Thursday, September 1, 2011

For Credit: Robinson Crusoe's Breakfast

As you get started on the reading for Tuesday, think about what makes Defoe's style of writing so unfamiliar and strange to us.  Read a few pages, think about the rhythm of his sentences, the kind of vocabulary he chooses, the way he wraps words around ideas--and then have a go at it yourself.

Respond to this post by describing what you ate for breakfast, as Robinson Crusoe would do so (that is, imagine that Crusoe is living your life and eating your breakfast, but using the sentence structure and vocabulary that comes naturally to him).  Then write a sentence or two articulating or describing the particular features of Defoe's prose style that seem most important to emulate (feel free to expand on, modify, or otherwise respond to the explanation that other classmates give in their responses).

Since these responses require two different things (the breakfast description that emulates Defoe AND some thoughts about his language), I'll grade it out of 5 points rather than 3, as follows--

5 points: captures Defoe's style beautifully in the breakfast description AND says something original and thought-provoking about hist style
4 points: captures Defoe's style beautifully OR says something original and thought-provoking, but not both.
3 points: solid effort to emulate Defoe but lapses into more typically 21st-century structures or vocab; accurate observations about style
2 points: weak effort to emulate Defoe OR inaccurate observations about style
1 point: you wrote some vaguely relevant words.

Deadline: Tuesday (9/6); posts before midnight on Saturday count towards Week 2; posts after midnight Saturday count toward Week 3. 


  1. On Saturday the 3rd of September I rose slowly to a warm summer's day; the sun was already shining brightly overhead, yet I still had found nothing to eat. In the kitchen I found a great many things: eggs, bread, coffee, tea. I searched for pancakes, but I could find none. I contented myself with a few eggs from my rations and a piece of bread.

    The sky became dark whilst I made my meal; once I had begun to eat, the sky opened up and began to rain. There was much rain all morning and evening.

    I think one of the more important parts of Defoe's writing is it's matter-of-fact-ness. The details and the events he tells you are very straightforward. He doesn't include his feelings in every sentence and he doesn't attempt to create flowing, moving prose. He just tells it like it is.

  2. September 3. As my consciousness awoke this morning, my eyes felt like drapes that refused the sun hitting my face. I turned my body over and lied on my stomach. And as it growled with hunger, the urge to eat and feel satiated propelled my legs to drop on to the floor. I went straight for the fridge door and saw my frozen fruit bags all lined up the way I've seen it last. I took out three bags. They were raspeberries, strawberries, and blueberries. I found my blender, and I started to pour all the various frozen fruit into it. I also added some water and yogurt. I wondered what this hodgepodge would taste like. I blended it until the mixture had no lumps. I poured myself a cup and for my roommate as well. As we drank, we realized how much we liked it and decided we will continue to drink smoothies in the morning throughout this semester. It made my heart very glad.

    I agree with Samantha in that he is very matter of factly. He tells it like it is. He gives us every detail. The mundane details too. I feel like this is so, because he is a man stranded on an island and he has nothing else to do but to try to survive (in the beginning, especially when he is first stranded). Those details that he generously give shows that those small matters become big matters since there aren't any social interaction going on for him. He doesn't have much standards influencing his life style so his didactic informative writing is just his "record" of his day. He just tells the reader exactly what he did that day. Very journalistic.

  3. September 4th: I wake up in my bed at 8:30 a.m. The sun is newly risen, and there is a humidity in the air. I go downstairs and into the kitchen. I search the numerous cabinets for a desirable cereal, but find that my appetite can only be appeased with a coffee at the present moment. My throat is dry and I am dehydrated from the heat. I decided to go out onto the patio with my coffee, seeing as it was so calm outside. I brought out my dog with me to let her explore. As I sat on the patio, I watched my dog wander around the yard, finally settling on a place to urinate. I called out to her and we returned inside.

    The writing style of Defoe is very detailed. He gives a careful account of every action the character takes. When writing Journal entries, I don't feel like Defoe incorporates many "emotions" or "thoughts", everything seems to be a literal account of action, rather than insight. He just gives the details, and allows the reader to form their own emotions on the situation at hand.

  4. The 5th of September. I now rested Gina Chinino, take advantage of the holiday. I work'd excessive hard these three weeks and am in need of relaxation. I was so amaz'd with the past days, I had a great deal of enjoyment and now in need of food for my appetite. Every day to this day I find myself weak; eating only cereal; that is until today: I cook. I found in the refrigerator a threescore eggs; work'd hard, spent time cooking; broil'd it, and eat. Alas! Much better; I had not the least thankfulness on my thoughts.

    Defoe's writing style is completely unique. Although it uses old english, it's not that difficult to understand. Robinson Crusoe is an easy read unlike Shakespeare or another different writing that uses similar language. I mirrored my journal entry after Robinson's entry. I addressed the date the same way Robinson does in his journals. I also used a lot of punctuation because I feel Defoe writes sentences that take up almost an entire page, but separates the sentences by a comma or colon. I followed his conjugation of words by taking out the "e" and adding a ' in place of it. I agree with Dayna said in her post, that Defoe seems to write things as if it were a literal account of action, not insight. After reading my short writing on breakfast, the reader is able to form their own feelings and emotions on the matter just as the reader is able to form their own emotion regarding Defoe's writing style.