Accessibility navigation

Robinson Crusoe and the natural mechanick

Bullard, P. ORCID: (2019) Robinson Crusoe and the natural mechanick. Études anglaises: revue du monde anglophone, 72 (2). pp. 182-195. ISSN 1965-0159

Text - Accepted Version
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.3917/etan.722.0182


In recent studies of Robinson Crusoe there has been a revival of interest in the material culture of Defoe’s novel—its handling of crafted objects, of building and dwelling, of desert island things. These responses have tended to find a positive attitude in Defoe’s material representations. This essay questions the increasingly received reading of Crusoe as homo faber and complete natural technologist. It finds instead a sustained strand of irony running through all of Defoe’s commentary on mechanical processes and cultures of manufacture. It also suggests a positive reason for Defoe’s scepticism. He presents a scheme of material production in which the basic components of manufacture—labour, raw materials, instrumental ends, time—are perfectly legible and deducible to the reasoning observer. Consequently he must make sure that there is no intervening layer of personal knowledge, of artisanal mystery or ornament, that might obscure this conjectural vision.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:83539
Publisher:Belles Lettres


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation