Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions : His Life and Ideas

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Oxford University Press, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 756 pages
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Daniel Defoe, best known as the author of Robinson Crusoe, lived during a period of dramatic historical, political, and social change in Britain, and was by any standard a superb observer of his times. Through his pamphlets, newspapers, books of travel, and works of fiction he commented onanything and everything, from birth control to the price of coal, from flying machines to academies for women, from security for the aged to the dangers of the plague. In his fiction he created a type of vivid realism that powerfully influenced the development of the novel. The publication of workssuch as Robinson Crusoe are major events because they shape the ways in which we see our world, so that ever afterwards thoughts of desolation and desert islands immediately evoke Defoe's masterpiece. We should not be surprised: Defoe always wrote to make things happen. During his career as anauthor, he was a provocative pamphleteer, journalist, and poet; but when he was not writing, he was, at times, a spy and a double agent, a revolutionary and a dreamer. He was variously hunted by mobs with murderous intent and treated as a celebrity by the most powerful leaders of the country.Imprisoned four times or more, pilloried and reviled by his enemies, through it all he never lost confidence in his ability as a writer and thinker. Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions is the first biography to view Defoe's complex life through the angle of vision that is most important to us as modern readers--his career as a writer. From his earliest collection of brief stories, which he presented to his future wife under the sobriquet Bellmour,to his Compleat English Gentleman, left unpublished at his death, Defoe was pre-eminently a creator of fictions. This life gives us, for the first time, a full understanding of the thought and personal experience that went into such great works as Crusoe, Moll Flanders, and Roxana.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - stillatim - LibraryThing

I was excited for this--Novak has written some really interesting articles on Defoe. Interesting, well-written, well-argued and so on. This book... not so much. This is *strictly* an academic research ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tungsten_peerts - LibraryThing

This is a solid, well-written biography of Daniel Defoe, who proves to have been quite an interesting fellow. I would recommend having a reasonably serious Defoe-interest before tackling this book ... Read full review

Contents

After the Revolution
11
The Education of a Dissenter
32
Meditating on Matters Spiritual and Secular
51
Marriage and Rebellion
73
Financial Woes and Recovery
101
Propagandist for William III
120
The TrueBorn Englishman and Other Satires
142
An Age of Plot and Deceit of Contradiction and Paradox
168
These Dangerous Times Or Wild Doings in This World
386
A Miserable Divided Nation
411
A Change of Monarchs and the Whigs Revenge
436
Times When Honest Men Must Reserve Themselves for Better Fortunes
464
Corrector General of the Press A Digression on Defoe as a Journalist
490
The Year Before Robinson Crusoe Intellectual Controversies and Experiments in Fiction
513
Robinson Crusoe and the Variability of Life
535
After Crusoe Pirate Adventures Military Memoirs and the South Sea Scandal
565

From Pilloried Libeller to Government Propagandist
189
Writing History Sheet by Sheet Defoe The Review and The Storm
213
From Public Journalist to Lunar Philosopher
237
Defoe as Spy and Whig Propagandist
262
A True Spy in Scotland
289
In Limbo Between Causes and Masters
313
Journalism and History in An Age of Mysteries and Paradoxes
338
How to Sell Out While Keeping Ones Integrity Somewhat Intact in That Lunatick Age
360
Creating Fictional Worlds
593
Describing Britain in the 1720s
624
Enter Henry Baker
648
Last Productive Years
674
Sinking Under the Weight of Affliction
695
WORKS CITED
707
INDEX
741
Copyright

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About the author (2001)


Maximillian E. Novak is Professor of English Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was written numerous books and essays on Defoe's writing and thought. He lives in Hollywood, California.

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