Baden singleton

He gets enslaved by Barbary pirates; he grows tobacco in Brazil; at the end, he treks across the Pyrenees.

But he always wants more, and an ill-fated voyage for slaves runs into a storm and strands him on his famous island.

More than that, the ideal of isolation seems at odds with fulfilling connections to friends and family.

But Defoe concedes the value of friendship, extolling “the company of religious good men” — devotion to god being his highest ideal.

This was a time of rambling adventure fiction: pseudo-true stories of merchants, pirates, captives, and castaways, all scattered to the four winds.People think of head-in-the-clouds dreamers or dogmatic philosopher kings, though Fredric Jameson argues, persuasively, that utopias give us not blueprints but open-ended possibilities.At any rate, we now prefer dystopias: have already noted, with horror, the accuracy of its predictions: our vulgar entertainment; the corporatization of everything; the dumbing down — and worse — of the highest office in the land.Crusoe becomes a governor ruling English, Spanish, and indigenous subjects, and throughout much of the sequel, , published later in 1719, they’re almost always fighting — against either each other or marauding tribes from nearby islands.Finally, the smoke clears, and the island, once a sanctuary, is left a corpse-strewn battlefield.

Baden singleton

What’s distance, anyway, when ships connect the Earth’s farthest corners?In Defoe’s first novel, considered by some literature’s first novel, Crusoe grows up in York wanting to see the world, believing fulfilment lies far from England.What’s remarkable is the refusal to let go of the epiphany of the first volume, the insistence that all of us might find room for solitude even in otherwise dense and busy cities. Here, Defoe unfurls a similar narrative pattern: utopia found; utopia debunked; utopia recreated on a smaller scale in England.But this is a novel about piracy in which the pirates — villains in the prior novel — are now cast as heroes.You read it, sitting at the library or curled up on a couch, aware of your own solitude, too, thinking through what you’d do and how you’d fare in that situation.

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The work redeems him, but what satisfies Crusoe most is the stable rhythm of life on the island, its meditative peacefulness, its safety from the vicissitudes of life everywhere else.

In (1726), for instance, Gulliver goes to Barbados and New Holland (modern Australia) but also the Country of the Houyhnhnms, a utopian land of naturally virtuous horses.

It’s at once a satire on tall tales and a very serious philosophical provocation. Gulliver comes home and recreates Houyhnhnm society in miniature, shunning humans for the company of the horses in his stable.

(1627) are set in what were then uncharted waters, far enough away to have escaped both the attention and interference of the rest of the world.

That’s what makes these islands, for a moment, plausible: no one can deny their existence with positive knowledge.


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