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“Defoe is the real father of the English novel”

DEFOE, DANIEL. The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe … [and] The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner … [and] Serious Reflections …

London: Printed for W. Taylor, 1719, 1719, 1720

Three volumes.  Frontispiece portrait, two folding maps, advertisements in all three volumes.  Fine crimson morocco gilt, all edges gilt, by Bedford.  A few insignificant repairs and stains.  A fine, tall copy in a splendid binding.

FIRST EDITIONS of all three parts.  Defoe sold the rights to Robinson Crusoe to his publisher, William Taylor, who earned a “very large fortune by it and its successors.”  Immortality, however, was reserved for the author. The book was an immediate success, and a second edition was called for just seventeen days after the appearance of this first edition.

“Defoe is the real father of the English novel in the sense that he was the first Englishman to write a truly readable, widely circulated, and permanently valuable prose story dealing with secular life” (William Trent).

“Perhaps there exists no book, either of instruction or entertainment, in the English language, which has been more generally read, and more universally admired, than the Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe” (Sir Walter Scott).

Robinson Crusoe “fixes in the mind a lively idea of the horrors of solitude and consequently of the sweets of social life, and of the blessings we derive from conversation and mutual aid; and it shows how by laboring with one’s own hands, one may secure independence” (Beattie).

“The romance of Crusoe’s adventures, the figure of civilized man fending for himself on a desert island, has made an imperishable impression on the mind of man … much of modern science fiction is basically Crusoe’s island changed to a planet” (PMM).

Provenance: H. Bradley Martin, his sale, Sotheby’s New York, 30 April 1990, lot 2757; Marshall Coyne, his sale, Sotheby’s New York, 5 June 2001, lot 59 ($97,750).

Printing and the Mind of Man 180.  Grolier 100 English Books 41.

$175,000