He was an English journalist, businessman, pamphleteer, secret agent, novelist. He was a puritan and had interest in trade, which influenced most of his works. He belonged to the neo-classical period and is the father of the English realistic novel.
This novel tells the story of a man shipwrecked on a desert island. It is inspired by the various accounts of sea adventures which were published on newspapers and widely appreciated by tradesman, merchants and middle class readers, who could not travel and see the world, but could immedesimate in the protagonist and live his adventure. What Defoe wrote was a realistic and detailed description of a shipwreck, meant to respect puritan values, but he was not conscious of initiating a new genre.
1st extract: Robinson is shipwrecked and manages, with struggle, to get ashore. He fights with the sea, but is not defeated by the natural force, because with his own might he reaches the shore. He is puritan, so he has faith, presence of mind, sense of self and is courageous, rational, full of resources, all characteristics that help him survive. The description is narrated through ordinary and concrete words, with long and not-so-complex sentences, a factual and straight to the point language.
2nd extract: we see Robinson dealing with the finding of a print of a naked man's foot on the shore. At first his surviving instinct prevails: he tries to look for someone who could have left the print, he's rational. But after his mind starts to wander, he is overwhelmed by fear, anxiety: he is confused, out of himself and starts to look everywhere in panic until he reaches his “castle”. The description of the print is very detailed and precise. Robinson's doubts and terror are underlined through similes, when his ability to control his feelings and being able to react is overcomed by fear. We are also put in the same situation as the protagonist: we do not know whose is the footprint, we may