14 May 2012

Crusoe

Who is this handsome fellow with the audacious hairstyle? Why, it's none other than Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), author of  the grround-breaking "Robinson Crusoe", "Moll Flanders" and "A Journal of The Plague Year" which is presumably a horror story set in Canton, Georgia. 

The hero of "Robinson Crusoe" is also the novel's narrator and he was Yorkshire born and bred. If he hadn't been he would surely not have survived the shipwreck and the lonely years he spent on his famous desert island. It is possible that Defoe modelled his hero on seventeenth century sailor Alexander Selkirk who lived alone on an eastern Pacific island for four years before being rescued.

This is the first paragraph of "Robinson Crusoe". Notice that Robinson refers to both Hull and York - the cradles of English civilisation:-
I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterwards at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but, by the usual corruption of words in England, we are now called - nay we call ourselves and write our name - Crusoe; and so my companions always called me.

By Chapter Five, he has arrived at his famous island which he calls his "Island of Despair". This is a feeling with which I can identify for here in Blogland, though I am surrounded by chuntering Burmese servants, the sense of isolation and abandonment has grown upon me like a cancer:-


September 30, 1659. - I, poor miserable Robinson Crusoe, being shipwrecked during a dreadful storm in the offing, came on shore on this dismal, unfortunate island, which I called "The Island of Despair"; all the rest of the ship's company being drowned, and myself almost dead.

Yes, when I see a picture of Robinson Crusoe, it is, metaphorically speaking, like staring into a mirror:-
                          
Oh, and here I am disciplining my pretend Shooting Parrots - "Who's a pretty boy?":-

11 comments:

  1. why was Robinson Crusoe bored? Cos he always had everything done by Friday!

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  2. ARCTIC FOX I also spotted that in the "Paul Daniels Compendium of Jokes".
    EARL GRAY I think you may have contracted Basil Brush Syndrome!

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  3. It would be stretching suspension of disbelief too far to expect an intelligent parrot to ask you 'who's a pretty boy?'

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  4. SHOOTIE Ha! Ha! Actually, the parrot responded, "Not me! Not me!"

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  5. This post borders on the pathetic. Where's your get up and go, Man? Go and contemplate that Mansfield bust and write something inspirational!

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  6. KATHERINE Ms Mansfield's bust may have been her best asset but as a cerebral gentleman, I prefer to focus on nobler matters.

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  7. Isn't 'Robinson Crusoe' technically the first ever novel?

    Amazes me how many Thai kids have read it often being directed there being judged 'a classic'. This is despite one whole chapter being an instructional manual on how to construct a canoe. A canoe that is as dry as the novel itself.

    The art of the novel not being established and the majority of prose being used for pamphleteering and essay writing.

    The printing press for mass production of text not being invented that long before.

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  8. TIMEWASTER-D Thanks for dropping by. And yes, I do believe you are right that "Robinson Crusoe" was a groundbreaking book. It opened the door for fiction. Have you read "Rice Without Rain"?

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  9. Although there were many "novellas" and "romances" long before it appeared on the scene, I was taught (way back in the dark ages) that Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which appeared in nine volumes published between 1759 and 1767, was the first true novel as we now think of them.

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  10. Although there were many "novellas" and "romances" long before it appeared on the scene, I was taught (way back in the dark ages) that Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which appeared in nine volumes published between 1759 and 1767, was the first true novel as we now think of them.

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