Defoe, Tournier, Coetzee and Deconstructive Re-visions of a Myth
It is in the historical context of the Enlightenment ideology and colonial expansion that this book explores Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe as a cultural myth, a master narrative that presents a supposedly positive role model for dauntless courage and enterprising spirit. The hero of this myth, a rational, individualistic and productive subject supposedly exemplifying the progressive discourse of the Enlightenment, is one that lords over Friday, thus figuring a binarism of the West’s encounter with the Other, which is now deeply ingrained in the unconscious of the West.
The need for earnest and serious academic investigations of Defoe’s eighteenth century novel and its critical re-readings comes, first and foremost, from a perception of how its influence has penetrated into the cultural fabrics of today’s world. Robinson Crusoe finally becomes a myth in the twentieth century. The ideology it embodies becomes the Zeitgeist that defines the West and reaches beyond the West in terms of its influence. Daniel Defoe could not have foreseen that one day Robinson Crusoe would be elevated to a myth. Nor could he have predicted that one day Robinson Crusoe, a figment of his imagination, would reach “a pinnacle of celebrity” (Martin 1) by making its entrance into everyday parlance and becoming the equivalent to castaway and related situations. Furthermore, thanks to Robinson Crusoe’s constant reference to Friday as “my man Friday,” the phrase “man Friday” has been introduced into everyday English as well to designate a male personal assistant or servant, particularly...
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