Seager, NP (2019) Crusoe's Crusade: Defoe, Genocide, and Imperialism. Etudes anglaises, 70 (2). pp. 196-212. ISSN 0014-195X

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This essay reassesses Robinson Crusoe's advocacy in Serious Reflections of a pan-Christian crusade against the pagan and Muslim worlds, a mission in part evangelical and in part military, to convert to Christ those who are receptive and to cut down recalcitrant heathens. As Crusoe's experiences in The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures and The Farther Adventures indicate, Crusoe (and Defoe) was confident of winning converts in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, whereas Asia and north Africa seemed to be beyond reclamation. How sincere is Defoe in putting such a scheme in the mouth of Crusoe, that level-headed and pragmatic embodiment of Protestant Englishness? Is a broadly tolerant Defoe exposing the fanaticism that lurks just beneath the surface of Crusoe's staid religious musings and "benevolent" colonial attitudes? Using Claude Rawson's work on the instability of early modern genocidal rhetoric, and reading Crusoe's crusade in the light of shifting historical attitudes to holy war, including Defoe's own writings on colonial violence, the essay takes the proposed crusade seriously as Defoe's effort to understand the religious predicament of the world at large. Crusoe's genocidal proposal reveals the extent of Defoe's fear that Christianity was imperilled, but its articulation within a fictitious narrative indicates Defoe's latent reservations about the propriety as much as the practicability of the idea.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) will be available online via Didier at - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2019 14:35
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2021 15:04

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