guise of a High Church official, using the same vehement rhetoric often used in High Church sermons
o He took what was subtle in these other writings and made it explicit
o The "shortest-way" in the title refers to the writer's wish to completely suppress Nonconformity by extermination.
o Many read the pamphlet literally, especially those whose views were in sympathy with it, and it led many moderate men to commiserate with the Dissenters
o Others thought it satirical a controversy over the real meaning of the work.
o the opinion - the pamphlet had gone too far, that in its extremism it had crossed the line into Sedition a warrant issued for Defoe's arrest
Daniel Defoe in the pillory
• as part of his punishment for writing The Shortest way with Dissenters, Defoe had to stand in the pillory on three days in July 1703
• the author won over the crowd by distributing copies of "A Hymn to the Pillory," a poem declaring the inability of such a punishment to injure an honest man - his reputation as a hero of the common people grew
Defoe's Review ,1704-1713
• it was not the first English periodical, but it was the first to engage a particular political topic: the relationship between England and France
o England's relationship to France in this period is tenuous
• The Review's original title is A Review of the Affairs of France.
• Defoe's periodical essays put forth the Protestant Whig position
• In later editions of the Review Defoe focuses his attention on the emergent political economy.
• it played a significant role in the birth of the modern press
• It was not a newspaper dealing in facts but a journal of opinion and discussion
• Along with politics, war, trade and religion, Defoe's Review tapped into a new cultural community, helping to create the climate for Steele and Addison to develop the Tatler and Spectator in later years
The Family Instructor, 1715
o an immensely successful conduct manual on religious duty
o Robinson Crusoe is filled with religious aspects. Defoe was a Puritan moralist and normally worked in the guide tradition, writing books on how to be a good Puritan Christian
published on April, 25, 1719
ROBINSON CRUSOE , 1719
• the original title as it appears on the title page of the first edition is:
The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un‐inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates
• the Impact of Robinson Crusoe
o The book was published on April 25, 1719. Before the end of the year, this first volume had run through four editions. Within years, it had reached an audience as wide as any book ever written in English and was more well-known to non-English people in the 19th century than any work of Shakespeare's.
o By the end of the 19th century, no book in the history of Western literature had had more editions, spin-offs and translations (even into languages such as Inuit, Coptic and Maltese) than Robinson Crusoe, with more than 700 such alternative versions, including children's versions with mainly pictures and no text.
o The term "Robinsonade" was coined to describe the genre of stories similar to Robinson Crusoe.
• translations: Italian - 1720, Dutch - 1720, Arabic - 1835 (one of the first Western novels to be translated), Maori - 1852
The Life and Adventures of Alexander Selkirk, the Real Robinson Crusoe, 1835
o There were many stories of real-life castaways in Defoe's time.
o Defoe's initial inspiration for Crusoe is usually thought to be a Scottish sailor named Alexander Selkirk, who was rescued in 1709 after four years on the uninhabited island off the Chilean coast.
o "Cruising Voyage" was published in 1712, with an account of Alexander Selkirk's ordeal.
The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come, 1678
o a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan and published in 1678
o one of the most significant works of religious English literature and has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, or The Brief Relation of the Exceeding Mercy of God in Christ to his Poor Servant John Bunyan
o a Puritan spiritual autobiography written by John Bunyan
o It was written while Bunyan was serving a twelve-year prison sentence in Bedford gaol for preaching without a license and was first published in 1666.
Robinson Crusoe as exemplary figure of the "Protestant Work Ethic"
o The kinds of puritan religious guides that Defoe himself authored frequently emphasized issues that we can see emerging in novelistic form in Robinson Crusoe:
warnings about idleness as a threat to both individual self-realization, concern about the ethical dangers of leisure, recreation, and play
insistence that continual self-examination gave individuals a means of emotional and social, as well as spiritual fulfillment
o Robinson Crusoe is famous for its promotion of human effort, especially in the first hundred pages, offering a constant refrain of Crusoe's "great Pain, and Difficulty", "great Labour and Difficulty", "a great deal of Time, and Labour", "very laborious and tedious Work", and so on.
o Crusoe's calculations of man hours and intense effort are so numerous that modern Defoe scholarship has often linked Crusoe's work obsession with the Protestant work ethic that Max Weber famously identified as a harbinger and spirit of modern capitalism.
KARL MARX AND ROBINSON CRUSOE as Homo Economicus
o Karl Marx, in Das Kapital (1867), uses Robinson Crusoe as a favorable example of the pre-capitalist man producing goods because they are useful and producing only as much as is useful to him and not seeking a profit.
