This classic tale of shipwreck and survival on an uninhabited island was an instant success when first published in 1719, and it has inspired countless imitations.
In his own words, Robinson Crusoe tells of the terrible storm that drowned all his shipmates and left him marooned on a deserted island. Forced to overcome despair, doubt, and self-pity, he struggles to create a life for himself in the wilderness. From practically nothing, Crusoe painstakingly learns how to make pottery, grow crops, domesticate livestock, and build a house. His many adventures are recounted in vivid detail, including a fierce battle with cannibals and his rescue of Friday, the man who becomes his trusted companion.
Full of enchanting detail and daring heroics, Robinson Crusoe is a celebration of courage, patience, ingenuity, and hard work.
Robinson Crusoe is a great story, but it has some cringe-able moments. The big one, the one I didn't remember from high school, was the purpose of Crusoe's voyage when he was shipwrecked on the island: he was the supercargo on a slave ship, intending to buy "slaves for trinkets" on the west coast of Africa, some of them destined for his own slave plantation in Brazil. It would be nice to report that by the end of the book, after his association with Friday, he came to realize the trade was evil, but such is not the case.
The first word he teaches Friday is the name he decided to call him by - the day of the week on which he rescued Friday from cannibals. (He never bothers trying to learn Friday's original name in his own language.) The second word he teaches him is the name by which he wants to be addressed: Master.
This bothered me enough that I spent some time looking up the history of abolitionism in England. Apparently it didn't really take off until another generation or two after the book was written (in 1719). So Defoe doesn't quite get a free pass in my book for this, but at least it can be argued that he was simply not ahead of his time on this issue.
Still, it's a great story, and well worth listening to. Crusoe pieces together a life of reasonable comfort, using flotsam from the wreck that stranded him on the island, and a bit of ingenuity. He keeps track of time by cutting notches in a post. He discovers living seeds among the trash he brought back, and by careful experimenting over several years, he is able to raise a respectable crop of wheat. He comes to a kind of accommodation with the cannibals who periodically visit the island: he realizes that he has no right to kill them just because he abhors their way of life.
But eventually he does kill a few and rescue one of their fellow cannibals, who was about to become a meal himself. This young man he names Friday. As Friday learns English and they begin having more substantial conversations, Crusoe tries to teach him Christianity. (I have to admit that I found Friday's questions and objections more persuasive than Crusoe's answers.) Eventually they are rescued and leave the island.
A major loose end in the plot concerns Friday's father and a small group of Spanish soldiers, whom Friday and Crusoe rescue from yet another band of cannibals. They return to the island they came from, where a larger group of Spaniards resides, to bring them news of Crusoe and the greater safety to be had on his island. But Crusoe returns to England before they get back. (This loose end is tied up neatly in the sequel, the Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.)
There are many excellent audio versions of this story available. The one by John Lee is also recommended. (It uses a different set of chapter breaks than this one: apparently Defoe published the story without breaks, and chapters have been added in different forms by later editors.) Simon Vance's version has a slight edge, in my opinion, because his Crusoe has a Yorkshire twang: Crusoe is, after all, a Yorkshireman. (My "expertise" in this comes from many years of watching Sean Bean and listening to Richard Sharpe audiobooks.) Vance, as always, gives a well-modulated, evenly-paced performance.
Exciting storyline and excellent narration really brings this book to life. I could listen to Simon Vance read the phone book. :)
Don't pass by this book because you've seen too many movies of it.
This book is surprisingly not like those movies.
Now I'm thinking those movies had other agendas. Listen and you might know what I mean. Stop trying to change history! Bad stuff happened and still happens.
one of my favorite books of all time. i've read this book several times growing up and have always found the imagry of daniel defoes writings exceptional. i like to listen to this on my mp3 as i work out at the gym
Inflection and accent of narrator is engaging. Almost as good as a dramatization. Four stars. I highly suggest this reading to college or high school students.
