A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (REVIEW)

Contrary to popular belief, Daniel Defoe is of no relation to Willem Dafoe; for starters, their last names are spelled completely differently. Second of all, Daniel Defoe was a Brit from London while Willem Dafoe is a yank from Wisconsin. The two do not even look similar.

You know, on second thought, I am not entirely sure that this was ever even a popular belief. I think I just assumed that they were related and then found out they weren’t.

My bad, guys.


This book, Robinson Crusoe, is widely considered to be the first English novel - this I know to be a popular belief. Now, when I say that, I do not mean that it was the first novel ever to be published in English. That distinction belongs to Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, although you likely would not have guessed it by the title. Indeed, it was published in a sort of strange Middle English, too, so perhaps it is not accurate to bestow the honor (if you consider this to be an honor, that is) upon this particular book.

Another potential candidate is the short novel Beware the Cat by the English poet and printer’s assistant William Baldwin (who was also known by the name Gulielmus, for some reason). This book was written in 1553 but not published until about eight years later, in 1561, due to its allegedly anti-Catholic themes (the “cat” being referred to in the title is seen by some scholars as symbolizing “Catholics”), which would not have passed the smell test during the reign of “Bloody” Mary Tudor, who was quite fond of burning Protestants at the stake. Nonetheless, it was written in a significantly more understandable form of English and, for that, it is likely much more deserving of the title “first English novel”.

But enough about all of that. Let’s get back to this English novel - Robinson Crusoe. So influential was this book that it spawned an entire literary genre known as Robinsonade, which is used to classify stories that revolve around a character who is stranded on a desert island. Think Cast Away.

What I am essentially saying is, had it not been for this novel, we would never have thought to anoint volleyballs with human names and traits. And then we would have lost a valuable form of connection. No Wilson - no nothing.

Just another ball. For shame!

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