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Daniel Defoe (1660 - 1731)

Related: 1600s literature - 1700s literature - banned books - British literature - Robinson Crusoe (1719)

Contemporaries: Mary Delarivier Manley - Jonathan Swift - Giambattista Vico

Robinson Crusoe (1719) - Daniel Defoe
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Daniel Defoe (1660 [?] 1731) was an English writer, journalist and spy, who gained enduring fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest practitioners of the novel and help popularize the genre in England. He is also a pioneer of economic journalism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Defoe [Nov 2005]

Robin Crusoe is a candidate for the first English-language novel and it illustrates the not so prestigous beginnings of the novel because due to the public's disapproval of "invented" stories, Daniel Defoe presented Robin Crusoe as a true story, as told by Robinson Crusoe himself.

Moll Flanders (1722) - Daniel Defoe

He also wrote Moll Flanders (1722), a picaresque first-person narration of the fall and eventual redemption of a lone woman in 17th century England. She appears as a whore, bigamist and thief, lives in The Mint, commits adultery and incest, yet manages to keep the reader's sympathy. Both this work and Roxana, The Fortunate Mistress (1724) offer remarkable examples of the way in which Defoe seems to inhabit his fictional (yet "drawn from life") characters, not least in that they are women.

Moll Flanders was banned by the index of the Catholic church, and has been called a bildungsroman.

Comparison with Fanny Hill
Also, Fanny herself does not, like Roxana or Moll Flanders, repent. She has no remorse for her education in sex, although she does realize that she is being exploited. Further, Fanny acts as a picaro, for as a prostitute she shows the wealthy men of the peerage at their most base and private. Samuel Richardson and Daniel Defoe had written about women forced into compromised situations before, and they had hinted graphically enough that the subversive and erotic context was present, but neither made their heroines women of pleasure. Neither of them imputed to their women any joy in their situation, whereas Cleland does. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_Hill [Nov 2005]

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moll Flanders

Roxana (1724) - Daniel Defoe

Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress Or, a History of the Life and Vast Variety of Fortunes of Mademoiselle De Beleau, Afterwards Called the Countess De wintselshei (1724) - Daniel Defoe [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Roxana (1724), Defoe's last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own "wicked" life as the mistress of rich and powerful men. Endowed with many seductive skills, she is herself seduced: by money, by dreams of rank, and by the illusion that she can escape her own past. This edition uses the rare first edition text, with a new Introduction, detailed Notes, textual history and a map of contemporary London.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. --via Amazon.com

Defoe returned to the subject of fallen women with an even more salacious Roxanna. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moll_Flanders [Jun 2005]

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