Defoe’s fiction may look like a mere appendage to his pamphleteering and poetic career, in its evasion of direct political statement. Defoe’s fluctuating fortunes would be worth a study in themselves, as an illustration of the way English puts forward its values. Whilst the main enterprise of establishing a canon is still continuing, and whilst Defoe is sometimes in and sometimes out, it is useful to examine the aims sought by the canon. Defoe’s energy or innovativeness may compensate for his dubious behaviour, but he seems to start off with a severe handicap. Yet, surely what has just been said is in itself very insensitive to Defoe’s cultural position. The distinction between popular literature and serious literature is too strongly emphasised by the critical tradition, and made too absolute, but it is not a wholly recent invention. It is obvious that popular literature is always much more easily grouped into genres than high literature.