Any new study of Daniel Defoe’s fiction has to establish itself as worthwhile, novel and provocative. The strongest temptation when faced with this insistent dramatisation of escape is to read it as an allegory of the author’s own career. It is possible to see the aura of Defoe’s own imprisonments, arrests and deliverances in the turbulent adventures of his characters, and indeed there is one clear occasion where Defoe invites just such a reading. The experience of reading one of Defoe’s pseudo-autobiographies is that of observation and semi-participation in an adventure. The fantasies are minutely detailed, and grounded in recognisable circumstance, but the tales remain romances, giving the audience some re-working of their own experience without the accompanying pressure. Defoe’s notions of trade here become inherently political, and also become indicative both of the audience he sees himself as addressing, and the duties he has towards that audience.