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Robinson Crusoe Paperback – Feb 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc (Np); 2nd Revised edition edition (February 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393964523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393964523
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #553,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-As with any abridged version, the story is spare, but what it loses in prose, it gains in readability. The easy-to-understand text keeps some of the flavor of the original, but in condensing 27 chapters and more than 300 pages of narrative to 50-plus pages with half as many chapters, much of the long-winded description has been eliminated. However, the modernized spelling, added dialogue, shortened expository passages, large type, and emphasis on fast-paced storytelling will make this classic accessible to a younger audience. The story ends abruptly with Robinson Crusoe's return to England. None of the adventures after his arrival in his homeland-the discovery of riches at his Brazilian plantation, Friday's encounter with the bear, or the attack by ravenous wolves on the trek to France-are included. Nevertheless, the bare-bones telling, combined with more than a dozen of Wyeth's lavish oil paintings (which originally graced the 1920 edition), makes this a worthwhile purchase.
Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

One of the first novels ever written, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), the classic adventure story of a man marooned on an island for nearly 30 years, is part of our culture. From Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) to the recent movie Castaway, the elemental situation of the person suddenly alone, who must make a life in a dangerous environment, continues to enthrall all ages. Yet few adults, never mind young people, can wade through Defoe's lengthy tome with its convoluted eighteenth-century prose. So here's a shortened storybook version--retold by Timothy Meis in accessible style, yet true to the spirit of the original and the time when it was first published--in a large picture-book format with clear type, high-quality paper, and more than a dozen unforgettable narrative paintings by Wyeth, first published in 1920 and newly reproduced here in glowing color.

The story begins with the universal quest: the young man in Britain, torn between his safe home and his hunger for adventure, breaks away from his loving father and sails away into the unknown. After a series of harrowing escapes, he's shipwrecked on a desert island. His lively first-person account shows how his intelligence and education help him survive for many years, and how he uses technology, including guns and tools salvaged from the ship. He sets up home, reads the Bible, finds a parrot as a pet, and even devises a calendar to keep track of time. Then one day he finds a human footprint: "Was it someone who could save me and take me back to civilization? Or was it a savage who landed here?" When some "savages" arrive in several canoes, he uses his guns to get rid of them, and he rescues one of their captives, a handsome fellow with very dark skin. Delighted to have a companion at last, Crusoe names the newcomer Friday (since Crusoe found him on Friday). Crusoe teaches "my man Friday" to speak English, fire a gun, carve a canoe, and clothe his nakedness, and they live happily together. Later they rescue a white man and Friday's father from a group of "savages," and, eventually, they all return to their homes.

Defoe is said to have based his novel on the true adventures of Alexander Selkirk (who spent four or five years on an island in the South Pacific) and on accounts of other castaways of the time. The survival adventure is still enthralling. But what about the racism? This is clearly the classic colonialist story, but whose history is it? And how will young people read it today? Is it just boring, politically correct nitpicking to object to the use of the word "savages" throughout the book and even on the book flap? Yes, there are some bad guys among the whites, but even they are called "men"; the dark-skinned people are always known as "savages." How do we talk about this story today? The guns and tools make Crusoe boss, but wouldn't Friday have been able to teach the newcomer some survival skills? Does it never occur to Crusoe to learn Friday's own name and language? Who discovered whom? Wyeth's clear, action-packed illustrations are magnificent. But there's one shockingly jarring scene of Friday groveling in gratitude at Crusoe's feet. When the whites say thanks, they embrace each other.

So, no, the objections are not just P. C. sermonizing. The racism is highly offensive. But the fact that the story is so widely known and has such elemental appeal makes this an excellent book for discussion, especially in classes studying the history of exploration and discovery. Louise Erdrich addressed a similar problem [BKL Ap 1 99] when she commented that although she had loved the Little House books as a child, in rereading them as an adult, she was shocked to recognize that "not only was there no consciousness about the displaced people whose land the newcomers were taking, but also that there was a fair amount of racism." Still, she disagrees with censorship of any kind: "The best way is for good teachers and parents to install racism radar detectors so that kids can make their own judgments, because they're going to have to."

