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In lieu of an abstract, here are the chapter's first two paragraphs:

Everyone thinks they know the plot of Robinson Crusoe. The story of the man who is shipwrecked on an island alone is ubiquitous and feels deeply familiar, even for those who have not read it. Robinson Crusoe has been plagiarized, cannibalized, and serialized almost since the moment it hit the streets of London in 1719. Here is a passage from an Argentinean novel by Victoria Slavuski published in 1993 that captures the sense of familiarity and also the distance twentieth-century readers have in their relationship to Robinson Crusoe: “On days like these we promised each other that at long last we would take the time to read the copy of Robinson (Crusoe) that each household kept alongside the Bible and Twenty-five Ways to Prepare Lobster, written on Juan Fernandez by Amelita Riera. Nobody got past page fifteen of Robinson and almost nobody opened the Bible.”1

Literary critics often treat the multitude of twentieth-century versions of Crusoe as antagonistic to Defoe’s character. They tend to consider contemporary novels or films or poems as entities in competition with Robinson Crusoe’s fictional world. However, these modern renderings are never so neatly drawn. More often than not, writers use these alternative Crusoes to forge lines of affiliation and empathy, between the eighteenth century and our own time as well as between different regions and languages. Argentinean, Caribbean, and African Crusoes are in conversation with one another as much as they are in dialogue with the historic Defoe. Writers around the globe adapt and transform Crusoe and Defoe’s novel to establish a literary web of connection that has come to define our own global moment where fiction travels beyond national and linguistic borders. In this chapter I will move through a few observations on nineteenth-century Crusoes before delving into the twentieth-century map of literary islands crisscrossing the globe.



This material has been published in The Cambridge Companion to 'Robinson Crusoe' edited by John Richetti.

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