Cover of this title
Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe is the unreliable narrator of this travelogue from Restauration and Enlightenment referred to as the first English novel. The protagonist decides to go to sea against his father’s will and becoming quite a successful merchant in the colonies abroad. One day, he is shipwrecked and finds himself on a lonely island where he needs to learn to survive on his own. After some years, he encounters a group of cannibals who he knows must also live in the area and protects a young man, which he later class ‘Friday’ from the ‘savages’ (as he calls them). Together they face and master challenges while waiting to be rescued from the island…

Due to its language and attitudes, the novel is perceived as racist, imperialist and discriminatory. Therefore, teachers should handle this controversial novel carefully. However, the text remains an authentic historical testimony, which might be a useful resource, when exploring, contextualising and problematising the ideas of colonialism, imperialism and the matter of slavery. It is also worth mentioning that the text, which is in the public domain, inspired a whole new literary genre: the Robinsonade.

· · 1719

Critical edition

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. Penguin Classics, 2012.
352 pp., ISBN 9780141199061

Jump to further sections

In favour of this entry

  • Charged with meaning
  • Classic
  • Explores historical contexts
  • Recommended by a federal state: Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate

Adapted as

  • Audiobook
  • Comic
  • Easy-reading edition
  • Film
  • Graphic novel
  • Musical
  • Play
  • TV series
  • Video game