So. This is one of those books I read because it’s a classic, not because I was really very interested in it for itself. And I don’t mind the older style of language (it was published in 1719). I mind that the author repeats himself extensively and that he’s constantly moralizing.
On the repetition issue: When Robinson Crusoe gets shipwrecked, he tells us about how he made it to shore, and how he survived his first week or two, etc etc. Then he tells us how he starts a journal with what paper and ink he brought to shore and quotes the journal—which tells us exactly what the narrative just said (often verbatim)! Really?! Once was enough! Fortunately, the repetition subsided after the first quarter of the book.
On moralizing: I’m all for authors including messages. Almost all authors do, and these messages are called themes. We look for them to figure out what the author wants to say by telling the story. But in this book, you don’t have to look for them. You’re slapped in the face by them. Robinson is continually telling us how if he had only honored God by obeying his parents, all of these terrible things wouldn’t have happened to him, but now that he’s seen the mercy of God in setting him upon a fruitful island, he’s repented, and so even though he’s stranded alone in the middle of nowhere, life is better… Barf. No subtlety whatsoever.
But, it was the 1700s. And the novel was just being invented. So I guess I should give Daniel Defoe some slack for that.
Moving on, here are some quotes I did like:
- “Youth are not ashamed to sin, but are ashamed to repent.” – This I found interesting to ponder. It’s still very true today.
- “I learned to look more on the bright side of my condition and less on the dark side… All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.” – Again, still very true today.
- “It was the sixth of November in the sixth year of my reign—or my captivity, which you please…” – I loved the humor of this!
- He describes is life as “a life of Providence’s checkerwork.”
So I did enjoy quite a bit. The repetition was mostly at the beginning, so it didn’t make enjoyment of the text difficult all the way through. The moralizing did. But I enjoyed the old style of language quite a bit. And, well, it’s another classic to cross off my list!