Daniel Defoe and Robinson Crusoe

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Daniel Defoe was an extraordinary man. Although he never had the benefit of a university education, he spoke six languages and was able to read even more. His curriculum included having been a government spy, a shopkeeper, and a journalist. As the latter, he was employed by both major parties. Of course, serving two lord is impossible, so after he got into trouble with both of these parties, he turned to writing as another means of living. The first major difference between Defoe's work and most other books dating from this time is that Robinson Crusoe is really entertaining, quite exhilarating and at times even amusing to read. This is in sharp contrast to most contemporary novels which stuck to a Spartan diet of unreality and dullness, their only charm lying in the complete strangeness to anything human. Basically, most stories at the time were chronicles of wonderful, magical events, not even attempting to resemble human life at all. Robinson Crusoe was one of the first few books to have characters with whom a reader could actually identify. Therefore, it was very popular and this idea of recognition of oneself in a character in a book is nowadays only discussed when it fails, implying that it now has become a natural 'recipe' for writing any book. Most of today's popsongs become 'hits' due to a hook; a melodic chorus or instrumental piece which basically does not need to convey any meaning whatsoever. Its only function is to keep the listener listening. Defoe also had grasped the idea of a hook. Only his is fairly bigger, namely about 10 pages, than your average popsong-hook, which contains 4-5 words, if any... For sometimes the lyrics are degraded to a repeated monosyllabic sound. Defoe put this theory into practice in Robinson Crusoe. First, he has Robinson's father lecture him on `the middle station' which is apparently `the best state in the world.' Of course, this little section is only needed to charm his middle-class audience. By refusing his father's ideas, Robinson already seems like an ungrateful son in the eyes of the reader. Defoe adds more Christian morals as Robinson sinks deeper into sin. He drinks his repentance away after his first encounter with a storm, he refuses to listen to the captain who tells him 'you ought to take this for a plain and visible token that you are not to be a seafaring man.
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