Author(s): Daniel Defoe
Who has not dreamed of life on an exotic isle, far away from civilization? Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe's famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being. First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been praised by such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Johnson as one of the greatest novels in the English language.
Beyond the end of Robinson Crusoe is a new world of fiction. Even though it did not know itself to be a novel, and even though there were books that we might now call novels published before it, Robinson Crusoe has made itself into a prototype . . . Perhaps because of all the novels that we have read . . . the novelty of Defoe s fiction is the more striking when we return to it. Here it is, at the beginning of things, with its final word reaching out into the future. from the Introduction by John Mullan"
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) had a variety of careers including merchant, soldier, secret agent, and political pamphleteer. He wrote on economics, history, biography and crime but is best remembered for his fiction, which includes Robinson Crusoe (1719), Moll Flanders (1722) and Roxana (1724). John Richetti is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an expert of 18th-century literature and has published widely on the subject.