First published in 1719 in London, the first edition of Robinson Crusoe gave credit to the work's fictional protagonist, Robinson Crusoe, as its actual author instead of Daniel Defoe. This led many readers to believe Robinson Crusoe was a real person and the book a true account. In form epistolary, confessional, and didactic, the novel is a fictional autobiography of the title character, a castaway who spends years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers before being rescued. Despite its simple narrative style, Robinson Crusoe was well received in the literary world and is often credited as marking the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre. Before the end of 1719 the book had already run through four editions, and it has gone on to become one of the most widely published books in history, spawning numerous sequels and adaptations for stage, film, and television. For three hundred years, Robinson Crusoe has entertained both adults and young people alike.
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- Roxanne Derkum
A Rewarding Classic
Even though the basic story (or, rather, certain fragments of that story) are so well known, this early example of the art of the novel is among its best. The start is a little slow, but after that the narrative quickly builds until by the time our hero lands on his island, it has become quite compelling. I found Defoe's account of Robinson's efforts at survival, and the castaway's growing ingenuity, fascinating, the telling masterful.
Present in the story, too, is an unconscious portrayal of the 17th Century worldview (although published in 1719, the story itself takes place in the latter half of the 1600s), among them their views of religion and morality -- the fact that slavery was simply an assumed fact, for example, so that the horrors of the slave trade were entirely below notice, even by those who considered themselves moral, and who were in all other ways. Each era is blind to its own darkest evils.
Engaging and revealing, this is a story that does not feel old, but is instead fresh and rewarding. This is a classic well worth checking out.
I thought Charlton Griffin did a fine job narrating. The jungle sounds, sounds of waves, etc, that were used to divide chapters are unnecessary and cheesy, but a minor distraction.