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Defoe's Footprints

Defoe's Footprints: Essays in Honour of Maximillian E. Novak

Robert M. Maniquis
Carl Fisher
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    Defoe's Footprints
    Book Description:

    With attention to Defoe's neglected writings as well as to his important works, this volume uncovers his distance from and influence on modern literature, paying tribute to Maximillian E. Novak by presenting new ideas about, and new readings of, Daniel Defoe.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9769-0
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)
    Robert M. Maniquis and Carl Fisher

    For the last half century, Maximillian Novak has helped mightily to shape our understanding of eighteenth-century British literature. Combining literary with cultural, economic, and political history, Novak’s writings have made him one of the leading scholars not only of Defoe but also of the history of the novel and of eighteenth-century literary culture. He has had important things to say about Restoration drama, Dryden, Etherege, Congreve, the libertine spirit, the literature of sensibility, beliefs about madness, the conceptualization of the primitive, the relationship between literary representation and the visual arts, and twentieth-century Jewish-American writing. He has enlightened and inspired readers...

  4. chapter one Defoe’s Silences
    (pp. 12-31)

    I’d like to begin where Max Novak once chose to begin, with a passage he took as an epigraph for the first chapter ofRealism, Myth, and History, his third book on Daniel Defoe. The passage comes from the preface to Defoe’sContinuation of Letters Written by a Turkish Spy at Paris, published in 1718, a year before his career as novelist commenced withCrusoe. As Novak points out, the paragraph touches on questions of representation that Defoe will soon take up in his own fiction:

    It is observ’d by the Curious, that the most difficult thing in the Limners...

  5. chapter two The Atmospheres of Robinson Crusoe
    (pp. 32-54)

    Defoe – fatally – once had its protagonist ‘affirm’ that ‘the story’ ofRobinson Crusoe, ‘though allegorical is also historical.’¹ Ever since, many of the most influential readings of that story have seemed to tilt in one of three directions: towards the ‘allegorical,’ so thatCrusoeappears to be a primarily religious text indebted to allegedly residual forms of Puritan thought and experience; towards the ‘historical,’ so the same work resembles emergent forms of realist narration and presumably enlightened behaviour; and towards neither, thus both, the better to spark a decent conversation between the coming and the going.² Nonetheless, all...

  6. chapter three Poetic Footprints: Some Formal Issues in Defoe’s Verse
    (pp. 55-70)

    One of the legends about the comedian W.C. Fields is that a friend once caught him reading the Bible, apparently with rapt attention to textual detail. His response to the bewildered friend’s question about what he was doing supposedly produced the classic Fieldsian phrase, ‘looking for loopholes.’ Those who seek to honour Max Novak’s career by pacing his own fully explored turf, the writings of Defoe, face a related quest: not so much trying to catch Max in an oversight as trying to find openings where his work points to important matters that he has touched on only suggestively. The...

  7. chapter four Mimesis/mimesis and the Eighteenth-Century British Novel: Representation and Knowledge
    (pp. 71-97)

    The first word in my title refers to Erich Auerbach’s famous study of classic texts from the European literary tradition, Homer to Virginia Woolf, which features a subtitle that is breathtaking in its ambition: ‘The Representation of Reality in Western Literature.’ The second ‘mimesis’ of my title is lower case and de-italicized, since I will in due course try to describe in an Auerbachian spirit – but not, I hasten to add, with his authority and learning – how some British eighteenth-century novels are mimetic, how they represent what we can see as their ‘reality,’ or, better, how they approach...

  8. chapter five Robinson Crusoe and the Semiotic Crisis of the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 98-125)

    Maximillian Novak, whoseRealism, Myth, and History in Defoe’s Fictionconsiders the topic of myth in Daniel Defoe in relation to other possibilities, says that he began his work on Defoe by reading Ian Watt’s first essay on Defoe, ‘Robinson Crusoe: The Novel as a Myth,’ and ‘arguing against some of his conclusions.’ Michel de Certeau, whom I will discuss later, speaks ofRobinson Crusoeas ‘one of the rare myths that Occidental society has been able to create,’ and John Bender’s essay in this volume seeks to explain its role as myth.¹ The main problem, however, is to determine...

