Monday, September 17, 2012

"Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe

Book club is tomorrow, so I didn't finish this book with much time to spare!  I would never have pulled it off if I hadn't listened to the CDs.  If I were reading a hard copy, it would have taken me a loooooong time.  I think I enjoyed it more as I listened to it than I would have if I read it. It's long, it's old, it's wordy.  But I liked the grandfatherly voice telling me the story.

I didn't know this was one of the oldest books printed in the English language, so that made it more interesting for me to read.  I mean, this book is nearly 300 years old!  There are not many books that old that people still read and know the general story line.  Another thing I didn't know what how religious this book was.  It accounts Crusoe's sins and conversion to Christianity, and the character elaborates in great detail his feelings on repentance and providence.  One negative to listening to this book than reading it was I missed out on noting all the quotes or passages that moved or inspired me.  There are two that I manage to remember:

"I have...often observed, how incongruous and irrational the common temper of mankind is, especially of youth, that reason which ought to guide them in such cases, [namely] that they are not ashamed to skin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action which they ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are ashamed of the returning, which only can make them be esteemed wise men." 

"It is never too late to be wise."

There were parts of the book that rankled, but they couldn't be helped.  If you consider when the book was written compared to the modern era we live in, there are just simply going to be points that will be perceived as politically incorrect.  First, the treatment of animals.  I am NOT an animal activist.  I don't like cats and dogs.  My family maintains a small fish tank and my children understand that is the extent of pet ownership we'll ever reach in this home.  But when they kill the lion but refuse to eat the meat, or tease then shoot the bear, these were both senseless and unwarranted instances of animal abuse.  (I have to keep telling myself it's just a story and not take it too seriously.)  I was also frustrated that Friday talked about the bears on his homeland of Trinidad.  I'm not an island girl, but my instinct told me bears do not reside in the Caribbean.  I did several online searches about the wildlife in Trinidad and nowhere did I find bears listed as natural inhabitants of that island.  I also asked my husband, who lived in Jamaica for two years, if there were bears in the Caribbean and he was fairly certain there were not.  And after the instances of animal abuse and incorrect accounts of island wildlife, I didn't like that once Friday was rescued by Crusoe, Friday instantly submitted himself to a Master.  I didn't like Crusoe automatically presuming ownership of another man, which Europeans seemed so fond of doing to less-developed civilizations.  But, that's just a reflection of the era in which the book was written and the world Defoe knew.

All in all, I did enjoy the core of the book, which is Robinson understanding his dependence on God.  No one sat there and told him God saved him and providence supplied his safety and needs, but he learned it himself through his own survival and began to see God's instructing Robinson in His own manner and methods.

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