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Robinson Crusoe revisited

Indranil Sarkar After the death of his wife, Robinson Crusoe is overcome by the old wanderlust, and sets out with his faithful companion Friday to see his island once again. Thus begins a journey which lasts ten years and nine months, in which Crusoe travels over the world, along the way facing dangers and discoveries in Madagascar, China, and Siberia: Further adventures of Robinson Crusoe. [1619]

Crusoes Island of Despair or The Robinson Crusoe Island

Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe has several unique features. It is a fictional autobiography of its author. It is acclaimed as the first novel in English. It belongs to the genre called Picturesque novel. Robinson Crusoe (1719) was published when Defoe was 60.It possesses the biggest title for any literary work and also it gave birth to a new literary genre called

Robinsonade. The term was coined by German writer Johann Gottfried Schnabel in 1731.It made him famous once for all. The book brought him the reputation as a writer which all his earlier 500 books, pamphlets, articles and treatises could not. Initially the adventure story of Robinson Crusoe was popular among the middle -class people and considered as a piece of juvenile literature. But the idea changed with the advent of Colonial and Post-colonial studies. The modern critics have been detecting so much of colonial, post-colonial and even postmodern ingredients in it and naturally the book has been shifted from the hands of teen-age readers to the aged scholars of the universities; from the fuming tea-cups in the street corner tea-stalls to the solemn class rooms of highest academics.

It has been translated in almost all the major languages of the world and the story has got a mythological dimension i.e. it is known to almost all the countries of the world. Defoe conceived the idea of his adventure story from the real life incident of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish navigator who was cast away in an uninhabited island named "Ms a Tierra" fictional Juan Fernandez and passed 4 years of secluded life there.

Selkirks Mas a Tierra Lets have a re-read of the book with a mixed mind of an adolescent dreamer and an aged literary critic. However, our main objective here is to read the sequel of Robinson Crusoe titled Farther adventures of Robinson Crusoe that Defoe wrote in the same year (1619) to satisfy the curiosity of his readers regarding the island he left away. This is because the manner in which Crusoe left his island is quite dramatic and every reader feels an urge to know the afterword happenings of Crusoes Colony and the people he settled there. Readers want to know whether they could carry on the ethics that Crusoe created or became the food for the cannibals etc. Robinson Crusoe ends with, "... and so ends the first part of my story."The very sentence rings ones curiosity bell and a reading of the next part becomes an utmost urge. Likewise The Further adventures of Robinson Crusoe begins with the captivating sentenceThat homely proverb, used on so many occasions in England, viz. "That what is bred in the bone will not go out of the flesh," was never more verified than in the story of my Life. Any one would think that after thirty-five years' affliction, and a variety of unhappy circumstances, which few men, if any, ever went through before, and after near seven years of peace and enjoyment in the fullness of all things; grown old, and when, if ever, it might be allowed me to have had experience of every state of middle life, and to know which was most adopted to make a man completely happy; I say--- -that develops a strong curiosity to know the

unknown stories of both Crusoe and his Island. And this curiosity prompts us to read the story in a single breath. But, in order not to miss the pleasure, one must have a re-read of Robinson Crusoe in the original first. Because there are frequent and numerable references of it in the second book. Robinson Crusoe possesses one of the biggest literary titles that have ever been conceived by any author. It was published in 1719 with a catchpenny title of sixty-nine words. The full title of the book is:The Life and Strange Surprising 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, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by himself. The story narrates how a 28 years English navigator lands in an uninhabited island after a ship-wreck in which all his companions perished and how he makes the uninhabited island a green and gorgeous human habitation singlehandedly by dint of constant work, farsightedness and faith on God. He passes a span of another 28 years in that island and then manages an English ship to take him back to England. When he detects himself alive in a lonely island, his first thought was the Mercy of God to him because all his companions were dead. Immediately his survival instinct dictates him to save himself from the unseen and unknown enemies. And thus a new and struggling life starts. He realizes that from that moment he has to do everything for himself just for survival. With his ingenuity and hard labour he solves one problem after another and ultimately finds that he has everything out of nothing that a man requires to live. In course of time he gets a human companion when he saved the life of Friday, a cannibal from the hands of other cannibals. He teaches Friday the b asics of man-ness and his capacity to struggle magnifies. He gets more corn, more goats and more strength. He makes earthen-pots, wooden tables and two canoes to fish in the seas. He feels like a monarch in his Island of Despair having supreme authority over everything. In a word, he heads from a barbarous to a civilized life in that remote and isolated island. But, noticeably, he never shows restrain to his fortune and labours as usual, knowing well that a minute of idleness may cause his doom. Finally, after long 28 years, he gets the opportunity to sail back to his

motherland. At the time of leaving his affectionate Country, he allows to settles the English and the Spanish sailors that he saved. However, he takes Friday with him as a companion. Returning England, he settles at Bedford. He marries and begets three children till the death of his wife. But the settled city life cannot satisfy his yearning for the seas. Like Ulysses in Homers Iliad, he also feels like revisiting his own island and see the yet-to-be-seen part of this mysterious world. And thus the story gets a continuation.

