We Must Keep Daniel Defoe In The Literary Cannon

1372 words - 5 pages

Daniel Defoe born in or around 1660 experienced the most complex disastrous events in England before he was seven. In 1664 a Dutch fleet attacked London, in 1665 the plague took seventy thousand lives and in 1666 the great fire destroyed Defoe’s neighborhood expect for three houses, one being his. Born to a family of dissenters a class of people who refused to conform to the Church of England, Defoe was hindered with obstacles from the start. Receiving his education from a dissenter’s school and as West indicates: “barred from Oxford and Cambridge and instead received three years of higher education under the Reverend Charles Morton, a future vice–president of Harvard University who drilled his pupils in science, modern tongues, and the intricacies of English rhetoric. Defoe learned his lessons well. He took away with him a superb prose style and a burning resentment of the upper classes who had denied him entrance to Oxbridge, coupled with a scarcely–disguised lust to join their ranks—a blend of envy and hatred common among young middle–class men even today.” Daniel Defoe was one of the first writers to utilize both fiction and nonfiction to entice as many people as possible. Therefore, Defoe should remain included in today’s literary canon due to his contributions to the early eighteenth century social and moral reform, political awareness and promotion of spiritual exploration.
Defoe's first notable publication was An Essay upon Projects, a series of proposals for social and economic improvement, published in 1697.One of Defoe’s works Robinson Crusoe, written in early eighteenth century not only had great influence at the time of its writing but continues to be a novel that is referred to in many schools around the world. At the time of its writing, merchants and other “middle class” individuals were gaining a greater access to education and were beginning to learn how to read and write. Defoe’s use of imagery written in plain informative style makes the novel an easy read. For modern times, Robinson Crusoe is a good fictional novel for teachers to refer to for its writing style and plot. The adventure plot portrays how a person that is stranded on a deserted island can survive by being self reliant– creating a home, living off the land using any materials possible to survive. “One reason Robinson Crusoe is still well-liked is that Defoe makes ordinary things seem beautiful and ordinary actions seem noble.” (SparkNotes Editors).
According to Grey, “Defoe was an important economic journalist, and one with a special interest in the English Atlantic world. Defoe's colonial ideas are teased out of the body of his economic writings and investigated, leading, finally, to a reading of literary texts, like Captain Singleton, Colonel Jack , and Moll Flanders , that belong to the Atlantic portion of his oeuvre” Tiphanie states that Defoe “tried to reform society by instilling morality and virtue in the English public. Whether fiction or...

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