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Robinson Crusoe (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – April 15, 2009
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Grade 7 Up-Defoe's classic novel of shipwreck and survival, now nearly 300 years old, is abridged competently in this recording. The flavor of the 18th century language is retained, but the plot moves along at a pace more appealing to 21st century ears. The reader, Martin Shaw, has a pleasant voice, but unfortunately tends to trail off at the ends of sentences, losing whole words. As with all abridgements, large sections of the story and entire characters are omitted, but since most of the book tells of Crusoe's solitary sojourn on the island, this is not a major problem. This version is no substitute for the original, but it would be a supplemental purchase in libraries where abridgements are popular.
Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, Morgan Hill, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Gr. 4-7. The latest title in the Classic Starts series simplifies Defoe's famous survival adventure story, one of the first novels ever written, reworking the tortuous prose into a relaxed, chatty style ("I felt awful") with short sentences that will be accessible to a grade-school audience. True to the 1719 original, the first-person narrative relates how Crusoe defies his parents, runs away to sea, has various adventures, and survives alone on a desert island until he finds a native man whom Robinson calls Friday. The big difference here is that the two men become friends, pals, and equals. There is not a racist word, nothing about Defoe's "savages." For contrast, to spark classroom discussion, pair this with Timothy Meis' retelling, discussed in Focus: "Survivor" (BKL Mr 1 03), which stays true to the prejudice in the original. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Defoe’s writing style continues very much as it was in the first Crusoe volume. The wording is a little archaic but is basically simple, clear, and full of detail, with a smattering of protestant religious teaching thrown in. (The Kindle version is from a 1919 edition, and I am not entirely sure whether the text is Defoe’s original wording or whether it may have been revised and edited for early 20th century taste.) As he did in the first volume, Defoe tends to write extremely long sentences, using a semi-colon in places where more modern writers would use a period; but the long sentences generally are not convoluted and are relatively easy to read. I have found surprisingly little detailed biographical information about Defoe on the internet (e.g., Wikipedia). What I have found provides no information saying that he was widely traveled and say nothing about his having traveled around the world of his day. But if he had not experienced such travel himself, then he certainly must have been working or communicating closely with a person who had that experience. I think it would be very unlikely for a writer to credibly make up the journey that he describes without some personal experience, either directly or indirectly, of what he is describing. Many of the details ring true; and even if he had access to a large library of travel documents, which I have no reason to believe he did, I cannot believe that he could develop such realistic sounding episodes without a personal experience of them. Keeping in mind that the only modes of travel at that time were by sailing ship and on foot (either the feet of beasts or the feet of men), one is impressed that anyone would travel primarily for the pleasure of the adventure. An expected journey of 5 weeks could develop into 5 months because of various unforeseen delays; and, except for a limited number of areas where letters of credit might be used, one had to transport one’s goods and money along the entire way. This would be a logistical nightmare, if not an impossibility, in today’s world. But Crusoe, through Defoe’s writing, managed to do it in a believable way. Crusoe leaves home a robust man in his early 60s and returns to England 10 years later, still robust but aged and with his thirst for further travel fully satiated. I am very glad I read the book and recommend it highly.
When we first met Robinson Crusoe, he is a thoughtless young man, in love with the idea of adventure and with no idea of the possible consequences or of his responsibilities toward his family. He goes to sea, when he encounters more than one disaster but persists in his search for adventure. Finally, his adventuring spirit will leave him a castaway on a seemingly deserted island, the only survivor of the foundering of a ship.
Luckily, Crusoe is able to salvage food, tools, weapons, and building materials from his old ship. With this starter kit, he improvises a precarious life on his island. But Crusoe is not yet safe from danger. In addition to the hazards of illness, hurricane, earthquake and loneliness, he will discover both cannibals and pirates in his neighborhood. Will Crusoe be equal to the tests of his spirit and his ability to survive? Will he ever have the chance to leave his island, and return to his family?
This Campfire Graphic Novel nicely adapts the original novel. The edited text and artwork capture the essentials of the story, including Crusoe's explicit struggle for redemption after years of wasted living. Highly recommended.
I came away with a greater appreciation for the problem solving skills, critical thinking, creativity, and physical strength that pre-modern humans had to draw on daily. As moderns, most of us plop ourselves in front of the computer screen or televsion and lead a comparatively easy life.
The inspiration in this story is Crusoe's ability to find the positive in any situation. He starts out grumbling about his isolation on the island, and his dim prospects for any rescue. He comes to see though, that he alone was saved from drowning in the shipwreck. So he comes to appreciate the very fact of life. He also comes to appreciate how he has been provided for, and that the simple things in life are most important. He comes to an increasingly deepening awareness of and faith in God. One of the only items salvaged from the ship was a Bible. Crusoe's thoughts on God and his interaction with the biblical text show how central religious faith was to the author, and the pride of place it held in most Europeans' lives at that time.