.. fictitious exploits of Carleton in the wars of Flanders, Defoe incorporates in the narrative a large proportion of authentic happenings; if he had no, he would lay open to immediate detection as a writer of fiction. “Where does he get those facts? He borrows them from histories and newspapers. In the invention of action the writer of historical fiction is always limited more or less to matters in which he will not seriously conflict with the statements of history (Tucker 47). What Arthur Secord means by this is, if Defoe wanted pass his stories as being authentic, then he should have used more real life geographical and historical facts in doing so.
His works are based on a factual event (Magill 688) that he learned about at some point in his life. What Secord meant is that Defoe should have been more accurate with historical fiction and should not have conflicted with statements of actual history. (Secord 47-48) Another thing about Defoe is that he is not “among the great creators of character, he merely antedates every event in his own life 29 years, and represents it by some adventure of Crusoe’s at that time.(Tucker 49). Thus Defoe was born in 1661, Crusoe in 1632. Defoe left college and went out into the world in 1680, Crusoe goes out in 1651. Defoe’s first political publication ..
was in 1687, on the eve of the Revolution. This beginning of his isolation corresponds with Crusoe’s shipwreck .. in 1658 .. .Why he chose 29 as the key number is not easy to say (Tucker 48). George Parker is saying that Robinson Crusoe is basically an imitation of the author’s life (Tucker 48). Not only does Defoe allow the reader to experience Crusoe’s struggles to survive, he also allows reader to look into his soul.
For example, early in his stay he discovers twelve ears of barley growing, which convinces him ‘that god miraculously caused this grain to grow without any help of seed sown and that it was so directly purely for my substance on that wild miserable place (Magill 690). This is young Crusoe being thankful for God for giving him the food that he thinks grew from no seed at all, but was a gift from god. Two paragraphs later, Crusoe said, It occurred to my thoughts that I had shook a bag of chicken’s meal out in that place, and then the wonder began to cease; and I must confess, my religious thankfulness to God’s Providence began to abate too .. . (Magill 690) This is the mature Crusoe realizing that he was wrong in his beliefs about god and that he wasn’t nearly as strong nor as in control as he thought he was (Magill 690). Some critics found the novel, Robinson Crusoe, to be enlightening and actually benefited from reading it.
One example is critic, James Beattie, and he wrote: Robinson Crusoe must be allowed, by the most rigid moralists, to be one of those novels which one may read, not only with pleasure, but also with profit. It breathes throughout a spirit of piety and benevolence; it sets in a very striking light .. the importance of the mechanic arts, which they, who know not what it is to be without them, are apt to undervalue: it fixes in the mind a lively idea of the horrors of solitude, and , consequently, of the sweets of social life, and of the blessings we derive from conservation and mutual aid; and it shows, how, by laboring with one’s own hands, one may secure independence, and open for one’s self many sources of health and amusement. I agree, therefore, with Rousseau [colleague and critic], that this is one of the best books that can be put in the hands of children (Tucker 90). He believes that the book has much more than most novels.
He says that it has profit and not just pleasure which means it teaches some sort of lesson. You get more out of it than just a story; you get a moral and sense of happiness and self esteem. Another fascinating aspect of the novel, Robinson Crusoe, was elaborated on by Isaac Disraeli, he said: Robinson Crusoe, the favorite of the learned and the unlearned, of the youth and the adult; the book was to constitute the library of Rousseau’s Emilius, owes its secret charm to its being a new representation of human nature, yet drawn from an existing state; this picture of self-education, self-inquiry, self-happiness, is scarcely a fiction, although it includes all the magic of romance; and is not a mere narrative of truth, since it displays all the forcible genius of one of the most original minds our literature can boost (Tucker 90). Isaac Disaraeli agrees that this book, due to it’s many qualities, appealed to a wide variety of people including the educated, the uneducated, the young and the old alike(Ticker 90). Ernest Baker said, Defoe is not among the great creators of character.
So far as any of his figures come to life, it is through their being chips of himself.” (Tucker 49). His two Quakers are perhaps an exception, they probably originated in some other way. The subtleties of personal disposition, the virtue of temperament, and the inner world of feelings, were to Defoe a sealed book. Baker is saying that Defoe slightly lacks the ability to create characters and events so he used events and dates, not only from his life, but from other people’s lives also. As you can see from Parker’s excerpt, even though the novel, Robinson Crusoe, was written to copy the author’s life in some ways, many author’s such as Ian Watt agree that the novel was written in a fascinating narrative form.(Tucker 49) However, Ernest A. Baker still thinks that this just showed lack of skill in being able to create fictional characters, events, and dates .(Tucker 49) All in all, even though only a small percentage, of those who read or have read Robinson Crusoe, do not understand its author, they are merely reading a dramatized and fictionalized tale of Daniel Defoe’s own life and adventures.
So to say that Robinson Crusoe is and autobiography of Defoe is a blatant untruth; but to say that the novel does not relate to Defoe’s own what so ever life is an even larger untruth. English Essays.