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For the curious

November 30, 2018

Thinking three things about Robinson Crusoe today:

1. I had a children's version of this from Scholastic Book Club, a severe condensation illustrated by classic engravings (I don't remember by whom, but the image of Crusoe finding the footprint on the beach is clear as a bell in my mind). It was very important in inspiring me to imagine worlds and adventures beyond a little room in a little house in a little town in the proverbial middle of nowhere. Not actually to go to such places, but to imagine them, which is what I still prefer to do.
2. When I was in my twenties and getting into the films of Luis Buñuel, I sought out his 1954 adaptation, starring Dan O'Herlihy. It was, like the book, both moving and infuriating, beautifully told and horribly racist. It was one of the first times I realized that many things I'd always loved, and thought I understood, would have to be reevaluated, along with my feelings about them, and that such reevaluations should ideally continue throughout one's life.
3. Perhaps two years ago, rereading this book and researching some of the background to it, I discovered the entire fascinating story of "The Queer Dutchman." "Queer" as in gay. That I will let you find out about on your own, if you're curious—and Robinson Crusoe, for all that can be said against it, is nothing if not a book that rewards the curious.

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