Robinson Crusoe @290

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe was published on April 25, 1719.

Robinson Crusoe (1719) – Daniel Defoe
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Robinson Crusoe is an English adventure novel by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1719 and sometimes regarded as the first novel in English. The book is a fictional autobiography of the title character, an English castaway who spends 28 years on a desert island. This device, presenting an account of supposedly factual events, is known as a “false document“, and gives a realistic frame story.

The term “Robinsonade” has been coined to describe the genre of stories similar to Robinson Crusoe.

If we surmise that Robinson Crusoe was the first piece of boy’s lit, the Anglophone world had to wait 21 more years for its first piece of chick lit which was arguably Pamela.

See also: histories (history of the novel), bestseller, first novel, British literature, Robinsonade, 18th century in literature

5 thoughts on “Robinson Crusoe @290

  1. lichanos

    I read Crusoe for the first time a year or so ago. Enjoyed it immensely. See []

    Boy’s lit? C’mon. Tom Swift! Now that’s boy’s lit.

    I recently read Pamela. Maybe you could make a case for that being chick lit. It took Europe by storm, but I bet the majority of the readers were women. Rather tedious, but with some marvelous passages nonetheless.

    My favorite was an extended scene in which Pamela is grilled by a the furious sister of her beloved who is horrified that her brother is actually thinking of marrying this servant! The noblewoman forces Pamela to stand in front of her and be interrogated. (Not unlike the Gestapo agent in “Hangmen Also Die,” now that I think of it.) It is a tour de force of psychological aggression, from which Pamela escapes only by impetuously jumping out the window. Never fear – it was on the first floor!

  2. jahsonic

    Love your comments, as always. Glad you bring Tom Swift to my attention, boy’s lit, chick lit and further categorizations, and especially extending them into the past, is one of my fave theoretical pursuits.

    I sought to incorporate Resa Dudovitz’s quotes…

    “A novel which sold well in the eighteenth century – and even the most successful book rarely sold more than a few thousand copies – did so within a fairly closed circle of readers, many of whom as writers also participated in deciding the prevailing criteria of literary excellence.” — page 21.

    “By the mid-nineteenth century cheaper editions and improved access to reading material through subscriptions and in France, through reading rooms, pushed sales of a popular novel as high as 10,000 copies. Although critics continued to function as the arbiters of taste, the critical elite could no longer claim literature to be their exclusive property.” — page 22.

    and ask what was the extent of the bestsellership of Crusoe and Pamela

    Both quotes are from The Myth of Superwoman : Women’s Bestsellers in France and the United States (1990) by Resa L. Dudovitz

    a book I enjoyed and was illuminated by on the reading and writing experience and practice.

  3. mark

    I don’t know the exact numbers but in his introduction to Ireland by Harriet Martineau (New York : Garland Pub., 1979), Robert Lee Wolff observes at p. vii that Martineau’s novels in the series ‘Illustrations of Political Economy’ sold tens of thousands of copies each. Each title dealt with a separate aspect of political economy, and Martineau produced one title per month. The series was written 1832-4.

  4. Aqautico

    Hi Jasonic – wrote a piece on Robinson Crusoe and being marooned this morning . Have you seen any of that wonderful tv series made in 1964 adapted from Dafoe’s book?

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