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Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

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Advance article alerts. Article activity alert. Receive exclusive offers and updates from Oxford Academic. Citing articles via Google Scholar. Defoe also wrote about contemporary religious issues, and was charged with libel for one pamphlet that responded to a proposed bill to outlaw occasional conformity, the Shortest Way with the Dissenters Part of his punishment was to stand in the pillory, a potentially dangerous sentence as it left the prisoner vulnerable to the whims of the mob.


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However, Defoe's friends turned the public punishment into an opportunity; not only did they stand around him as he stood in the device, but the occasion was used to sell his Hymn to the Pillory , a poem that ridicules the justice system, to the public. Defoe's concern about socio-political matters frequently intersected with his love of literature, and he began publishing poetic works that dealt with issues of public concern.

His remarkable True Born Englishman , for example, is a satiric poem written to defend King William III, who had been frequently criticized for his foreign upbringing. What right, Defoe suggests in the poem, do the English people, themselves a rag-tag group of nationalities, have to criticize those who are from elsewhere?

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Another of his writing ventures was a newspaper, The Review , which was, as Paula R. Backscheider has recently noted, a "ground-breaking periodical that moved English journalism in new directions" Online DNB. For a significant period of his life, Defoe worked as a political agent and a propagandist. Indeed he was a spy for Robert Harley, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the year leading up to the Anglo-Scottish union. This involved visiting Edinburgh and Glasgow, writing to Harley to keep him in touch with Scottish sentiments on the union, and producing a number of essays and pamphlets promoting the cross-border alliance.

After the union took place in , Defoe continued as a political writer, working, at different times, for both Whig and Tory administrations.

As Defoe wrote the works that we are most familiar with now— Robinson Crusoe , Moll Flanders , Colonel Jack , Journal of the Plague Year , and Roxana —he was also producing numerous innovative texts in widely varied genres and on very different themes. For example, alongside the significant number of political pamphlets and essays produced, he published travel literature, such as The Tour thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain , commentaries on religion, such as the satirical Political History of the Devil , and self-help manuals, like The Family Instructor Defoe scholarship has been vibrant and exciting for many decades, but there is much left to do.

Backscheider has recently reminded us that less than a quarter of Defoe's works are currently in print, a dilemma that scholars are currently working to resolve. Women's Writing and the Circulation of Ideas: Manuscript Publication in England, , biography 26 : Rothman, Manuel Schonhorn and Maximillian E.

Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731)

Novak's eds. Of Steven N. Program, University of California, Davis, February Advisor, Edition of Daniel Defoe's Correspondence , ed. Nick Seager and Andreas Mueller.


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  • Claudia Kairoff and Jennifer Keith. Anthony Center for Women's Studies, Curriculum Vitae Paula R. Creative Research Award, Auburn University, , John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, calendar year American Antiquarian Society Fellowship, Senior Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities, Women of Distinction Faculty Leadership Award, Vice President, International Defoe Society, Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award, Presidential Award of Excellence, Auburn University, Who's Who Among America's Teachers, Eighteenth-Century Drama , 69 vols.

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    New York: Garland Press, completed Selected Fiction and Drama of Eliza Haywood , ed. Hall, The Plays of Elizabeth Inchbald , ed. The Plays of Charles Gildon , ed. Of Janet Todd's ed. Interview, National Geographic Program, 27 September