"Cast Away" (Footnote)

Carrol Cox cbcox at SPAMilstu.edu
Thu Jan 4 14:33:19 MST 2001

Louis Proyect wrote:

> Next we turn to Daniel Defoe, whom Marxist literary critic Annette
> Rubinstein regards as the father of "the greatest art form originated by
> the bourgeoisie--the novel."

Nope. Aphra Behn (1640-1689). First woman to earn her living as
a professional writer. Author of  _Oroonoko: or The History of the
Royal Slave_, with as good a claim as any work to being the first
novel.  Defoe is an important literary figure, but not as a predecessor
of the novel.

> Very much the product of Oliver Cromwell's
> movement,

? He was born in 1660. Cromwell died 1658.

> Defoe started life as a merchant, an important fraction of the
> class that this movement helped to empower.

The ruling class in Defoe's lifetime were the great Whig Lords,
capitalist landowners. Most of the great merchants also came
from landowning families. Defoe was a tradesman, not a
merchant. He was also a spy for Walpole for many years.
See the footnotes in tthe Twickenham Edition of Pope's "Moral


P.S. Re "The Shortest Way with Dissenters," a curiosity in the
history of irony. No one recognized that it _was_ irony, and
it was attacked by Dissenters and defended by a few of the
more hidebound adherents to the Anglican Church. Hence when
the hoax was revealed it made _everyone_ angry as hell, Dissenters
and High Churchmen alike. So both sides wanted him punished.

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