Robinson Crusoe Is Shipwrecked on an Island of Despair on September 30th

“September 30th, 1659. I, poor miserable Robinson Crusoe, being shipwrecked during a dreadful storm in the offing, came onshore on this dismal unfortunate island, which I called the Island of Despair – all the rest of the ship’s company being drowned, and myself almost dead,” Robinson Crusoe writes in his journal that he keeps till he runs out of ink.

“Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe was originally published in 1719. This is an Alma Classics edition from 2015. Photo by Beach Books.

On September 1st, Crusoe had joined an expedition to bring slaves from Africa to England, and set sail the same day. Ship wrecks in a storm not far from an island near the Venezuelan coast, close to the mouth of the Orinoco river, on September 30th. Only Robinson Crusoe, the captain’s dog and two cats survive the shipwreck. Crusoe becomes a castaway and lives on a tropical island for 28 years.

“Robinsons Kruzo” in Latvian, an edition I grew up with. An inscription reminded me that this book was given as a prize for a second place in inter-school visual arts contest in 1994 when I was 10 years old. Now in the collection of the Sea Library.

“Robinson Crusoe”, a novel by Daniel Defoe, was published in 1719 and is one of the first novels in English. Its success was so enormous that by the end of the nineteenth century it had spawned more translations and versions than any other previous English book. “Robinson Crusoe” marked the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre, and Crusoe became the fictional archetype of a castaway.

You can borrow this childhood classic, “Robinson Crusoe”, together with a book of essays “Sea Changes: Historicizing the Ocean” where you can read many interesting things, for example, how the archetype of a castaway has changed over centuries and now embodies a voluntary and even luxurious choice.

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