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Robinson Crusoe (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – June 10, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-As with any abridged version, the story is spare, but what it loses in prose, it gains in readability. The easy-to-understand text keeps some of the flavor of the original, but in condensing 27 chapters and more than 300 pages of narrative to 50-plus pages with half as many chapters, much of the long-winded description has been eliminated. However, the modernized spelling, added dialogue, shortened expository passages, large type, and emphasis on fast-paced storytelling will make this classic accessible to a younger audience. The story ends abruptly with Robinson Crusoe's return to England. None of the adventures after his arrival in his homeland-the discovery of riches at his Brazilian plantation, Friday's encounter with the bear, or the attack by ravenous wolves on the trek to France-are included. Nevertheless, the bare-bones telling, combined with more than a dozen of Wyeth's lavish oil paintings (which originally graced the 1920 edition), makes this a worthwhile purchase.
Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

One of the first novels ever written, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), the classic adventure story of a man marooned on an island for nearly 30 years, is part of our culture. From Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) to the recent movie Castaway, the elemental situation of the person suddenly alone, who must make a life in a dangerous environment, continues to enthrall all ages. Yet few adults, never mind young people, can wade through Defoe's lengthy tome with its convoluted eighteenth-century prose. So here's a shortened storybook version--retold by Timothy Meis in accessible style, yet true to the spirit of the original and the time when it was first published--in a large picture-book format with clear type, high-quality paper, and more than a dozen unforgettable narrative paintings by Wyeth, first published in 1920 and newly reproduced here in glowing color.

The story begins with the universal quest: the young man in Britain, torn between his safe home and his hunger for adventure, breaks away from his loving father and sails away into the unknown. After a series of harrowing escapes, he's shipwrecked on a desert island. His lively first-person account shows how his intelligence and education help him survive for many years, and how he uses technology, including guns and tools salvaged from the ship. He sets up home, reads the Bible, finds a parrot as a pet, and even devises a calendar to keep track of time. Then one day he finds a human footprint: "Was it someone who could save me and take me back to civilization? Or was it a savage who landed here?" When some "savages" arrive in several canoes, he uses his guns to get rid of them, and he rescues one of their captives, a handsome fellow with very dark skin. Delighted to have a companion at last, Crusoe names the newcomer Friday (since Crusoe found him on Friday). Crusoe teaches "my man Friday" to speak English, fire a gun, carve a canoe, and clothe his nakedness, and they live happily together. Later they rescue a white man and Friday's father from a group of "savages," and, eventually, they all return to their homes.

Defoe is said to have based his novel on the true adventures of Alexander Selkirk (who spent four or five years on an island in the South Pacific) and on accounts of other castaways of the time. The survival adventure is still enthralling. But what about the racism? This is clearly the classic colonialist story, but whose history is it? And how will young people read it today? Is it just boring, politically correct nitpicking to object to the use of the word "savages" throughout the book and even on the book flap? Yes, there are some bad guys among the whites, but even they are called "men"; the dark-skinned people are always known as "savages." How do we talk about this story today? The guns and tools make Crusoe boss, but wouldn't Friday have been able to teach the newcomer some survival skills? Does it never occur to Crusoe to learn Friday's own name and language? Who discovered whom? Wyeth's clear, action-packed illustrations are magnificent. But there's one shockingly jarring scene of Friday groveling in gratitude at Crusoe's feet. When the whites say thanks, they embrace each other.

So, no, the objections are not just P. C. sermonizing. The racism is highly offensive. But the fact that the story is so widely known and has such elemental appeal makes this an excellent book for discussion, especially in classes studying the history of exploration and discovery. Louise Erdrich addressed a similar problem [BKL Ap 1 99] when she commented that although she had loved the Little House books as a child, in rereading them as an adult, she was shocked to recognize that "not only was there no consciousness about the displaced people whose land the newcomers were taking, but also that there was a fair amount of racism." Still, she disagrees with censorship of any kind: "The best way is for good teachers and parents to install racism radar detectors so that kids can make their own judgments, because they're going to have to."

