Defoe, Tournier, Coetzee and Deconstructive Re-visions of a Myth
1 Robinson Crusoe: A Problematic Myth of the Enlightenment
1Robinson Crusoe: A Problematic Myth of the Enlightenment
A seminal novel whose influence would finally reach the entire Western world and beyond, Robinson Crusoe has become a cultural phenomenon.3 At the center of this story is the image of a heroic ← 25 | 26 → English man single-handedly surviving on an uninhabited island and transforming it into a utopian garden resembling England, the real island on which the fictional island is based. This image created by Daniel Defoe is meanwhile an image at the center of a modern myth. According to this myth, Robinson Crusoe’s feats are unparalleled. During his over twenty-eight years’ solitary residence on the island, he is able to domesticate the island and establish a colony, all by himself. In his transformation from an individual being deprived of almost everything to the king of the island, we witness in the “heroic” deeds of this single person nothing short of a supposedly historical progress of human society, albeit at a microcosmic scale, from the primitive nomadic society to a more organized agricultural society which is seconded by a capitalistic industrial society as we can surmise, considering that the colonization of the island is finished at the end of the novel. Since the eighteenth century, this fictional version of Robinson Crusoe has been regarded in the Western world, or maybe even in the whole world through the influence of Western cultural powers, as a positive role model exemplary in his dauntless courage, resourcefulness, perseverance, and versatility, a “hero” who...
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