Crusoe's Island of misfit things

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14 Scopus citations


Focusing on Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, this essay examines the way descriptions give shape and delineated form to subjects and objects (human, animal, and thing) and work to articulate divisions between them. Taking up eighteenth-century debates over the status of description, the article focuses on the status of particular details: the skins that Crusoe fashions into his wardrobe; the botched shoes or "Pair of somethings" he contrives for his feet; the unpaired shoes that wash up on shore following the shipwreck; and the footpring he finds in the sand. In Robinson Crusoe, subject and object are mutually constituting, both in the material sense that persons and things make one another, and in the formal literary sense that Crusoe, like his readers, must struggle to work the heterogeneous elements of the novelist world into meaningful unity, making things-shoes, skins, or even footprints-fit the person, or making the person fit the thing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-471
Number of pages29
JournalEighteenth Century
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Daniel Defoe
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • description
  • detail
  • shoes
  • skin
  • skins
  • thing theory


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