Monday, November 14, 2011

Wisdom from books and comics

Daniel Defoe in Robinson Crusoe

I now began to consider seriously my condition, and the circumstances I was reduced to; and I drew up the state of my affairs in writing, not so much to leave them to any that were to come after me - for I was likely to have but few heirs—as to deliver my thoughts from daily poring over them, and afflicting my mind; and as my reason began now to master my despondency, I began to comfort myself as well as I could, and to set the good against the evil, that I might have something to distinguish my case from worse; and I stated very impartially, like debtor and creditor, the comforts I enjoyed against the miseries I suffered, thus:

Evil: I am cast upon a horrible, desolate island, void of all hope of recovery.

Good: But I am alive; and not drowned, as all my ship's company were.

Evil: I am singled out and separated, as it were, from all the world, to be miserable.

Good: But I am singled out, too, from all the ship's crew, to be spared from death; and He that miraculously saved me from death can deliver me from this condition.

Evil: I am divided from mankind - a solitaire; one banished from human society.

Good: But I am not starved, and perishing on a barren place, affording no sustenance.

Evil: I have no clothes to cover me.

Good: But I am in a hot climate, where, if I had clothes, I could hardly wear them.

Evil: I am without any defence, or means to resist any violence of man or beast.

Good: But I am cast on an island where I see no wild beasts to hurt me, as I saw on the coast of Africa; and what if I had been shipwrecked there?

Evil: I have no soul to speak to or relieve me.

Good: But God wonderfully sent the ship in near enough to the shore, that I have got out as many necessary things as will either supply my wants or enable me to supply myself, even as long as I live.

Upon the whole, here was an undoubted testimony that there was scarce any condition in the world so miserable but there was something negative or something positive to be thankful for in it; and let this stand as a direction from the experience of the most miserable of all conditions in this world: that we may always find in it something to comfort ourselves from, and to set, in the description of good and evil, on the credit side of the account.


  1. I agree, Charles. It's one of the earliest and most profound classics I read. Hollywood went to town with the theme. Thanks for visiting.

  2. Anthony Trevor Amos25 December 2012 at 09:34

    I am a retired 75 year old English expat living in Spain.

    As a young boy I much enjoyed reading Robinson Crusoe snd was inspired by his fortitude in the face of great adversity. The book is a great tribute to its author.

    I have just stumbled across the wonderful extract posted by Prashant and am now determined to read this incredible book again. Thank you Prashant!!

    1. Mr. Amos, thank you for visiting my blog and for your kind words. ROBINSON CRUSOE remains one of my favourite classics to date. I liked the way Defoe has weaved in the philosophical element in his narrative, especially the part where Crusoe questions his survival and forlorn existence on the island and turns heavenward for succour. I hope to read this fine book again.