Classic novels are classics for a reason right? Well, it certainly doesn’t seem that way sometimes. But at least with the novel The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe there is reason.
I was actually looking through my sisters garage sale this summer and found two classics that I haven’t yet read. Robinson Crusoe and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Together they were part of some “publishers set” with alike hardcovers and book size. I believe she had a couple of others to go with the set, but I really had no interest in reading them, whatever other classics they were (or maybe I already owned, who knows).
So, if you’ve read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and recommend it, let me know below. Otherwise, I will get around to it eventually as it’s on my “to read” shelf.
One of the nice things about reading old classics is the difference in tone, vocabulary and writing styles. Although, this also comes with incredibly long sentences as that seemed to be common in the day. I grew up being taught that sentences should be short else your writings may be cumbersome and hard to understand. While this is probably true in many regards, Robinson Crusoe is a very easy to read novel.
One of the particulars of this older writing style that I am fond of is the detail available about Crusoe’s actions, mannerisms and mental states. Statements like “… keep the heat of the sun off me, like an awning…” or “… being eager to view the circumference of my little kingdom…” Who talks like that anymore? It’s great to read!
If you’d like to know some of the key ideas to glean from this novel — like economic ideas on value being subjective or the effect of knowledge on our actions — check out the list of Crusoe Commentary I prepared. Because I have written further on topics there, I will not extrapolate on any Crusoe ideas here. Instead I will close with a quote from Crusoe’s father. Giving wise advice that any father would probably give. His father explained before this that their middle class existence was the best place in life for happiness. Neither the hardships of the poor, nor the pride, luxury and responsibilities of the rich. Take the quote below as you will, but I must admit, contrary to his father’s ideas, if Crusoe had never ventured to the sea he may very well have had a happier life, but his life would also have not benefited millions of people. Tough call.
“That boy might be happy if he would stay at home, but if he goes abroad, he will be the most miserable wretch that was ever born; I can give no consent to it.”
This post is the second of a short series of commentary based on quotes pulled from The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. The book was an enjoyable, pretty short and easy read. Here are some quick links to posts related to this book: Short review of the book itself, all the quotes in one place, and a list of other commentary like this one.