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Daniel Defoe: Master of FictionsHis Life and Works$
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Maximillian E. Novak

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199261543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199261543.001.0001

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Robinson Crusoe and the Variability of Life

Robinson Crusoe and the Variability of Life

(p.535) 23 Robinson Crusoe and the Variability of Life
Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions

Maximillian E. Novak

Oxford University Press

For all the writing that Daniel Defoe had done before the composition of Robinson Crusoe, indeed for all the prose fiction that he had written, Robinson Crusoe must have come to him as almost as wonderful a surprise as it was to his readers. To modern critics, Robinson Crusoe has appeared as an economic parable, a spiritual autobiography, an adventure story, and a fable illustrating human development and education. The problem of interpretation arose almost immediately with Charles Gildon’s forceful critical assault on the work, The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of D[aniel] De F[oe]. The shaping of Robinson Crusoe was, of course, anything but pure inspiration. The most obvious source for the island episode is to be found in well-publicised accounts of a sailor named Alexander Selkirk. Jay Fliegelman has pointed out that Robinson Crusoe was one of the texts revised better to suit readers in a nation that was in the process of throwing off all ties to the parent state.

Keywords:   Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, fiction, adventure, Charles Gildon, Alexander Selkirk, Jay Fliegelman, education

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