A pictorial map of Robinson Crusoe Island on the Pacific

Crusoe gets Friday Crusoe makes an elaborate plan for his return voyage. He accumulates all possible provisions for a long journey. At the beginning of 1693, he makes his nephew the commander of his ship. About the beginning of January 1694, Crusoe and Friday leave Ireland. Then they make it to Crusoe's Island and find that the Spaniards were making troubles for a long time. Soon Crusoe along with Friday fight back the Spaniards and re-establishes his control over them. On the way to the mainland once again from Crusoe's Island, the boat gets attacked by the cannibals. Crusoe wins but Friday dies due to 3 arrow shots. This tragic incident was really very shocking to Crusoe. He buries Friday in the ocean, and in the same evening sets sail for Brazil. They stay for a long period there and then went

directly over to the Cape of Good Hope. They landed on Madagascar and put into a trouble. Their nine men were pursued by three hundred natives, because one of the mariners had carried off a young native girl among the trees. The natives hanged this person, so the crew massacred 32 persons and burned the

houses of the native town. Crusoe became marooned because of opposing all these and ultimately settled at the Bay of Bengal for a long time. Finally, he bought a ship which was later turned out to be stolen. Therefore they went to the river of Cambodia and CochinChina or the bay of Tonquin, until they came to the latitude of 22 degrees and 30 minutes, and anchored at the island of Formosa (Taiwan). Then they arrived to the coast of China. They visited Nanking near the river of Kilam, and sailed southwards to a port called Quenching. An Old Portuguese pilot suggested them to go to Ningbo by the mouth of a river. This Ningbo was a canal that passed through the heart of that vast empire of China, crossed all the rivers and some hills by the help of sluices and gates, and went up to Peking, being near 270 leagues long. After crossing this barrier at the beginning of February they set out from Peking. Then they travelled through the following places: Changu, Naum (or Naun, a fortified city), Argun (a) on the Chinese-Russian border (April 13, 1703). Then(from September 1703 to the beginning of June 1704) they went through Nertzinskoi, Plotbus, touched a lake called Schaks Ozer, Jerawena, the river Udda, Yeniseysk, and Tobolsk.They arrived into Europe around the source of the river Wirtska, south of the river Petrou, to a village called Kermazinskoy near Soloy Kamskoy (Solikamsk). They passed a little river called Kirtza, near Ozomoys (or Gzomoys), came to Veuslima on the river Wirtzogda, running into the Dwina, then they stayed in Lawrenskoy (July 3-7, 1704). Finally Crusoe arrived at the White Sea port town Archangel or Archangelsk on August 18, sailed into Hamburg (September 18), and Hague. He finally arrived at London on 10 January 1705, having been gone from England ten years and nine months. To speak the truth, the second part is not as enchanting as the first part. Here, most of the ingredients that turned the first novel into a huge success and a classical masterpiece are missing. None of the ingredients like the man versus nature motif, the loneliness and the isolation motif, the desperate atmosphere of the desert island are present here. But the charm lies elsewhere. Defoe compensates the deficiency by providing a few new and interesting themes---such as the nostalgic longing of the castaway to go back to his desert island, the social criticism on colonialism (Crusoe opposes the brutal marines and therefore is being left behind, cast away by his own men the colonizers). And last, but not least, Defoe introduces many more exotic locations, unknown to the common British reader Madagascar, China, Siberia with their elaborate geographic and scenic beauty.

And all these things ultimately changed the very genre of the novel. It has elevated its position from a juvenile-dream story to a thought-provoking intellectual and academic text. The journalistic record of facts, rituals, flora and fauna in the places he travelled has been proved as sources of postmodern studies of culture and ethnicity of the respective places. Crusoes inclusion of a detail map of the places he passed through provides provision for a Geocritical interpretation of the space or the spatial of the novel from a postmodern plane. And, in this way the erstwhile light hearted adventure-story has become an authentic source for serious and thought provoking modern and postmodern discourses. [Source: www.wikipedia.org]

Authors Bio. Daniel Defoe was out and out an outstanding intellectual. He was born in 1660 in London, England. In his youth, he became a trader and performed several business ventures abroad. But almost all his attempts failed and brought bankruptcy and aggressive creditors. He then turned to literary activities and got a little favour of the lady luck. Then he got involved in the political activities of the time and within a short time proved himself a prolific political pamphleteer. But, for his political pamphlet True born English gentleman, he was put to pillory. This Pillory-episode was again a unique and unprecedented one. People spread flowers and shouted in his praise in stead of customary activities of spitting and pelting brickbats and rotten eggs to the victim. And from this unique pillory-incident (There is no second incident like this) onward, Defoes popularity started increasing and he established himself as a prolific writer. Late in life, at the age of sixty, he turned his pen to fiction and wrote Robinson Crusoe just to earn money. But the book came out to be one of the

most widely read and influential novels of all time. Defoe wrote more than 500 literary pieces of outstanding merit before his death in 1731.

The End Note: Robinson Crusoe is most probably the most popular story in the world. It has been translated in Dutch, Hebrew, Armenian, Bengali, Persian, and even Eskimo, to name a few. It is sometimes seen as a children's book like Gullivers Travels. But the two sequels that Defoe wrote to his magnum opus are not so popular. The second was named Farther adventures of Robinson Crusoe, published in 1619 and the third was a collection of intellectual discourses and essays titled Serious Reflections during the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe having no sea-tale at all, published in 1621. [Source: Daniel
Defoe website]

Links, References & acknowledgements:


i.www.wikipedia.org ii.www.danial defoe.com iii.www.sparknotes.com iv. www.biography.com/people/daniel-defoe v. www.online-literature.com/defoe vi. www.bartleby.com vii.Robinson Crusoe for kids