2.3. Defoe and Crusoe
Daniel Defoe is honoured as the pioneer of the English realist novel (Hammond 20). He introduced into the literary tradition not only scrupulous descriptions of the reality (Hammond 21), but also believable and convincing protagonists (Hammond 67, Hammond and Regan 80). More specifically, Defoe’s writing is characterised by “purity and clarity of description, … sharp focus on things and phenomena, on sequences and exact movements” (Richetti 190). It is the combination of these elements that ensured the verisimilitude (Hammond 67) of his narratives. However, it is important to remember that Defoe’s realism was not an unbiased reproduction of the reality: in many cases, according to Richetti, “Defoe’s narrators express a subjectivity rather than an objectivity; the external world as they observe it is filtered through their responses” (186).
Robinson Crusoe, the first novel of Defoe’s (Fabricant 742), is not different in this regard. The novel combined the features of both “the adventure romance and the allegory of moral discovery” (Hammond 78), remaining, according to Richetti, “as much a novel of ideas as of personal experience” (203). In such a way, the novel is an example of the above-mentioned subjective realism. It may be this feature or the fusion of secular and religious (Richetti 188) that ensured a wide readership and, consequently, the commercial success of the novel (Keymer x). At the same time, Robinson Crusoe is also a story of survival