Maybe. It kept my interest for most of the way, though the moralizing was a bit tedious in some places.
I may check out Moll Flanders at some point, but I'm going to be listening to more contemporary works for a while.
As always, Simon's rendition was wonderful to listen to.
En Dieu Ma Foy
This classic by Daniel Defoe needs no introduction from me to be familiar to Audible readers. It is the work that Defoe is most well known for, and if you have read his other works you know why. Defoe was a political and religious propagandist and because of this most of his works are philisophical in nature and tend to bore most readers. Robinson Crusoe was his attempt to roll his propaganda into a fiction form that would captivate a reader long enough for him to get his message across. His success with Robinson Crusoe is probably why his later fiction works become saturated with his belief system and tend to dry out quickly and leave the reader feeling like they are being preached to rather than a story told. With this book he strikes a good balance however and creates the masterpiece that stands the test of time.
Simon Vance was the perfect reader for this work, and really made it come alive. His reading of Robinson Crusoe did it justice and was truly enjoyable to listen to.
I am trying to listen to the classics, but sometimes they are just boring for someone who is so used to books moving quicker.
Those who like stories set in Victorian England would like this story.
Simon Vance has an excellent voice and his performances of other authors have made me weep.
A interesting book which, theiving from Wikipedia, can be summed up by novelist James Joyce, who noted that the true symbol of the British conquest is Robinson Crusoe: "He is the true prototype of the British colonist. ? The whole Anglo-Saxon spirit is in Crusoe: the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, the persistence, the slow yet efficient intelligence, the sexual apathy, the calculating taciturnity". I would add to that a man with a twisted and egotistical view of religion and a hypocrite, even by the standards of when the book was written (1719). Good book though, a bit slow in places and well read.
"Historically interesting, Good story."
This book was interesting from a historical context and also a good story. The book was published on April 25, 1719. Its full title was "The Life and strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, where-in all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by Himself". Great title for charades.
Novelist James Joyce noted that the true symbol of the British conquest is Robinson Crusoe: "He is the true prototype of the British colonist. ? The whole Anglo-Saxon spirit is in Crusoe: the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, the persistence, the slow yet efficient intelligence, the sexual apathy, the calculating taciturnity." I found the book interesting for the different values and conflicting morals held by RC and the normality with which these values were accepted in that day. Historically informative.
A well-read book that keeps the listener interested.
"Good, but not great"
It needs editing. I actually like all the detail about how he survives on the island. It's the latter sections of the book that are the problem. There's a clear natural finishing point for the story but Defoe kept on writing beyond it.
It's like the final Lord Of The Rings movie, it just didn't know when to end.
No but I will listen to more. Very very good.
Well I think it's already been done, but Desmond from Lost would be my choice.
Great listen. Very enjoyable, one of the best books every written in English, in my opinion.
There are many.
Robinson, of course.
It would be Castaway
Great voice, good to listen to.
"An incredibly tedious novel read very well."
The novel is incredibly dull. I would never have made it through this if I didn't have to for a course. Almost the entire novel is about the minutiae of how to build things and live on an island recorded in unbearable detail, and elsewhere it is religious waffle.
Really it is just how much time he spent on all of the tedious details.
The discovery of the footprint is very effective.
Boredom. I just wanted it to be over - I even listened to it on fast speed to get through it quicker.
Robinson Crusoe is obviously an important book, but it is really not enjoyable. Even Virginia Woolf criticised Defoe's dry writing style. The novel has its merits, of course, but if you are hoping for an interesting story this is not for you. The reader is very good, but I would not recommend this book to anyone.
I enjoyed listening to this book, but think I benefitted from listening first. I think reading through the book may have been harder work. Most is monologe (of course, if deserted by oneself on an island) and occasionally dragged. However if you have already read and love the book, you will not be disappointed with this audio version. The narration is very good. I was surprised by some phrases and idealogies, but then it was written a very long time ago, when the status of women, black people, and 'savages' was considerably different, and considered acceptable and normal.
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