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/Other Literature: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe Camilla Send a noteboard - 17/11/2009 10:54:09 AM
This is possibly the most mindnumbingly boring book I have ever read. I may have read worse, but if so I have removed the memory of the horror from my conscious mind.

The worst bit is I thought I had read it before and rather liked it. I can only surmise that I have read one of those re-written versions for children, one that put rather more weight on the cannibals, finding Friday, the hindering of the mutiny ... you know, that sort of thing. I am of course referring to the rare moments of "something happens".

I am not saying the book is bad. It does a very good job of conveying the feeling of being stuck on a desert island for 28 years. The sheer mind-numbing slowness of it. And while it is a dreadfully religious book, and my patience when it comes to sermons in books is limited to accept only two repetitions per topic, I enjoyed the occasional kicks aimed in the general direction of the Stuart monarchy, the Catholics and other people Defoe did not like in general.

Perhaps I found it so boring because I am not a Victorian boy. I find it as a staple of any male character set in the Victorian era (and often later) that he will have spent his childhood reading Robinson Crusoe and enjoying it tremendously. Half the male authors I have been reading about considered it one of their formative books. Ironically, these authors write books I like, books that do not go on for 180 pages about the detailed measurements of the cave, the table, the canoe, the wall and all the rest.

I know why it is there. I know it is supposed to back up the illusion of truth, the claim that it is a memoir, not a fiction. But knowing does not entail enjoying.

Finally, for I should stop now, I must say this: I am sure this could be an intriguing book to analyse. Both for its attitude to politics and religion, for its very interesting treatment of slavery (which did fascinate me when it showed up), for the meditations on cultural relativity, or even for its use of mind-numbing detail of mundane tasks as a literary tool which really does communicate the experience of the cast-away in a way that no mere "I was alone on the island for 25 years" can do.

I am not saying that you shouldn't read it. But don't go into it thinking it will be fun.
structured procrastinator
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/Other Literature: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe - 17/11/2009 10:54:09 AM 5459 Views
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