Robinson Crusoe, written by Daniel Defoe, is said to be the first English Novel. Here I quote the critic David Fausett: “With its common hero, pseudo-authentic style, and focus on ideological problems of materialism and individualism, it has been widely seen as the first modern realist novel”. It is Daniel Defoe’s most famous novel; it was published in 1719. Robinson Crusoe can be seen as a fictional autobiography written from a first-person point of view, apparently by an old man looking back on his life. The Novel is in fact “based” upon Scottish mariner Alexander Selkirk’s experience. He had lived alone on a desert island for 4 years. Back in England, he met with a journalist Richard Steele who interviewed him about his adventures and wrote a much-read article in the newspaper The Englishman. It was published in December the 1st of 1713 so 6 years before Robinson Crusoe’s publication.
The excerpt we have studied is the incipit of the novel. It is the first chapter; it introduces Robinson Crusoe Ab Ovo and presents his background to the reader. (Ab Ovo: Latin for –from the egg- contrary of In Medias Res). Robinson Crusoe, the protagonist of the novel, is born in the year 1632 in the city of York in England. One of his two brothers dies in battle and the other disappears. As a result, his father wants to make sure his third son will not go away from him, and so, he tries to make a lawyer out of him. However, Robinson’s only will is to go to sea, despite the protests of his family. His father totally disapproves of this idea and warns his son against it. This warning sets the tense tone of the entire novel and foreshadows the bad fortune that will follow Crusoe through much of the novel. In this explication de texte, we will show you how Defoe’s introduction is based on 3 different levels. I-The introduction to Robinson Crusoe as a character
II-The introduction to the English Society
III-The introduction to Robinson Crusoe, the book...