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3.7 out of 5 stars
Robinson Crusoe
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2004
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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on January 21, 2003
After reading Glyn Williams' trenchant 'The Prize Of All The Oceans' I had an overwhelming desire to read this classic once again. I first read it when I was a mere 10 year old and it completely mesmerized me; I find that it still held the same power over me thirty years later. It is difficult to put this tale down once the title character becomes a castaway on the "island of despair" (as Crusoe refers to it) and he begins the battle against the odds to survive. Facing extreme tropical heat, torrential storms, a dreadful loneliness and the struggle to master some of the simplest of skills we take for granted Crusoe wages his one-man crusade for survival. Beginning his desolate existence steeped in woeful self-pity he slowly realizes through a series of trying circumstances, devotional reading of the Bible and finally relief from his isolated state that the experience proves to be one of reverie. In the process Crusoe becomes quite possibly the most inspirational figure to spring forth from the pages of literature.
Though it is annually listed by literature scholars as one of the 100 finest works of fiction, today primarily adolescents read Defoe's enduring tale as part of their required reading for school; very few others rarely bother with this nearly three century old tale. 'Robinson Crusoe' it seems is a classic awaiting a renaissance of rediscovery by adults who regularly read for either leisure or as a part of continuing education. While the novel's approach to morality may seem a bit old fashioned by today's contemporary standards, the character's awakening to wisdom, inner strength and faith will inspire any reader of any age. Crusoe's ability to steel himself against the onslaught of natural elements, his own self doubts and finally a band of savages who discover his "island empire" should win over even the most jaded of us. This Norton Critical Edition is the perfect package to gain a deep appreciation for this masterpiece of the English language. So do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book today and transport yourself back to your youth and also to a time long past. It's a journey you won't regret taking.
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on September 16, 2002
One of the best works of fiction I've read. I listened to this work unabridged and the narrator's tone and cadence were excellent. The narrative in the novel was very easy to follow as the majority of the book involves thoughts of Crusoe and very little dialogue. This is where its similarity with the movie "Cast Away" ends. It's an enduring story not for its Swiss Family Robinson detail but for its character development. Defoe does an excellent job of writing the impetuous, self-reproaching, humbling, ambitious and regretful thoughts of Crusoe.
The reflections and insights Crusoe contemplates while on and then later off the island provide an insightful template on how experience turns from foolish trial and error to wisdom. For example:
How frequently in the course of our lives, the evil which in itself we seek most to shun, and which when we are fallen into it is the most dreadful to us, is often times the very means or door of our deliverance by which alone we can be raised again from the affliction we are fallen into.
We are rarely cast into any condition of life so low or any misery so great but we may see something or other to be thankful for and may see others in worse circumstances than our own.
A few reviewers have criticized the book for its approbation of Robinson Crusoe's irresponsible behavior: he disobeyed his parents, pursued deplorable occupations (by today's standards), held racist attitudes and was cruel to animals. Yet it is just this behavior which is the strength of Crusoe as a character-he is the quintessential human---irresponsible, fallible, cowardly but not incorrigible.
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on April 15, 2002
This story is about the adventurer who gets stranded on the island. His name is Robinson Crusoe. He was born in the city of York in the north of England. His father is German and mother is British. He has a very large dream, which is leaving far away from his home and goes on journey by the ship. Then his story has started.
First, Robinson gets the ship by other people�fs cooperation, gather the shipmate, and start the journey. During the journey his ship is caught in a storm, and be arrested by a pirate ship. Then he arrives in an uninhabited island coincidentally. He lives alone and has a hard time. Next, he meets the man who arrived in this island accidentally too. He calls this man Friday because they met each other on Friday. Later they fight with cruel foreigner and win the battle. Finally they can be able to go back home and live happily.
This story makes the other people who want to venture once in a lifetime be able to have the adventurous spirit. Especially to boys because they have adventurous dreams, I think. They think that to leave far away from home can make their own story. However this dream is very hard to make it happen because it is very difficult to live without family. This means people cannot live without anybody�fs help. On the other hand if they once have a chance to be able to read this book, they might feel like they are one of the character in the story and experience the same mood as Robinson. I like adventure but I do not want to make it real because it is not easy at all. I enjoyed reading this book very much because it made me feels enjoy, excite, and wonder. I recommend this book for anyone who likes action and adventure.
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on August 5, 2001
I admit, I was truly impressed by this book. Of course, I�ve heard of the book for years, but for some reason always just assumed it would be dull. Well, dull it was not! It was really a beautiful story. Actually, it took a little while to become beautiful, as its first hefty chunk, with Crusoe leaving England, travelling around the world, trying to become rich, becoming an adventurer and then a slave, it was all a little slow�and perhaps fake. But once he made it to his deserted island, THIS BOOK BECAME A TRUE WINNER! His struggle to make it and survive and live a life of some quality and not go absolutely nuts from isolation and loneliness, it was a true gem, and for me, easy to relate to, despite the fact that defoe wrote it nearly 300 years ago. I really did not expect much from this book, not nearly as much as I got. I found the detail involved in his life on the island surprisingly welcome, and I found myself very caught up emotionally in crusoe�s struggle, and almost sick at the idea of him ALL ALONE on that island for decades.
