15 03 2012

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

One of those classics I have been meaning to read for, ooh, about 30 years and as it turns out I don’t feel that I’ve missed an awful lot. Some really entertaining passages both pre- and post ship wrecking and during 28 years of solitary on the island but some rather dull spiritual musings too. I was prompted to pick it up though by <a href=’http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n21/terry-eagleton/molls-footwear’>a review  by Terry Eagleton of a recent book about Crusoe in the London Review of Books </a>:

One of the ironies of Robinson Crusoe is that although the setting is exotic, Crusoe’s behaviour is just the opposite. He potters around like a Home Counties gardener tending his flower-beds. We half expect him to open a greengrocer’s. The novel is a celebration of sturdy commonsensical English rationality, which looks all the more impressive and unflappable when up against such outlandish conditions. It’s nice to see a desert island looking a little like Dorking. There is something both admirable and absurd about Crusoe’s petit bourgeois approach to his new home – for example, when he rigs up an umbrella for himself. He distils the true spirit of a nation of shopkeepers.

Spot on.

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