Near death and contemplation of God from Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

Robinson CrusoeAs you may have gleaned from my recent book quotations I have been working my way through the literary classics with great gusto. I aim to present a weekly book quote on this blog every Wednesday. I’m currently reading Robinson Crusoe which ashamedly I had never read before. Talk about a page-turning adventure soaked travel journey of realistic fiction.

According to wikipedia: Robinson Crusoe was first published on 25 April 1719. The first edition credited the work’s protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents.

I read the following section this morning regarding one of his many near-death experiences and contemplation of God which struck a particular chord because I found myself in a similar predicament recently regarding my health and I was vigorously trying to find God’s place in it all. My scrambling thoughts during that event were eerily similar way to how Robinson Crusoe described his. It would be too presumptuous of me to just go right into the excerpts without shedding a little detail of the circumstances Crusoe found himself. It doesn’t do this spectacular story the least bit of justice, but at least for those readers unfamiliar with Crusoe or even for those that are it provides a refresher of sorts in order to appreciate the passage to which this post is dedicated.

Crusoe set sail from Kingston upon Hull on a sea voyage in August 1651, against the wishes of his parents, who wanted him to pursue a career in law. Even after having just survived a brutal storm in his maiden journey his lust for sea remained so strong that he sets out to sea again. After many adventures and mishaps on the high seas including being enslaved for two years and eventually escaping and soon thereafter with the help of a Portuguese captain he is able to procure a plantation. Years later, Crusoe joins an expedition to bring slaves from Africa, but he is shipwrecked in a storm about forty miles out to sea on an island (which he calls the Island of Despair). Overcoming his immediate despair as the sole survivor he is able to salvage much of the ships cargo and supplies. He even writes out a like a debtor and creditor the comforts he enjoyed, against the miseries he suffered and determines the following:

Robinson Crusoe 1
Robinson Crusoe 2

After having forged a relative comfortable existence on the island and found himself in a good disposition as the quote above alludes, Crusoe is suddenly beset by a ghastly fever:

Robinson crusoe 3Robinson crusoe 4

The fever doesn’t abate and after having a particularly wicked dream Crusoe is compelled to reevaluate his soul as it were:

Robinson crusoe 5Robinson crusoe 6

Then the following flurry of thoughts from Crusoe is what confounded me most as he viewed death before him:

Robinson crusoe 7

Robinson crusoe 8

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Reading, Reflections
16 comments on “Near death and contemplation of God from Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
  1. Tina Siuagan says:

    My last encounter with Robinson Crusoe was during my high school days. I had to read it for our English book report. Being a non-native speaker (and a teenager who would normally despise making a book report), I didn’t quite appreciate this scene.

    Until you brought it up here.

    Thanks for refreshing my memory of this wonderful work. I hope you find that “place” you’ve been looking for these days.

    • I think reading any book in which you are a non-native speaker would be difficult. I have read various books in Spanish and it can be frustrating to ascertain the nuances in some phrases. Your English certainly is much better than my Spanish. You are practically fluid, my Spanish is still in the intermediate category.
      I’m glad you appreciated this scene a lot more now. I think as one grows older and a little bit more circumspect our appreciation towards certain things change.
      Thank you so much for communicating here your experience regarding reading Crusoe.
      Oh, I don’t think we ever find that place we are looking for, rather we learn how to appreciate the journey more rather than have preconceived notions of the destination. But that’s just my take on it.

      • Tina Siuagan says:

        You certainly got me on your last paragraph. You’re right, it’s the journey and not the destination. It’s what you did to get to where you are, and had become from it, that makes it more meaningful.

      • Yes and making the most of the present moment rather than wasting it away hoping something better will come of it. I’d imagine you’d be familiar with Carpe Diem – ‘Seize the Day’ – Make your life extraordinary. This phrase was wonderfully explored in the movie, ‘Dead Poets Society’.

  2. I only read this book for the first time last year – so I was even dodderier than you. Interesting extract and personal reflection Matthew.

  3. Clever Girl says:

    I went to the Swiss Family Robinson tree house at Disneyland once when I was eight. Does that count?

    • The Swiss Family Robinson tree house! I’m elated you survived to tell the tale. Looking forward to your post on that high adventure. Hehe.

      • Clever Girl says:

        The books sounds a bit dark, is it?

      • Well he’s shipwrecked on a desert island. I don’t recall Tom Hanks doing cartwheels on that island in Cast Away. In all seriousness it’s a travelogue of sorts so there are good days and bad days. The overall tone is quite serious and there is substantial religious rhetoric (which started to grate me), but there is rarely a dull moment unless you count his thoughts in this post one of them. You probably preferred a one word answer from me than this diatribe, but shit happens (on the island as well).

      • Clever Girl says:

        haha! True. But Hanks had his buddy Wilson.

      • Hehe, yes a good prop that one. Crusoe has many pets on the Island. I’m still half way through it, but I believe he will encounter someone – is his name Friday? Not certain.

  4. badfinger20 says:

    I read this book when I was a teenager..loved it…I had forgotten about it.

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Matthew Kick

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