This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
KNOWN to millions, even those who have never read Daniel Defoe’s popular desert-island story, Robinson Crusoe has never failed to engage the interests of not only enthusiasts for tales of adventure but also literary critics, sociologists, economists and psychologists.
Widely recognised as the first modern novel, Defoe’s work has been claimed as “a core mythic text of Western and capitalist civilisation over the last three centuries,” with Marx criticising classical bourgeois economists who seized upon the enterprising marooned Crusoe, reduced to the state of natural man, as a model for a perfect market economy.
They had not noticed that he had nevertheless imported to his island, along with the useful tools retrieved from his shipwreck, the ethos of the burgeoning capitalist society in the outside world. Crusoe even kept daily accounts of profit and loss.
James Dunkerley’s book initially provides a fairly full synopsis of the original narrative, which covers much more of Crusoe’s life than his island sojourn and includes his philosophical observations on his experiences.
It’s followed by “the Robinsonade,” which ranges over the early enthusiastic critics such as Rousseau and Coleridge – who described it as a work “worthy of Shakespeare” – through the succeeding 20th-century academic thickets of academia. As the author warns: “Here come the French intellectuals. Please take a deep breath.”
Understandably, this section also deals with more modern descriptions of interesting adaptations questioning the significant absence of any sexuality in poor Robinson’s life which, according to James Joyce, was one of “sexual apathy.”
In conclusion, Dunkerley delivers an informative contextual account of the author of this fictional autobiography. The “hyperactive” Defoe turned his prodigious energies to mercantile trade as wine merchant, brickyard owner, journalist, novelist and as both government critic and spy-provocateur. For his Whig masters he was “a radical star.”
In appraising what is unquestionably Defoe’s finest poem, his Satyr on The True-Born Englishman, where, after describing the mixture of races that fuel our “native” bloodline, he concludes: “From this Amphibious, ill-born mob began/That vain ill-natured thing, an Englishman,” Dunkerley believes he mirrors not only his own times but “the age of UKIP, the DUP and Brexit.”
Published by O/R Books, £12.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £10 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.