Daniel Defoe once had a classmate named Timothy Cruso. Any guesses from whence came the name of his famous Robinson Crusoe? Defoe also apparently gained inspiration from the real-life (voluntary) abandonment of Alexander Selkirk on an island off the coast of Chile in 1704. Defoe’s imagination put the two together in 1719 and gave us the masterpiece, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner, Written by Himself. This illustration is from the 1895 edition published by Nister (London) and Dutton (NY). Having come to the realization that I am alone on island with little hope of survival, no food, no clothes, no shelter, I doubt that I would be as articulate in my reflections on my circumstances:
I now began to consider seriously my condition, and the circumstances I was reduced to; and I drew up the state of my affairs in writing, not so much to leave them to any that were to come after me, for I was like to have but few heirs, as to deliver my thougts from daily poring upon them, and afflicting my mind. And as my reason began now to master my despondency, I began to comfort myself as well I could, and to set the good against the evil…
I am cast upon a horrible, desolate island; void of all hope of recovery.
But I am alive, and not drowned as all my ship’s company was.
I am singled out and separated, as it were, from all the world, to be miserable.
But I am singles out, too, from all the ship’s crew, to be spared from death; and He that miraculously saved me from death can deliver me from this condition.
I am divided from mankind, a solitary; one banished from human society.
But I am not starved and perishing on a barren place, affording no sustenance.
I have no clothes to cover me.
But I amin a hot climate, where if I had clothes I could hardly wear them.
I am without any defense, or means to resist any violence of man or beast.
But I am cast on an island where I see no wild beasts to hurt me, as I saw on the coast of Africa; and what if I had been shipwrecked there?
I have no soul to speak to or relieve me.
But God wonderfully sent the ship in near enough to the shore, that I have got out so many necessary things as will wither supply my wants or enable me to supply myself even as long as I live.
Upon the whole, here was an undoubted testimony that there was scarce any condition in the world so miserable but there was something negative, or something positive, to be thankful for in it.
Okay, so his misery was fictional. But he is right, is he not?
By the way, Selkirk was rescued after five years. Any idea how long our fictional Crusoe was fictionally marooned?