Robinson Crusoe is part of the fine Scribner Storybook Classic series that includes The Last of the Mohicans and Robin Hood, all of which bring readers to Wyeth's paintings. Treasure Island will be out later this year. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Craig Stephans on June 8 2004
Format: Paperback
Not only is Robinson Crusoe an extremely well written, entertaining novel, but it was the first of its kind. Defoe's novel is fresh and intriguing today just as it was when written.
Defoe's language reveals classic appreciation of the English language that really appealed to me as a reader. His narrative accounts of adventure, shipwrecks and survival are precise and captivating. this book is made up of many short stories tied together in following the main character. The character grows and matures through his trials and becomes a man worthy of emulation.
Defoe shows brilliant insight into humanity through his writing as his main character challenges nature, savages, and his inner darkness. I enjoyed the spiritual aspects of the book. Any close look at a character such as Crusoe would be lacking if it did not follow his spiritual transformation as well as his physical changes.
There are some brief slow parts interspersed in the book that are more like speedbumps in a great tale that many have tried to imitate but failed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8 2004
Format: Hardcover
By now you know that Robinson Crusoe is a tale of a man shipwrecked on a deserted island. He lives off the land for 20-some years and develops all sorts of survival skills. With that said, here is my review:
My assignment in English class was to choose a book from the Romantic period. There was an abundance of girly stories, so I chose a book that I would feel comfortable reading--Robinson Crusoe.
The book is not terribly long, like other books in this era (Three Musketeers), though it is not a quick read. The book is enjoyable, but it took a lot of sitting down and trying to focus. It was easy to read, probably suitable for 8th graders, but I had trouble getting through the book, especially during the slow parts, and I'm a fast reader.
Robinson Crusoe is filled with religion, which put me off a bit. While I don't want to spoil anything, he allows freedom of religion on his island, but tries to make his Protestant buddy Friday convert to Christianity.
This story is definitely worth reading, especially because at some point you'll probably need to read it for school. It's a fun book, however it has dark moments, and some questionable incidents, such as selling a comrade into slavery. It is one of the better school-books I've read, having suffered through Scarlet Letter and other Puritan literature.
This book has been popular since it was published in the 1700s, an impressive feat. It is clearly a classic novel, and the sketchy scenes were normal back in the Romantic period. Slavery, racism, and no PETA means that this book was written without the limits we see today. Go ahead and read it if you like adventure or the movie Castaway. Four stars for good plot, good character development, bad slow parts, and overkill religious devotion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rehan Yazdani on Nov. 6 2003
Format: Paperback
This critique is on Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. The story is about a young man, Robinson Crusoe, and his journey from a rich life in England to being a mariner and eventually being stranded on a remote island for twenty-eight years. The book is based on the true story of a mariner named Andrew Selkirk, who was also stranded on a remote island for five years. This book is a great example of the realism movement. Defoe talks about real life and its hardships, instead of writing fiction, in which everything is made up and is manipulated at the author's discretion. Defoe is also telling us to believe in ourselves, to have strong willpower, and listen to our parents. I think the novel gives a great insight on reality, and how hard real life is. It makes us think about the hardships of life and gives us the notion that we should explore our talents and have faith; that way we will succeed.
Robinson Crusoe is the son of and English merchant who chooses the life of a mariner rather than become a lawyer as his parents wanted. After going against his parent's whishes and becoming a mariner, Crusoe suffers a number of misfortunes at the hands of Barbary pirates and the elements. Finally Crusoe is shipwrecked off South America. He salvages needful things from the ship, and manages to survive in the island. During his twenty-eight year two months and nineteen days stay, Crusoe finds out the many qualities he possesses. With the help of his innovativeness Crusoe adapts into his alien environment. After several lone years he sees a strange footprint in the sand. The footprint turns out to be that of cannibals and their prisoners. One of the prisoners manages to escape. Crusoe meets the frightened man names Man Friday. Finally an English ship bound to England rescues them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on Feb. 20 2002
Format: Paperback
As a boy growing up in 17th Century England, all Robinson Crusoe wanted to do was be a sailor. His parents tried to dissuade him -- it was a dangerous occupation, and certainly a middle class child like him could find a calling much safer and more comfortable. Naturally, he didn't listen, and essentially ran away from home, finding opportunities to sail on a few ships and encountering a few dangers until he finally reached Brazil, bought a plantation, and looked forward to that comfortable life of prosperity his parents said would be his if he'd only use his head.
But Crusoe is one to push fate. He embarks on a ship bound for Africa to collect slaves, and during a storm in the Caribbean Sea, the ship is wrecked and the crew drowned except for Crusoe, who manages to swim to the shore of a deserted island. Unable to get back to civilization, he salvages as many goods as he can from the wrecked ship and resolves to survive as long as possible in this new, unwelcome habitat.
Crusoe's resourcefulness is astounding. He builds a sophisticated hut/tent/cave complex to live in, hunts goats and fowl, harvests fruit, and figures out how to grow barley, rice, and corn, bake bread, and make earthenware vessels. After living this way for nearly two peaceful decades, Crusoe discovers that savages from a distant island are using his island for their cannibal feasts. He manages to save the life of one of their potential victims, a savage he names Friday, who becomes his faithful servant. With Friday's help, Crusoe realizes he now has a chance to escape the island once and for all and get back to civilization, although his plans don't proceed quite as he envisioned them.
"Robinson Crusoe" is a neatly woven adventure yarn, but under the surface there are several themes.
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