On this day… 25th April, 1719 – Robinson Crusoe first published
Although I touched on this subject in an earlier post – here, I can’t help returning to it. The Disney adaption was a favourite movie in our house as children and it always brings back fun memories.
Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published on 25 April 1719. This first edition credited the work’s fictional protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents. It was published under the considerably longer original title The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates. Epistolary, confessional, and didactic in form, the book is a fictional autobiography of the title character (whose birth name is Robinson Kreutznaer)—a castaway who spends years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers before being rescued.
About the Writing..
The story is widely perceived to have been influenced by the life of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway who lived for four years on the Pacific island called “Más a Tierra”, now part of Chile, which was renamed Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966.
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.
Did you know?
The literary genre known as the Robinsonade was derived from the popularity of this book. Robinson Crusoe was so well-received that an entire genre of desert island survivalist fiction became popular at the time.