I first read Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe when I was at university and I admit to not having picked up the book since, except to move it from house to house over the years. Perhaps I should re-read it though; Robinson Crusoe is said to be second only to the Bible in the number of translations. Published on April 25, 1719, it has inspired many spin-off novels, television programmes and films. A copy of the first edition is held by the British Library in London.
Before the end of the first year of publication, the first volume had been published in four editions and by the end of the 19th century, no other book in Western literature had more editions, spin-offs and translations. Defoe wrote a sequel, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.
The current edition by Penguin Classics.
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Why is this story so popular? It is often described as the ‘first English novel’ and is a combination of adventure story, in which the shipwrecked Crusoe encounters pirates and cannibals. It is also an examination of the human condition when completely isolated. This is the first-hand story of a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote desert island in the Caribbean. Crusoe is the sole survivor of the shipwreck and in his journal his chronicles his daily attempt to stay alive. He finds food, constructs shelter and faces isolation. He enlists the help of a native islander, Crusoe calls him Friday, and slowly transforms himself from shipwreck victim to self-sufficient survivor.
Films & Television
The book inspired the 2000 film Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks as a systems analyst whose plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean. Washed up with him on his deserted island are a number of Fed Ex parcels, some of which he opens and finds useful articles.
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Less likely is the casting of Pierce Brosnan in the 1997 film Robinson Crusoe [below].
The novel has inspired many adaptations, including Robinson Crusoe on Mars [above] in which astronaut Kit Draper, stranded on Mars, must figure out how to find oxygen, food and water.
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As a child of the Sixties and Seventies, I am most familiar with the Robert Hoffman television series. If you are the same age, you will instantly remember the music. It was broadcast between 1965 and 1977.
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And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe #oldbooks #bookcovers https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4vU via @SandraDanby