Robinson Crusoe is part of the fine Scribner Storybook Classic series that includes The Last of the Mohicans and Robin Hood, all of which bring readers to Wyeth's paintings. Treasure Island will be out later this year. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (June 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486404277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486404271
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (473 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

182 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Q on January 26, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Defoe helped to define the modern fictional novel when he wrote about the tales of Robinson Crusoe. The book has a strong religious theme, as was Defoe's intention. However, this version of the text censors out some of the language against what Defoe called the Papist Church (or the Roman Catholic Church) as well as some items which would be considered racially insensitive today (but leaving in much of it as well). I don't understand why this version leaves out some of those parts, as they completely change the story that Defoe intended. I'm not sure that Amazon knows these texts are censored (not the original) as there is no allusion to it in the book's description.

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82 of 91 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 30, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, is generally credited with being one of the first novel writers in the English language. The book is surely an influential one-- spawning countless imitations, derivations, and (in our era) reality-based television shows.

It is billed, quite fairly, as an adventure story. However, it is a very different kind of adventure than the modern action-sequence laden book which readers today may expect. It is an adventure story, but one which centers primarily on mastery and morality.

The morality is placed centrally in the book when Crusoe rejects the advice of his father to accept the happiness of the middle class life to which he was born. Against the wishes of his family, he runs off to sea to find adventure. It is not until Crusoe literally recreates a primitive approximation of that middle class life for himself on his island that he is freed.

Crusoe is also a story about the ability of mankind to master his surroundings through hard work, patience, and Christianity. The combination of these three supports are what allow him to escape captivity in Africa, overcome the deadly obstacles on the island, and finally leave the island itself. His physical prowess and combat skills are significantly less important to his journey than the message of trust and persistance that the decades he spends on the island convey. While this message might need tempering for the modern reader, it is also inspirational and important to read.

If the potential reader is not used to the diction of the time, the book itself may take some patience and persistance. It pays off, in the end, and should be an excellent book for the young teenager (or the not-so-young grown-up) interested in stories of adventure.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By B.C. Scribe on January 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
After reading Glyn Williams' trenchant 'The Prize Of All The Oceans' I had an overwhelming desire to read this classic once again. I first read it when I was a mere 10 year old and it completely mesmerized me; I find that it still held the same power over me thirty years later. It is difficult to put this tale down once the title character becomes a castaway on the "island of despair" (as Crusoe refers to it) and he begins the battle against the odds to survive. Facing extreme tropical heat, torrential storms, a dreadful loneliness and the struggle to master some of the simplest of skills we take for granted Crusoe wages his one-man crusade for survival. Beginning his desolate existence steeped in woeful self-pity he slowly realizes through a series of trying circumstances, devotional reading of the Bible and finally relief from his isolated state that the experience proves to be one of reverie. In the process Crusoe becomes quite possibly the most inspirational figure to spring forth from the pages of literature.
Though it is annually listed by literature scholars as one of the 100 finest works of fiction, today primarily adolescents read Defoe's enduring tale as part of their required reading for school; very few others rarely bother with this nearly three century old tale. 'Robinson Crusoe' it seems is a classic awaiting a renaissance of rediscovery by adults who regularly read for either leisure or as a part of continuing education. While the novel's approach to morality may seem a bit old fashioned by today's contemporary standards, the character's awakening to wisdom, inner strength and faith will inspire any reader of any age.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Robinson Crusoe is best taken at two levels, the literal adventure story of survival on an isolated island and as a metaphor for finding one's way through life. I recommend that everyone read the book who is willing to look at both of those levels. If you only want the adventure story, you may not be totally satisfied. The language, circumstances, and attitudes may put you off so that you would prefer to be reading a Western or Space-based adventure story with a more modern perspective.
Few books require anyone to rethink the availability and nature of the fundamentals of life: Water, food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment. Then having become solitary in our own minds as a reader, Defoe adds the extraordinary complication of providing a companion who is totally different from Crusoe. This provides the important opportunity to see Crusoe's civilized limitations compared to Friday's more natural ones. The comparisons will make for thought-provoking reading for those who are able to overcome the stalled thinking that the educated, civilized route is always the best.
One of the things that I specially liked about the book is the Crusoe is an ordinary person in many ways, making lots of mistakes, and having lots of setbacks. Put a modern Superhero (from either the comic books, adventure or spy novels, or the movies) into this situation, and it would all be solved in a few minutes with devices from the heel of one's shoe. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I liked the trial-and-error explorations. They seemed just like everyday life, and made the book's many lessons come home to me in a more fundamental way.
Have a good solitary trip through this book!
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