This week’s Weekly Geek challenge (courtesy of Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf) to find some fun facts about authors. I’ve been doing something like this for about a month where I do a post about an author on their birthday. So far I’ve written about E. E. Cummings, Buzz Bissinger, and Margaret Mitchell. There are a lot of birthdays coming up for the rest of November too (one every Saturday, I think). That’s good for me in my NaBloPoMo quest, but perhaps not good for people uninterested in reading about different authors!
Anyway, the author I decided to do for Weekly Geeks is Daniel Defoe because no one knows his birthday and because of the new NBC show Crusoe. Daniel Defoe wasn’t really an upstanding guy. He spent a lot of time in prison because of bad debt, and a lot of other time writing pamphlets that got him sent back to jail. Defoe wasn’t really into much except making money, but he wasn’t very good at it — when he died he was in hiding from his creditors.
Defoe’s most famous book, Robinson Crusoe, is considered by many scholars to be one of the first novels. There were lots of long books before this, but RC was the first book that used a sustained narrative, combining the genres of travel writing and spiritual autobiography. Today, most people forget the spiritual autobiography part of RC and instead like to focus on the travel adventure.
Hence we get to Crusoe on NBC. After the first episode, I couldn’t decide whether to be totally amused or completely horrified. I don’t think the people who created the show actually read the book. It’s sort of like they just looked at the pictures of the Great Illustrated Classics version of Robinson Crusoe to get an idea of a plot. When they saw pirates they decided to throw in every cliche from pirate movies. And then they watched The Swiss Family Robinson because there was a cool fort in that movie. And then they added women because, well, I don’t know where they got the women. There were no women in RC.
My favorite professor and I had a little discussion after the first episode and decided that Daniel Defoe probably would like Crusoe. The show is more than a little a little absurd but in the end is probably going to make money. I think Defoe would have appreciated that.