  9. chapter six Powerful Affections: Slaves, Servants, and Labours of Love in Defoe’s Writing
    (pp. 126-152)

    An incident in Daniel Defoe’sCaptain Singletonreminds us of the strange and surprising expectations that were the fabric of patriarchal governance at this time. Once on the continent of Africa, the Englishman Captain Singleton wishes to enslave some Africans. The Portuguese demur that, since the Africans have not harmed them, to enslave them would be wrong. After purposely provoking the inhabitants and waging a day-long battle, the Europeans enslave sixty ‘lusty young fellows.’ Singleton gets what he wants: able-bodied men that will make the Europeans’ arduous trek easier from southeastern Africa, where the pirates first land, across the desert...

  10. chapter seven Defoe’s ‘Black Prince’: Elitism, Capitalism, and Cultural Difference
    (pp. 153-169)

    The African section of Daniel Defoe’s novelCaptain Singleton(1720) provides us with a distinctive example of the imaginative encounter with cultural difference in eighteenth-century prose fiction. I would like to explore that example here, and use it as a means of considering the ways in which an alien culture is accommodated to the English imagination in this period, the relationship of that accommodation to class difference, its implication in assumptions about an expanding capitalist economy, and its role in the formation of primitivist Enlightenment notions of the noble savage. First of all, Defoe’s novel confronts the issue of representing...

  11. chapter eight ‘The Project and the People’: Defoe on the South Sea Bubble and the Public Good
    (pp. 170-188)

    Daniel Defoe loved a good story and often used exemplary narrative to make abstract and complicated issues more concrete. In his pamphletAn Essay on the South Sea Trade,¹ Defoe tells a story supposedly reported from the War of the Spanish Succession: English soldiers based abroad, in the hot climate of Catalonia, eat grapes and other ‘luscious fruits,’ which throw them into ‘fluxes and fevers.’ An order is passed to the army forbidding the consumption of grapes; however, ‘Two English soldiers ... transgress’d the order, and carried the punishment along with the crime, for they fell into a flux, and...

  12. chapter nine The Writer as Hero from Jonson to Fielding
    (pp. 189-205)

    When Defoe concluded, in 1708, that ‘Soldiers fight, and Schollars read, and Parsons preach; ’tis all for Money,’ he had assessed the fall from grace of his country’s ‘animating centers of society.’¹ Great Britain’s major national institutions, the army, the Church, and the university, were to continue the century-long descent that cultural change would accelerate.² The eighteenth century would be one of disintegration, fragmentation, and revolution – revolution moral, social, sexual, financial, military, economic, and institutional.³ John Richetti adds ‘epistemological and ontological.’⁴ British society had been undermined by specialization, effeminacy, and corruption.⁵ Authority had been compromised and complicated. Gibbon’s Oxford,...

  13. chapter ten Robinson Trousseau: Joyce’s Defoe
    (pp. 206-222)

    This essay is very simply about some of the accoutrements of realism that James Joyce learned from Daniel Defoe, or, if that learning curve is too constricted, that Joyce learned by being part of the tangent of realism along which Defoe also travelled as an accidental Aristotelian. Like Defoe (indeed, like Aristotle), Joyce assumes that narrative is plot driven and circumstantially designed to reflect a probable, if not actual, world. In a famous comment to a friend, Arthur Power, Joyce insists that ‘in realism you are down to facts in which the world is based: that sudden reality which somehow...

  14. chapter eleven The Novel as Modern Myth
    (pp. 223-238)

    Three novels in English have entered the vernacular of myth so fully that the authors themselves tend to be effaced and surface features of the stories tend to drop away just as myths undergo multiple permutations and become cultural icons. The three works areRobinson Crusoe, Frankenstein, andDracula. This essay is a thought experiment about the ways in which these three iconic novels may interrelate as myth, about axes that intersect in them and that have allowed them to develop the remarkable power they seem to possess over thelongue duréeof cultural time. I propose that they have...

  15. Maximillian E. Novak: A Bibliography
    (pp. 239-250)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 251-254)
  17. Index
    (pp. 255-273)