Oct 24, 2013

Number 2, Really?

Robert McCrum in the Guardian places Robinson Crusoe at number two on his list of best novels. (Note: don't be misled like I was, originally. McCrum isn't ranking by quality. Rather, he is making a chronological list, Crusoe following Pilgrim's Progress).  It's true that the novel is a milestone in English literary history. It's appeal and mythic status is undeniable, even mysterious.

For McCrum, the novel is remarkable for three reasons: the engaging narrative voice, the biblical redemption story plot, and colorful cast of characters.

McCrum appreciates how Defoe's long career as a writer for hire put him in the position to stumble upon greatness:

 He was not a "literary novelist", and would not have understood the term, but his classic novel is English literature at its finest, and he hit the jackpot with Robinson Crusoe.