The History of the Devil, Ancient and Modern; In Two Parts, with a Description of the Devil's Dwelling
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Publisher: General Books
Size: 2.36" wide x 74.41" long x 96.85" tall
Defoe was born Daniel Foe, the son of a London chandler. He changed his surname in 1703, adding the more genteel "De" before his own name to suggest a higher social standing. Long considered the father of the novel, Defoe should in all fairness share parentage with Aphra Behn and other lesser-known writers, and yet it is undeniable that, with the appearance of the immediately successful Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Moll Flanders (1722), the interior consciousness of the individual was explored in ways entirely new and the landscape of British literature was peopled as never before with a striking diversity of character and incident. Although Robinson Crusoe, with its realistic narrative of isolation and independence, is probably better known to young readers, many students prefer Moll Flanders for its dazzling yet troubling recollection of a lifetime in the London underworld, told from the point of view of a reformed criminal. Since Defoe wrote an enormous amount on all sorts of topics and since he could become a notable ironist on occasion it is difficult to know how seriously he meant readers to take the artfulness of his seeming nuances and the sincerity of Moll's late religious conversion. Nonetheless, Defoe's uniquely realistic detail, fostered by a career in journalism, and his compassionate sense of the individual courage needed to prosper in a society that was much harsher than our own, remain a legacy to later eighteenth-century novelists, and to generations of readers ever since. Notable among his other works are the novels Roxana (1724), Captain Singleton (1720), and Colonel Jack (1722).