Book�s weak points (in my opinion): I found almost everything on religion and morality in this book dull, and I skimmed over it. it frankly didn�t make sense to me how robinson crusoe, who was (or became) so enlightened in so many ways never could really see beyond the bounds of his petty little religion, as exemplified best (or worst) in his (...) conversion of Friday to christianity. From the beginning of the book I found defoe�s/crusoe�s soliloquies on religion suspect, and I wondered if defoe himself was just putting them in to satisfy his audience�s limited morality, to keep them off his trail, so to speak. Or perhaps he put them in just to allow the book to pass the censors� pens�or to keep himself out of jail�but that deep down he didn�t for a second buy all the religion crusoe supposedly espoused. Perhaps I�ll never know, but it�s just a feeling�
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on April 23, 2001
Besides being an admirable adventure story recounting the struggles of a single man braving the hostility of the elements, Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" is an allegory of a striving capitalist. No other book stands so prominently as a product of the Puritan, post-Reformation environment, with its ideals of asceticism, self-denial and the accumulation of wealth. It has been also remarked that Crusoe is peculiarly oblivious to the craving for woman. The episode involving cannibalism (which can be read as an anagram of "capitalism") illustrates this, as Crusoe is menaced by the fear of being eaten. Moreover, the novel is invested with profoundly Christian symbolism, as the surname of the hero (Crusoe=crux=cross) attests. Note that Crusoe's "echo" in the narrative is Xury, the first letter of whose name (X) is patently Christian in connotation. Though a stirring and exciting tale of courage and survival, it is strongly underpinned by the Enlightenment ethic of man's domination of nature for the purposes of his own self-aggrandisment.
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on January 27, 2001
Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel, "Robinson Crusoe," written when Defoe was 59 years old, is a multifaceted work whose layers of significance can easily escape those who read it in their youth. The English precursor to the survival/adventure/shipwreck narrative, "Robinson Crusoe" details the career of an errant youth who discovers hope and faith through experimentation. Crusoe's exploits are also important to a developing early 18th century notion of the ideal industrious middle class citizen, as well as reaffirming the growth of British Imperialism.
As a boy in a household already fractured by rebellious sons, Crusoe lives aimlessly with his father and mother, always desiring to leave the confines of his home for the sea. Against the better wisdom of his father, who advises him to remain where he is and enjoy the fruits of an easy-going middle class life, Crusoe takes to the ocean. A series of ill-omened occurrences, including shipwrecks and enslavement lead Crusoe to a deserted island off the coast of South America, where he is forced to provide and fend for himself.
Though Crusoe's spiritual awakening has been much noted in reviews, one important facet of his Christian moralizing in the novel that is noteworthy is the way the novel problematizes Protestant-Catholic relations throughout the novel. The vast majority of Crusoe's early encounters are among Spanish and Portuguese colonists and traders. It is interesting how Crusoe measures the English against them, and how that comparison extends into Crusoe's evaluation of the various 'savages' he comes across in the novel.
Another great layer of significance in "Robinson Crusoe" concerns its attitudes toward English history and colonial ventures. Note the language of possession, authority, and control that colour Crusoe's descriptions of himself and the uninhabited island he must learn to live on. I find especially telling, in accordance with his religious views, how England's 18th century colonial competitors, the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and French, are characterized by Crusoe.
I could also cite the often explicitly homoerotic undertones in the relationship between Crusoe and his Native American manservant, Friday, as a source of compelling interest in Defoe's novel. In the realm of the socio-economic, Crusoe's appropriation of utilitarianism in regards to raw materials, money, and even people is an important theme. For those who have read it a million times or never, Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" is entertaining and edifying, always worth reading and rereading.
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Robinson Crusoe is best taken at two levels, the literal adventure story of survival on an isolated island and as a metaphor for finding one's way through life. I recommend that everyone read the book who is willing to look at both of those levels. If you only want the adventure story, you may not be totally satisfied. The language, circumstances, and attitudes may put you off so that you would prefer to be reading a Western or Space-based adventure story with a more modern perspective.
Few books require anyone to rethink the availability and nature of the fundamentals of life: Water, food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment. Then having become solitary in our own minds as a reader, Defoe adds the extraordinary complication of providing a companion who is totally different from Crusoe. This provides the important opportunity to see Crusoe's civilized limitations compared to Friday's more natural ones. The comparisons will make for thought-provoking reading for those who are able to overcome the stalled thinking that the educated, civilized route is always the best.
One of the things that I specially liked about the book is the Crusoe is an ordinary person in many ways, making lots of mistakes, and having lots of setbacks. Put a modern Superhero (from either the comic books, adventure or spy novels, or the movies) into this situation, and it would all be solved in a few minutes with devices from the heel of one's shoe. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I liked the trial-and-error explorations. They seemed just like everyday life, and made the book's many lessons come home to me in a more fundamental way.
Have a good solitary trip through this book!
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on September 24, 2000
Unfortunately, this book suffered the fate of many other masterpieces: be classified in the "children" bookshelf. That guarantees most editions will be abridged, censored, and forgotten, since kids today read very little and waste their time playing with horrendous japanese toys. Enough lecturing. This is a book about a man who, yes, goes through many adventures, and in the way finds himself. This is not the story of a man who goes through pleasant experiences, enjoying adventure. He suffers very much finding himself alone for many years, having to survive by himself in the midst of a desert island. The book is narrated in the first person, so it's a long monologue by a truly lonely man. His reflections are deep and moving. It's good that this is a complete and unabridged edition, since the first part is usually severed from the rest, which is a pity because it puts the whole story in context. This is a fun but also an interesting reading.
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on January 6, 2001
Lost at sea and then condemned to an island to live out his life is not the only story being told in this classic novel.
It is a tale of human reflection that allows the captive and the reader to escape the bondage of life that is dolled out to people from all times in history.
It is an uplifting and religious revelation that any self-worth evangelist should read before they venture out on the television to convert lost souls.
I found it to be borderline mystical with a brutal self analylization of humanity and what the problems that plague the commonest of men are, and offering a way to escape the island of our own creation of desertion.
I highly recommend all ages to read or re-read this classic with a focus, not so much on the technical descriptions of how to survive the island, except maybe a CBS executive,but on the obvious message Defoe wanted to share with his fellow man.
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