Selkirk's Island: The True and Strange Adventures of the Real Robinson Crusoe
ISBN 13: 9780151005260
Publication Date: 2002
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Piracy and betrayal frame the epic story of solitary endurance that inspired Daniel Defoe's classic novel. Who was the real Robinson Crusoe? And what did he really experience during his solitary stay on a remote island in the Pacific? Diana Souhami's revelatory account of Alexander Selkirk's adventures on the high seas and dry land leads us to the answers to both these questions, and explores the reality behind the romance of privateering on the high seas. Born to a poor Scottish family, Selkirk signed on with an ill-fated quest to sack the famous Manila galleon, one of the richest prizes on the southern seas. After a series of misfortunes and disagreements among the crew, Selkirk was put ashore on an island three hundred miles west of South America, where he spent four years learning to survive with little more than his bare hands. Acclaimed biographer Diana Souhami evokes all the strangeness and wonder of his story and interprets the haze created by three centuries of literature and legend. The result is a brilliantly lucid and lyrical recovery and discovery of a forgotten man and his unforgettable experience.
"The style of SELKIRK'SISLAND is spare, the tone poetic."
Sara Wheeler, Literary Review, May 2001Review:
"[Souhami] is excellent on the grim, yet ever-hopeful lives of mariners in the eighteenth century, and gives a sharp picture of the exploits of privateers in the period, and the State's rapacious involvement. In an epilogue, she returns to the island's life forms, with their lovingly invoked Latin names. Yet, against her inclinations, what is interesting about her book is not the island at all."
John Mullan, Times Literary Supplement, 08/31/2001
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