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September Week 4

Teen Reader

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

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Daniel Defoe

About the Author

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)

Daniel Foe was the son of James Foe, a London butcher. Daniel later changed his name to Daniel Defoe, wanting to sound more gentlemanly.  Defoe graduated from an academy at Newington Green, run by the Reverend Charles Morton. Not long after, in 1683, he went into business, having given up an earlier intent on becoming a dissenting minister. He traveled often, selling such goods as wine and wool, but was rarely out of debt. He went bankrupt in 1692 (paying his debts for nearly a decade thereafter), and by 1703, decided to leave the business industry altogether.

Having always been interested in politics, Defoe published his first literary piece, a political pamphlet, in 1683. He continued to write political works, working as a journalist, until the early 1700s.  Political opponents of Defoe's repeatedly had him imprisoned for his writing in 1713.

Defoe took a new literary path in 1719, around the age of 59, when he published Robinson Crusoe, a fiction novel based on several short essays that he had composed over the years. A handful of novels followed soon after—often with rogues and criminals as lead characters—including Moll FlandersColonel Jack, Captain SingletonJournal of the Plague Year and his last major fiction piece, Roxana (1724).

Defoe died on April 24, 1731. While little is known about Defoe's personal life—largely due to a lack of documentation—Defoe is remembered today as a prolific journalist and author, and has been lauded for his hundreds of fiction and nonfiction works, from political pamphlets to other journalistic pieces, to fantasy-filled novels. The characters that Defoe created in his fiction books have been brought to life countless times over the years, in editorial works, as well as stage and screen productions. (From


The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719)

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is the story of a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical desert island near the coasts of Venezuela and Trinidad (roughly resembling Tobago), encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers, before ultimately being rescued. The story has been thought to be based on the life of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway who lived for four years on a Pacific island called "Más a Tierra".

Questions for The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

Describe the narration style. How does it contribute to making this story seem realistic?

Compare Crusoe's dreams with his father's hopes for him. Why doesn't Crusoe follow his father's advice? Have you ever shunned good advice? Why? In retrospect, what regrets does Crusoe have?

During a terrible storm, Crusoe makes a deal with God that he will stay on land if he survives. Why doesn't he keep his promise? Think of a time that you have promised to change. Have you kept your promises? What other signs is Crusoe sent that sailing may not be for him?

Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters people you would want to meet?

How do you think you would fare if you were shipwrecked on an island without any technological tools at your disposal?


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