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Robinson Crusoe [Paperback]

Daniel Defoe , Avi
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Review

"Evan Davis has done an excellent job of bringing together many of the strands of thought that Defoe put into The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe—his interests in travel, economics, religion, and the experience of solitude—and putting them into an attractive format. Professor Davis supplies examples of texts on related topics such as solitude, cannibalism, and castaway narratives, along with a group of wonderful illustrations, including a large number of Crusoe and Friday, showing everything from the sympathetic and helpful Crusoe to Crusoe the colonialist and exploiter. These are well chosen to make points about the ways in which Crusoe fits into the interests of post-colonial criticism. Professor Davis is also very good in his introduction on the ambiguity with which Crusoe treats Friday. Is he a friend, a servant, or a slave? Or all three? This will be a useful and indeed an exciting text for students at all levels." (Maximillian E. Novak)

"This edition greatly enriches the reader's appreciation of Robinson Crusoe both as a classic that transcends its historical origins and as a text that reflects a specific historical context. In each role, the novel can be viewed from many perspectives, ranging from those embodied in other writings by Defoe and his contemporaries to later ideas about psychology, economics, religion, and post-colonialism, and the introduction and appendices give the reader access to an extraordinarily copious array of these perspectives. The introduction, moreover, goes well beyond compiling viewpoints: while elegantly marshaling information, Evan R. Davis also contests received opinion and offers fresh insights. This is an extremely useful edition for students, general readers, and even those already well-acquainted with Defoe." (Oscar Kenshur) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

one map --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Robinson Crusoe is one of the most famous literary characters in history, and his story has spawned hundreds of retellings. Inspired by the life of Alexander Selkirk, a sailor who lived for several years on a Pacific island, the novel tells the story of Crusoe's survival after shipwreck on an island, interaction with the mainland's native inhabitants, and eventual rescue. Read variously as economic fable, religious allegory, or imperialist fantasy, Crusoe has never lost its appeal as one of the most compelling adventure stories of all time. In addition to an introduction and helpful notes, this Broadview Edition includes a wide range of appendices that situate Defoe's 1719 novel amidst castaway narratives, economic treatises, reports of cannibalism, explorations of solitude, and Defoe's own writings on slavery and the African trade. A final appendix presents images of Crusoe's rescue of Friday from a dozen of the most significant illustrated editions of the novel published between 1719 and 1920. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Daniel Defoe (1659–1661) was an English writer and journalist most widely known for his novel Robinson Crusoe, originally published in 1719. His work varied from political pamphlets to poetry, and included other novels such as Religious Courtship and The Political History of the Devil. He lived in London, England.

Avi is the author of more than fifty books for children and young adults, including the 2003 Newbery medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. He has won two Newbery Honors and many other awards for his fiction. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado. Visit him at Avi-Writer.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From L. J. Swingle's Introduction to Robinson Crusoe

People who have never actually read Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe often think of it as a children's book. It is a tale, so they suppose, that belongs on the shelf upstairs in the playroom alongside Lassie, the Hardy Boys books, and Charlotte's Web. But to discover the fallacy of this notion we need only sit down with a child and start trying to read the book. Reading Robinson Crusoe to a child usually turns out to be a different, somewhat less amiable adventure than telling the child about Robinson Crusoe in our own words. The child can eagerly attend to our retelling of the Crusoe story, relatively inept storytellers though we may be. The experiences of a man shipwrecked alone on a desert island-his initial fears, his efforts to escape, his struggle to secure food and shelter, his discovery of a footprint in the sand-all these things take powerful hold on a child's imagination. But if plunged into Defoe's original narrative of Crusoe's experiences, a child immediately senses that the waters of storytelling have suddenly gotten uncomfortably deep, that the exciting shallows of the story as Mom or Dad would tell it at bedtime have been left behind, that many things going on around the margins of the adventure story in Defoe's book are not attractively adventurous. How can a person possibly wade through this strange book that pretends to be Robinson Crusoe? Some sort of incomprehensible adult trickery must be going on here.

Published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe is a novel for grown-up minds that has been kidnapped for, though obviously not by, the kids. In this respect it's interestingly akin to another supposed children's book that would be published midway into the next century, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Like Crusoe, Alice presents us with the story of a person transported from our own familiar world into foreign territory that offers opportunity for exciting adventure, obviously, but also for an encounter with some complex intellectual issues. A child, responding eagerly to the adventure but brought up short by the intellectual issues, is likely to sense immediately that neither Crusoe nor Alice is a book for the playroom. Both belong in the library downstairs, where adults retreat to contemplate the shadowy mysteries of their own minds and experience.

Once we adults rescue Robinson Crusoe from the playroom and begin thinking about its significance for ourselves, it is helpful to consider some things we might expect to find in the novel that either do not appear there at all or that appear in unfamiliar forms. Writing Robinson Crusoe in the early years of the eighteenth century, Defoe reveals himself to be in several important respects not quite of our mind. True, he's an intellectual precursor of the modern mind and, as such, some aspects of his basic interests and values are relatively close to our own. Rudiments of the Crusoe story exert considerable contemporary popular appeal, and not just to small children. Many movie adaptations have been made of the story. In the last few years alone, for example, we've had Aidan Quinn play Crusoe in a 1988 film of that name; we've had Pierce Brosnan, of James Bond fame, play Crusoe in the 1996 Robinson Crusoe; we've had Tom Hanks play a rather interesting loose translation of Crusoe as a plane-wrecked Federal Express man in the 2000 film Cast Away. The name "Robinson Crusoe" itself has entered the public domain; like "Gatsby," "Tarzan," "Superman," and "Mickey Mouse," it has become a useful shorthand term in contemporary popular thought, meaningful to people who have never encountered the literary source.

But if we go back to the novel Robinson Crusoe and see what Defoe made of the story in 1719, we run into some intriguing basic differences from common inclinations of thought in more recent centuries. These differences constitute an important part of what makes Robinson Crusoe not simply entertaining-occasionally almost more puzzling, or even more irritating than entertaining-but thereby greatly worth reading for the mind's sake.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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