Thursday, November 28, 2013

Robinson Crusoe... a fascinating book. It has pages after pages of emotion, drama, adventure, history, geography, philosophy, and human psychology.

I had read the Paico Classics' pictorial version of Robinson Crusoe. Since then, I had harboured a desire to read the original. While reading it now, the sepia-toned amazingly life-like picture strips of the comic kept coming to mind. The book was written in 1719, and so the language is quite dreary and long, so I still prefer the comic.

What the book has on the positive side is the portal to the early eighteenth century. But it made me quizzical and angry the way certain things were written. For example, Crusoe's colonial attitude towards the first human being he meets in 25 years. You would think, he would want to befriend the new person in his life, for Crusoe is really hungry for human company after two-and-a-half decades of solitude. He keeps calling him a savage and then as if that wasn't all, one of the first words he teaches the new guy is to call him 'master'.

The worst thing is that it is not even subtle. You know how for example western world can become patronising towards the eastern world without wanting to be? Or how the most liberal people turn into bigots without realising? Daniel Defoe wears his views on colonialism, racism, christianity and theology on his sleeve.

In spite of all this, the book is a roller-coaster adventure. It kept reminding me of days, especially in Auroville, when money was sparse and how I had to keep creating cheap stuff from local technology to spend as less as possible on tools and yet derive as scientifically rich a dividend as possible. Comparing myself to Robinson Crusoe would be laughable, but this is a book where you keep doing two things: imagining and reminiscing. That makes for a great work of fiction doesn't it? Where the reader can personally connect with a rare occurrence.

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