Friday, 2 December 2016

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe // aka the scrappy diary of a racist farmer

Title: Robinson Crusoe
Author: Daniel Defoe
Genre: Classics, Historical, Adventure
Warnings: racism, mention of suicide
Rating: 1 star
Add to Goodreads
DNF at 25%

Robinson Crusoe reads like a scrappy diary of a racist farmer. For an interesting premise, nothing happens. And this would be okay with me if the writing was engaging - but it wasn't.

Story and character-wise it's so weak. Every single thing that happens to Crusoe he is prepared for. When he first crashed on the island he spent a few lines contemplating suicide due to him being alone, but that's quickly brushed aside for his step by step gathering of items for survival. Crusoe doesn't seem to feel alarmed by the prospect of eternal solitude, nor is there any indication of the toll his situation ought to place on him. It's just not human.

Rescue doesn't even seem to cross his mind. And while that's a reasonable approach in terms of survival, it's not a logical writing decision given that we have been provided with no prior indication that Robinson is capable of being self sufficient. Sure, he owned some land and traveled around, but he himself said he didn't do work on the ships he was on. Someone please tell me how a man with severe wanderlust and no work ethic spends no time exploring his island and is so chill and knows exactly how to hunt and survive - because I just don't see the continuity. Psychologically, humans are compelled to survive, but that doesn't make it a walk in the park.

I respect this as (arguably) the first novel and what this means historically, but even alongside context, it's hard for a modern reader to find the adventures of Robinson Crusoe particularly adventurous or entertaining.


  1. BOOM I love how you've crushed this book. Crusoe is like the ultimate hipster with his wonderlust and "I can totally live in nature" :P. Great review!

    1. Haha thank you! I didn't even get a third of the way through and I found him utterly despicable. Glad you enjoyed it :D