Sidharth Vardhan

Coetzee’s retelling of Foe’s Robinson Crusoe

“We must make Friday’s silence speak, as well as the silence surrounding Friday.” Defoe /Daniel Foe’s novel Robinson Crusoe was Coetzee’s childhood favorite novel. At first, he had thought it was a memoir of the title character. In fact, Foe published the book as an account of a real castaway. The realization that the character was fictional, this intermixing of real and fictional, had a huge impact on him. Besides this novel, Coetzee also visited the Robinson Crusoe in the short story he read as Nobel prize acceptance speech, ‘He and His Man’. The theme of which can be summed up in the following quote (from ‘Foe’): “Cruso rescued will be a deep disappointment to the world; the idea of a Cruso on his island is a better thing than the true Cruso tight-lipped and sullen in an alien England.” That is the case here as well. Besides being an adventure novel, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (I haven’t read the book) is a symbol of British Nationalism in its worst form “He is the true prototype of the British colonist. … The whole Anglo-Saxon spirit in Crusoe: the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, the persistence, the slow yet efficient intelligence, the