Robinson spends much of his time on the island alone, and thus the book is driven largely by chance, rather than cause-and-effect. But as an accessible travelogue based off a narrative that was already fashionable at the time.
There is, however, a parallel in both men’s rediscovery of the Bible.
Both Selkirk and Crusoe have a Bible with them when they’re stranded.
The American myth of the self-made man is still cherished, and individualism is the deepest religion of our land.
But the book is not simply imperialist desire in narrative form.
It spawned an entire genre (the Robinsonade), an opera, a pantomime, several new words of English jargon, and praise from the likes of Rousseau, Coleridge, Edgar Allen Poe, Virginia Woolf, and Sir Walter Raleigh.
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Karl Marx even points to Crusoe as an example of the pre-capitalist man in has never been out of print.
What made this story so mesmerizing to a Western audience?
Plot-wise, it isn’t exactly gripping, unless you are keen on detailed descriptions of fence-building. For the majority of the book, he is the only character around; we don’t get much in terms of flashbacks or relationships.
When he was a teenager, he wanted badly to go to sea, but his father forbade it.
He became a shoemaker and hated it; he was also, apparently, not very well-behaved in church.