I’m reading an extraordinary book by an equally extraordinary writer who, extraordinarily, knew the previous plague extraordinarily well.
| Discouraging review ... The astonishing writer Daniel Defoe suffers a form of critique that thankfully isn't practised these days. |
llustration by duncan1890.
For a start, what an astonishing writer.
I have a literature degree but I confess that Mr Defoe was never on my book list and wouldn’t be even now but for a moment of curiosity while reading Robinson Crusoe.
Had you asked me last week about the adventure story, I fear I probably would have been fairly dismissive.
|Crusoe's home ... A pictorial map of Crusoe's island, the 'Island of Despair', showing incidents from the book. photoscan by J. Kenneth Van Dover; original artist unknown - http://www.newberry.org/smith/slidesets/images/10-1.jpg 'Pictorial map of Robinson Crusoe's island, published in Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe'|
I blame my father, totally unfairly, too, of course.
Hardly beyond toddlerhood, I saw via my Dad’s 9.5 mm projector the very early silent film Robinson Crusoe more than once.
This was long before TV, of course, and it’s fair to say that my father mesmerised his growing family with the flickering movies which back then felt close to experiencing miracles.
I was recalling a voyage of mine that ended in the loss of a yacht and many days in a shark-harassed liferaft, and for some reason that turned my mind to Robinson Crusoe and the introduction to films, movies, in early childhood.
And that prompted me to see whether a very imaginative plot was backed up by good writing, and sparked some great discoveries I'd prevously overlooked.
I asked Project Gutenberg for a copy of Robinson Crusoe, and as usual received it in a couple of clicks. And I looked at the opening paragraph with skimming very much in mind.
What a surprise. Not only is it a clever story, brilliantly plotted, but it reads really well for us now, what, not so far from four hundred years later.
The current plague year
It snowballed me into another tale of his, A Journey of the Plague Year, and it reads excellently and makes a perfect subject for we locked down readers of the current plague year.
What a gifted writer! Looking online for some notes about the author’s life, I soon discovered that like his stories, he was far from ordinary.
‘The author of Robinson Crusoe, who dealt with ups and downs as an entrepreneur, also penned one of history’s most useful business manuals,’ Daniel Akst revealed in Strategy + Business
Mr Defoe's brilliant writing is available gratis online and, as you might well gather, is thoroughly recommended.
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