chapter  8
20 Pages

The Robinsonade as a Literary Avatar of Early Nineteenth-Century Barbary Captivity Narration

WithRobert Spindler

The best-known fictional account of Barbary captivity is probably the short episode in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, where the protagonist is captured by Sallee Rovers. The complex interrelation between the Barbary captivity narrative genre and the Robinsonade is explored in this essay, which examines a curious case: the narrative Merkwürdige Land- und Seereisen durch Europa, Africa und Asien (1807) by the Austrian Leonard Eisenschmied, who produced a factual Barbary captivity narrative that he “embellished” with a fictional Robinsonade aspect to increase its marketing potential. Eisenschmied’s text, currently the only known Austrian Barbary captivity narrative proper, demonstrates the immense impact of Defoe’s novel and the Robinsonade genre, as well as the declining popularity of the Barbary captivity narrative as an autonomous text type.