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Monday, February 21, 2011

Robinson Crusoe

(Foot Print, illustration by N. C. Wyeth,
1882-1945, American artist and illustrator)

“It happen'd one Day about Noon going towards my Boat, I was exceedingly surpriz'd with the Print of a Man's naked Foot on the Shore, which was very plain to be seen in the Sand: I stood like one Thunder-struck, or as if I had seen an Apparition.” ~ from Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731), English writer, pamphleteer, and novelist

Although commonly referred to simply as
Robinson Crusoe, the book’s complete original title as it appears on the title page of the first edition is The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un‐inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates. Written by Himself.

This novel is one example of many works originally intended for adult readers, like The Last of the Mohicans and Gulliver’s Travels, which have also, over the years, become popular as great children’s literature.

The poem today is directed at the adult reader.


Wrecked castaway
On lonely strand
Works hard all day
To tame the land,
Takes time to pray;
Makes clothes by hand.

For eighteen years
His skill he plies,
Then lo! A footprint
He espies —
“Thank God it’s Friday!”
Crusoe cries.

Take heart from his
Example, chums:
Work hard, produce;
Complete your sums;
Friday comes.

~ Michael Sagoff, American poet (1910-1998), from Shrink-Lit: Seventy of the world’s towering classics cut down to size

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