Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox, and the Creation of a Myth
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A remarkable literary hybrid—part biography, part detective story—about the enduring figure of Robinson Crusoe
Where did Crusoe come from? Frank explores the intertwined lives of two real men, Daniel Defoe and Robert Knox, and the character and book that emerged from their peculiar conjunction. January 1719. A man sits at a table, writing. Nearly sixty, Daniel Defoe is troubled with gout and mired in political controversy and legal threats. But for the moment he is preoccupied by a younger man on a barren shore—Robinson Crusoe. Several miles south, another old man, Robert Knox, sits bent over a heavy volume—published nearly forty years before. Knox’s Historical Relation was a bestseller when it was published in 1681, just a year after he escaped from Ceylon and returned to England. Where did Crusoe come from? And what is the secret of his endurance? Crusoe explores the intertwined lives of two real men, Daniel Defoe and Robert Knox, and the character and book that emerged from their peculiar conjunction. It is the biography of a book and its hero: the story of Defoe, the man who wrote Robinson Crusoe, and of Robert Knox, the man who was Crusoe.
“This is a beautifully constructed book and, ultimately, a moving one. But it is also more than fine literary sleuthwork: it finds profound echoes between its three protagonists’ lives, echoes that make their characters seem all the more three-dimensional, and full of pathos.” —The Sunday Times “The book captures the vigor, toughness, cruelty, romance and excitement of late 17th century England and its early imperial adventures.” —The Independent
Born and educated in America, Katherine Frank is the author of several acclaimed biographies—of Emily Brontë, Mary Kingsley, and Indira Gandhi. She lives in England.
From Publishers Weekly
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