February 25, 2009

Robinson Crusoe

Filed under: Book Reviews — Robert John Ed @ 3:26 am

It has been some time since reviewing a book.  Truth be told, I had almost finished a Kant piece some time ago, but took too long and now must relegate it to reading fully again some later date.  Over the past month, I’ve been reading Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe.  The amount of time it took me to read is kind of astounding, but it seems every book since going to school has taken twice as long as should be.

This is Defoe’s lone classic work, though his proclivity for prolific writing should be noted.  He wrote many kinds of tales and was an ardent pamphleteer, having created over 500 books!  I can’t even imagine the dedication needed.  Robinson Crusoe has been a classic for some very long time and spawned a great deal of adventure books after.

Defoe writes in a different type of tongue, something very old English (well duh) with words that one has forgotten and is unbeknownst to in some cases.  For anyone with inclinations toward understanding every last syllable, a dictionary was necessary forthwith.  I tend to just work through words unknown by piecing together context, but some people have to know.  This book has a lot of words you’ll want to look up if that’s your perogative.  Once again, they are not necessarily difficult words, just obscured by the passage of time and alteration of nomenclature.

The story itself is one of trial and tribulation, resourcefulness and religion. Crusoe tempts fate early on and repeatedly, which turns to a tiger’s tail and leaves him lost upon an island unfamiliar.   It’s not necessarily a page turner, but at the same time, there is something interesting about Defoe and his way of writing this.  It begins as a real time account of shipwreck and survival.  Then moves into short entries of a journal for some chapters and eventually returns to the first person to account for what’s happening.  I’m still not sure why it varies as so, from a literary perspective the journal entries were easier to read, but there is no good reason I can understand to compose it as such.  Regardless it’s well done.

Over twenty seven years are spent by Crusoe away from home.  Much of the time is chronologued over his survival and escapades, some more mundane (basket weaving, making pots and candles, farming) and some exciting (spying on savage cannibals).  I don’t believe that spoiling the finale is a huge disservice as this book has been around so long, additionally Defoe foreshadows Crusoe making his escape from the Island.  The last three chapter or so Crusoe spends saving others and finagling an exodus.  The first thirty or so are spent in solace.

This was a good book.  Well a great book, really.  Yet it certainly was not exciting to me to read, unlike some others’ opinions.  Perhaps it’s over the time I read it, which very much matched the cadence of events in the book itself (significant amount of time between reading, slowly but surely moving forward).  Still, I think it’s an important book and one well worth the time although if you’re looking for more swashbuckling fun or intrigue, I’d suggest Jules Verne or Jack London.



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