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Robinson Crusoe (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – April 15, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 488 customer reviews

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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: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (April 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199553971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199553976
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.8 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (488 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone who is not familiar with the Penguin Clothbound Classics editions, you're missing out on something wonderful. These are well produced clothbound editions, much better quality than most "hardbound" books now. The price is very low--if you buy them when they first come out...drat that I missed the Madame Bovary and Crime and Punishment releases that now cost hundreds of dollars. The price is typically lower than other "hardbound" books; in fact, the price is not that much more than the price of the Penguin Paperback edition of the work, but this copy will last a lifetime.

As with the other Penguin Clothbound Classic editions, this too includes introductory material and appendices typical of other Penguin editions.

I hope Penguin continues to release titles in the Clothbound Classics series, and I wish it would release more titles per year in the series.
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