Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pg. 99: Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe"

The Harvard scholar Michael Shinagel, editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Robinson Crusoe (revised 1993), applied the "Page 99 Test" to Daniel Defoe's classic novel.

Part of Shinagel's findings:
If we turn to page ninety-nine in the Norton Critical Edition (second edition), we learn how Crusoe painstakingly makes an "Umbrella" for himself as protection against "the Rains" and "the Heats" on his island. His self-sufficiency prompts him to reflect:

Thus I liv'd mighty comfortably,
my Mind being resigning to the Will of God

and throwing my self wholly upon the Disposal of his Providence.

This made my life better than sociable....
Does this passage validate Ford Madox Ford's claim -- "Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you." -- and what else can we learn about the novel from it?

The Page 99 Test: Robinson Crusoe.

--Marshal Zeringue