Robison Crusoe as Middle Class hero
o "That this was the state of life which all other people envied; that kings have frequently lamented the miserable consequence of being born to great things, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this, as the standard of felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty nor riches."
Crusoe as imperialist-conqueror
o For James Joyce, Robinson Crusoe prefigured English imperialism
o He is the true prototype of the British colonist, as Friday (the trusty slave who arrives on an unlucky day) is the symbol of the subject races. The whole Anglo-Saxon spirit is in Crusoe: the manly independence; the unconscious cruelty; the persistence; the slow yet efficient intelligence; the sexual apathy; the practical, well-balanced religiousness; the calculating taciturnity."
o Friday in the tradition of THE NOBLE SAVAGE
Crusoe also wrestles with the problem of cultural relativism
o the dilemma of savages eating other people - Is it a sin or not when they do not perceive it as something bad? We do not have the right to judge them or even impose a sentence upon them.
Colonialism, Racism and the Slave Trade in Robinson Crusoe
o Friday as a slave-for-life
o Crusoe represents the 'enlightened' European whilst Friday is the 'savage' who can only be redeemed from his barbarous way of life through assimilation into Crusoe's culture.
o The buying and selling of human cargo is a feature of colonialism. That Crusoe is able to part with Xury as easily as he is, demonstrates that he is a man making a place for himself in the economy of slavery. The money that Crusoe makes by selling Xury enables him to set up a plantation in Brazil. As a landowner, he has status and position. The sign of this achievement comes when his fellow planters are willing to trust him to trade on the African coast for slaves that he will bring back and share with them. Crusoe embarks as a trader in slaves even before he captures Friday.
Crusoe as King, Colonial Governor, Military Commander
o "how like a king I look'd. First of all, the whole country was my own meer property", "I was absolute lord and law-giver", "generalissimo"
Isolation and Spiritual Introspection in the Novel
o The novel's characteristic emphasis on subjectivity, the novel has always communicated a terrible sense of isolation and articulated dramatically the breakdown of the relationships between individuals
o Ian Watt suggests that Robinson Crusoe functioned as an allegory of increasing social isolation and loss of older forms of affiliation emblematic of the forms of emerging middle class capitalist society. The island castaway thus becomes something deeply allegorical about modern existence and its alienations.
Women in Robinson Crusoe
o "Women have only one important role to play [in Robinson Crusoe], and that is economic.
The Swiss Family Robinson
o a German novel, first published in 1812, about a Swiss family who are shipwrecked in the East Indies.
o Written by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss, and edited by his son Johann Rudolf Wyss, the novel was intended to teach his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. Wyss's attitude towards education is in line with the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and many of the episodes have to do with Christian-oriented moral lessons (frugality, husbandry, resignation, co-operation, etc). The adventures are presented as a series of lessons in natural history and the physical sciences and resemble other similar educational books for children in this period.
• J. Paul Hunter, Didacticism and the Eighteenth-Century Novel on Robinson
o "Defoe himself proceeds unabashedly to instruct. . . . [H]e wants to affect his society, even straighten it out. . . ."
o Didacticism "involves a powerful sense of good and evil, leading to plain, binary, and dogmatic distinctions and choices." "[D]idacticism has to do with . . . faith in language to affect the behavior of readers in rational and predictable ways. Didactic texts are still anchored in a tradition of plain speaking that was supposed to reflect sincerity of character, honesty of commitment, and clarity of values."
The Influence of Booksellers in shaping 18th Century Literature
o [R]emoving literature from the control of patronage and bringing it under the control of the market-place made possible the remarkable independence of Defoe and Richardson from the classical critical tradition which was an indispensable condition of their literary achievement.
o The power of the booksellers to influence authors and audience was undoubtedly very great, and it is therefore . . . connected with the rise of the novel. This view was expressed most succinctly by Defoe, in 1725: 'Writing . . . is become a very considerable Branch of the English Commerce. The Booksellers are the Master Manufacturers or Employers. The several Writers, Authors, Copyers, Sub-writers, and all other Operators with Pen and Ink are the workmen employed by the said Master Manufacturers'"
James Lackington, 18th Century Bookseller Extraordinaire
the most successful bookseller of the 18th century
his legendary shop at Finsbury Square in London was named "The Temple of the Muses"
Lackington revolutionized the book trade by becoming the first bookseller to refuse to sell books on credit. His cash only approach allowed him to offer books less expensively. Lackington also refused to destroy or discard remaindered books and instead sold them at bargain prices for Lackington firmly believed "that books were the key to knowledge, reason and happiness and that everyone, no matter their economic background, social class or gender, had the right to access books at cheap prices."