Man on an Island
The most important of Daniel Defoe’s longer fictions were all published within the five years following the appearance of Robinson Crusoe in 1719. For Defoe, as a completely professional writer, made the most of the sudden and almost unparalleled popularity of that great tale of the solitary man on an island. Detail in Robinson Crusoe is, in the nature of his situation, largely material—what Crusoe retrieved from the wreck; what he found on the island; what he made, and how he made it. All of Defoe’s narratives tend to emphasize the event, the adventure, the material gain or loss, rather than the personality concerned. None of Defoe’s fictions is without a steady insistence upon its moral lesson. All are built upon single formula—the depiction in detail of a life of social remissness, vice, or crime, accompanied by running confession of the narrator’s consciousness of his wickedness, his penitence, and his reiterated advice to reader to avoid following in his footsteps.