Literary Qualities

Robinson Crusoe is an artistic achievement that is recognized as a major contribution to the development of English prose fiction. Especially interesting are the narrative devices that Defoe employs to lend verisimilitude-the appearance of reality-to his story.

Although Defoe is writing fiction, he creates the impression that his tale is a true story by including a preface in which he identifies himself as the editor of the tale. Also contributing to the apparent authenticity of the story are the use of a first-person narrator, the frequent mention of dates and real places in Crusoe’s account of his early life, and the inclusion of specific details and accurate descriptions.

Defoe frequently uses images drawn from everyday life and from nature, images that underscore Robinson Crusoe’s middle-class origins and tastes. The similes and metaphors draw on nature and are written in language that recalls biblical proverbs.

The book’s plot is loose, rambling, and disorganized, but it contains a rich variety of interesting or amusing or fascinating episodes, all of which display Defoe’s characteristic celebration of human ingenuity and his own superb command of detail and imagery.

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