Robinson Crusoe Revisited:
Literary and Intermedial Legacies of the ‘First Novel in English’
The next annual symposium of the Centre for Literary and Intermedial Crossings (CLIC) will take place on Friday 29th November 2019 and will revolve around the literary and intermedial legacies of and responses to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, to commemorate its publication exactly 300 years ago this year.
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Three centuries after its appearance in print, Defoe’s fictional autobiography of the English mariner Robinson Crusoe survives in popular memory as the story of Crusoe’s shipwreck on an uninhabited island in the Americas, although the novel is as much about Crusoe’s spiritual growth as it is about his adventures at sea and in the New World. Robinson Crusoewas not only the very first novel in English, but also gave birth to a new subgenre, as it inspired authors from across the world to write adaptations in various languages. Contemporary ‘Robinsonades’ include works by J. M. Coetzee, Muriel Spark, Michel Tournier and Derek Walcott, to name but a few of the most notable writers. Since the late 20th century Crusoe’s colonial relationship with the inhabitants of the New World has been rewritten especially from postcolonial and migrant perspectives, whether by closely addressing Defoe’s text or even by simply shifting the narrative focus from Crusoe-like figures to (formerly) colonized characters.
The 9thCLIC-day aims to explore the many literary and intermedial legacies of Robinson Crusoe especially in the English, Dutch, French, German, Spanish or Italian language domains. As the first novel in English, it counts as a prototypical catalyst of genre development and canon diversification, while at the same time, as a canonized classic, it has become an icon of Europe’s literary establishment and intellectual traditions.