Updated: Jun 29
Birth: 1660, London, United Kingdom
Death: 24 April 1731, London, United Kingdom
Daniel Defoe was born in London in 1660. He lived a life full of various difficulties and dangers. He participated in the uprising launched in 1685 against the second James, king of England. He worked as a merchant, fabricator, government official and even a spy at various times in his life.
He decided to work as a journalist at the age of 40 and started writing novels a few years later. Daniel Defoe presented dozens of well-known works such as "Robinson Crusoe", "Moll Flanders" and "A tour thro 'the whole island of Great Britain" to the world of literature. He went to jail many times for his hard attitude in the political booklets he published. He died in London, where he was born in 1731.
Written in his fifties, after a career in journalism and article writing, Daniel Defoe created a story, based on an incident in the news. As with most efforts of this sort in the first half of the 18th century, it was presented as a real story, not as fiction. It is a descriptive masterpiece, the story of what an Englishman would be and do; smart diligent and practical, doing what needs doing. It is very literary for an early book, a novelistic footprint on the then empty sands.
There is no interiority at all. Robinson Crusoe does things, has schedules and a calendar and a diary of unusual events, but no personal thoughts or interior insight. He has a Bible, but he's not really religious except once in a while. He has a slave, but also was a slave and escaped. Mostly a page turner, with a few parts ok to skim through, it is one of the first stories about a regular person written for the emerging middle class. Today, there are hundreds of novels with similar topics, but this was not the case in the 18th century. For this reason, we can additionally call it the first novel set in a desert island.
In every man, there is a boy, and in every boy, there is Robinson Crusoe. Handy work around the house needs improvising tools and working methods of your own, and that is when you remember Crusoe...
“I have since often observed, how incongruous and irrational the common temper of mankind is, especially of youth ... that they are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action for which they ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are ashamed of the returning, which only can make them be esteemed wise men.” /Daniel Defoe
“Thus we never see the true state of our condition till it is illustrated to us by its contraries, nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it.” /Daniel Defoe
“Those people cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them because they see and covet what He has not given them. All of our discontents for what we want appear to me to spring from want of thankfulness for what we have.” /Daniel Defoe
“It put me upon reflecting how little repining there would be among mankind at any condition of life, if people would rather compare their condition with those that were worse, in order to be thankful, than be always comparing them with those which are better, to assist their murmurings and complaining.” /Daniel Defoe
“Redemption from sin is greater then redemption from affliction.” /Daniel Defoe
“It is never too late to be wise.” /Daniel Defoe
“All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.” /Daniel Defoe
“All evils are to be considered with the good that is in them, and with what worse attends them.” /Daniel Defoe
“Wait on the Lord, and be of good cheer, and he shall strengthen thy heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.” /Daniel Defoe
“But, he says again, if God much strong, much might as the Devil, why God no kill the Devil, so make him no more do wicked? I was strangely surprised at his question, [...] And at first I could not tell what to say, so I pretended not to hear him...” /Daniel Defoe