This year Nancy, my friendly partner in crime, and I decide to start an epic project to read our way through a survey of classic literature. Both of us are products of a somewhat less than stellar US public school system and at least one of us (me) was a bit of a slacker in high school. As such, we both feel we have gaps in our education when it comes to being widely read.
We’re about five books in so far, and I’ve most recently finished Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. (For the curious, our previous books were Don Quixote, Paradise Lost, and Pilgrim’s Progress.)
Honestly, this has been my favorite book so far. First, it was a refreshing break from heavy religious themes and symbolism. I also have a huge love for survivalist literature. I don’t know if I was the only one, but as a kid I devoured any books I could get on the subject — Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves to name a few. I’m honestly surprised I hadn’t read Robinson Crusoe before now.
However, as an adult, I couldn’t help but cringe at this book. In between the adventure and fascinating tales of how one might survive with only a few tools and the natural world, was a ton of casual racism. While I know this is was owing to the time the book was written, it’s hard to read a narrative that refers so casually to slaves, savages, and dehumanizes non-white characters.
That said, I still kind of wonder what it would be like to get shipwrecked on a desert island. Or at least, go live on a farm in the middle of nowhere for a while …