Robinson Crusoe


Daniel Defoe

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Robinson Crusoe: Style 1 key example

Explanation and Analysis:

Defoe's style in Robinson Crusoe can be described as simple yet detailed, observational, and direct. It is possible to assume that this style comes from his background in journalism. Although the demands and conventions of fictional prose differ greatly from those of journalistic texts, Defoe to a certain extent unites these two genres in Robinson Crusoe. His narrator and main character is a kind of foreign correspondent who he has sent out into the world to examine and report back on what life is like as a sailor, as a captive in Northern Africa, as a plantation owner in Brazil, and last but not least as a survivor on a desert island. For Defoe, the novel is a report of the human experience. Although Robinson's life is not a particularly ordinary example of the human experience, Defoe presents his story with a journalistic lens, somehow finding a way to make his exceptional narrative relatable to any reader.

In addition, Defoe's style is shaped by the genre of literary realism. In art and literature, the goal of realism is to create a detailed and unembellished depiction of nature and life. Rather than being imaginative or sentimental, realist texts should function as frank observations of outward appearances—life as it is rather than as it should be. Thus, literary realism seems to be a very appropriate category to include Robinson Crusoe in. Instead of rich or sentimental descriptions of his surroundings and life events, Defoe includes—one might even say dwells on—the more banal parts of Robinson's experiences.