This Day In Writing History
On April 25th, 1719, Robinson Crusoe, the classic novel by the legendary English writer Daniel Defoe, was published. Although he would write other classic novels such as A Journal of the Plague Year and Moll Flanders, Robinson Crusoe would be his most famous book.
This classic adventure novel was inspired by the true story of a shipwrecked Scottish sailor named Alexander Selkirk. It tells the story of the title character, who as a young man, first hears the call of the sea. Against the wishes of his parents, Robinson Crusoe sets sail on his first ocean voyage.
In a prelude to the events to come, Crusoe's first vessel is shipwrecked in a storm. He survives, but the ordeal fails to silence the call of the sea. On his next voyage, his ship is captured by Moroccan pirates. Crusoe is made a slave. After two years of slavery, he manages to escape in a boat.
Rescued by the captain of a Portuguese ship, Crusoe is befriended by the man, who helps him become the owner of a plantation. Years later, Crusoe joins an expedition to procure and transport slaves from Africa. Once again, Crusoe is shipwrecked. This time, however, he finds himself the sole survivor, marooned on a deserted island in the West Indies.
With only the captain's dog and two cats for company, Crusoe names his new home the Island of Despair. Overcoming his despair, he bucks up and determines to survive. He gathers arms, tools, and supplies from his ship before it sinks, then stakes out a stretch of land near a cave.
There, Crusoe survives by hunting game, growing barley and rice, and storing fruit for the winter. He also raises goats, adopts a parrot as a pet, and learns to make pottery. Taking solace in his bible, Crusoe is thankful for his survival instead of bemoaning his fate.
Years pass, and Crusoe discovers that the island is not deserted after all. He finds natives and discovers that a cannibal tribe visits the island occasionally to hunt them and take them prisoner. Crusoe considers killing the cannibals, but changes his mind, realizing that they are so primitive, they don't know what they're doing.
A native prisoner of the cannibals escapes, and Crusoe befriends him. Naming the man Friday, Crusoe teaches him English, converts him to Christianity, and makes him his personal servant. When Crusoe and Friday happen upon another tribe about to partake in a cannibal feast, they kill most of the cannibals and save two of their prisoners.
One of the prisoners is Friday's father, the other is a Spaniard who tells Crusoe that other Spaniards were shipwrecked on the mainland. A plan is made wherein the Spaniard and Friday's father will return with the other Spaniards, then they'll all build a ship and sail to a nearby Spanish port.
Before the Spaniards return, a British ship arrives at the island. Mutineers have taken control of the ship and are planning to abandon the captain on the island. Crusoe helps the captain and his loyal sailors take back the ship, in exchange for which, the captain takes Crusoe and Friday to England.
Back in England, Crusoe discovers that his family believed he was dead, so his father left him nothing in his will. Crusoe goes to Lisbon to reclaim the wealth he'd accumulated from his plantation. Afterward, he and Friday return - via land - to England, and in one last adventure, fight scores of starving wolves while crossing the Pyrenees mountains.
For nearly three hundred years, Robinson Crusoe has inspired countless tales of castaways - everything from The Swiss Family Robinson to the TV series Gilligan's Island, whose theme song's lyrics state, "Like Robinson Crusoe, it's primitive as can be." The novel has been adapted numerous times for the screen and is rightfully considered one of the all time classic works of English literature.
If you would like to download the free public domain e-book version of Robinson Crusoe for your e-reader, you can find it here at Munsey's archive. If you would like to download the free public domain audiobook version or listen to the streaming feed, you can find it here at the LibriVox archive.
Quote Of The Day
“I hear much of people's calling out to punish the guilty, but very few are concerned to clear the innocent.” - Daniel Defoe
Today's video features a clip from the classic 1954 feature film adaptation of Robinson Crusoe - directed by Luis Buñuel! Enjoy!