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The motif of robinsonades in 'Lord of the flies'

A comparison of 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Lord of the flies'

Seminar Paper 2006 16 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Literature

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Robinsonades in general

3. Robinson Crusoe and Lord of the Flies: a Comparison

4. Conclusion

5. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The following term paper will be a comparison of Daniel Defoe´s Robinson Crusoe, which we discussed in class, and William Golding´s Lord of the flies. For most literary scholars the latter definitely is a robinsonade, which is a general term used for narrations and novels written and published after Defoe´s Robinson Crusoe. For others it is not seen as such, and some just see parts of this genre in the novel. Even if the opinions differ, it is obvious that there is a certain nearness to the robinsonades. Some aspects of the novel might make it difficult to arrange it into this genre. Conspicuous is that the different contributions are not drawn upon the same basics. The question that arises is: What is a robinsonade? This question is answered in different ways by the critics, so that this seems to be the real problem. There are considerations to this topic, which strongly lean on Daniel Defoe´s novel “Robinson Crusoe”, and which see the structure and aspects of this work not as a basis but as a guideline. Next to this there are other theories, which have a more unattached usage of this topic. They both have in common that there is no general consensus about a definition or a hold onto special criteria.

In the first part of my term paper I want to give a brief overview of the character of the robinsonade, the features of the genre, and I will present some examples I have chosen from the ocean of robinsonades that already exist. I will not refer to Defoe´s “Robinson Crusoe” in this part as much as I would like to, because this would blast my term paper. In the second part I will analyse Golding´s “Lord of the flies” in the respect of the worked out criteria, to find out whether it is a robinsonade or not. For this I will also have a deeper look in Defoe´s novel, so it will be a comparison of the novels “Lord of the flies” and “Robinson Crusoe”.

2. Robinsonades in general

Daniel Defoe´s “The life and strange surprising adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of york, mariner” was published in 1719, and the first German translation appeared in the spring of 1720.[1] The novel coined the term robinsonade, which is derived from the name of the hero of the novel and the imitation of the Robinson-story. It is a mixture of different genres because it includes elements of the following genres: adventure novel and travel writing, conversion and educational novel, and utopian novel.[2]

The first definition of the term was given by Herrmann Ullrich in 1898 in the preface of his comprehensive bibliography.[3] For him robinsonades are works:

die das Hauptmotiv des Robinson, insularische Abgeschlossenheit von der menschlichen Gesellschaft zum Mittelpunkt der Erzählung machen oder doch episodenhaft verwerten, mögen sie sich als Robinson oder Robinsonade bezeichnen oder nicht.[4]

Three decades later he formulates a new definition in his work “Geschichte eines Weltbuches”:[5]

Unter einer Robinsonade verstehen wir also eine mehr oder weniger kunstvoll komponierte Erzählung, die uns die Erlebnisse von einer Person oder mehrerer

in insularischer Abgeschiedenheit, d.h. von der menschlichen Gesellschaft und ihren Zivilisationsmitteln isolierte Lage, die nicht das Ergebnis einer sentimentalen Weltflucht ist, das Hauptmotiv oder doch als größere Episode vorführt.[6]

After Ullrich`s works the theme did not loose its fascination. A large number of definitions were made, one of these was made by Jürgen Fohrmann. He writes in his book “Abenteuer und Bürgertum“:[7]

Robinsonaden werden als Werke aufgefasst, die eine spezifische Form (für die das Insel-Motiv eine wichtige Funktion hat) der abenteuerlichen 'Lebens- und Reisebeschreibung' generieren, ein literarisches Erzählmuster, in der Reise und Biographie in typischer Form miteinander vermittelt sind und so den programmatischen Spielraum terminieren: erst das Ensemble dieser Momente kann als Robinsonade bezeichnet werden.[8]

This is a relatively open definition with which can be worked with.

A general theme in such a novel is the character. It tells the story of its life, how it, step by step, triumphs over the wilderness and creates a regulated sensefull life.[9] The characters are presented as an example for how to realise a virtuous life.[10] To close this paragraph you can read the following quotation from the opening words of “Der Leipziger Robinson“ from 1757:

Ein Leser wird sich bey deren Durchlesung nicht nur die Zeit vertreiben, sondern auch viele Lehren und Moralien finden, die er sich sehr zahlreich kan zu Nutzen machen.[11]

Another important element of robinsonades is the motif of the island, which can be either a place of refuge (Asyl) or exile. In most robinsonades the island is seen as the latter. It means isolation, emptiness, being at mercy, psychological languishment and having no possibilities of communication. But in some robinsonades the island is like paradise. It is seen as an adventure, having no obligations, being apart from society, the return to a natural live and reflections on a re-orientation in the individual, social and political fields.[12] There are even more features of this genre. Here is a summarised list[13] of them, which will be important for the second part of this term paper:

- variation of the main situation: the life of a shipwrecked person on an island
- isolation of one or more persons caused by different reasons like shipwreck, plane crash, atomic catastrophe,...
- development of survival strategies
- process of self-contemplation and regeneration
- explicit or implicit confrontation with the relation of nature and civilisation
- spatial distance helps to develop a new attitude towards the world

There are three types of robinsonades: 'real', pseudo- and 'apokryphal' robinsonades. Reinhard Stach gave a definition[14] which is useful:

Bei der Zuordnung eines Werkes als Robinsonade wird das Inselmotiv zugrunde gelegt.Der Begriff der Insel wird auf den der Eisscholle ausgedehnt, um die arktischen Robinsone auch erfassen zu können. Aufgenommen wurden auch sogenannte Aussteiger, wenn sie in Abgeschiedenheit von der Zivilisation und ohne die Möglichkeit einer direkten Rückkehr einen Inselaufenthalt durchleben.

Two examples taken from his bibliography are: Jules Verne´s “Die Schule des Robinsons[15] and Johann Gottfried Schnabels “Der deutsche Robinson”.[16] Stach continues his definition:

Wenn ein Werk eine Robinsonade enthält, ohne das der Sachverhalt

im Titel ausgebracht worden ist, ist das Buch als apokryphe Robinsonade bezeichnet.

For this type he also gives a list of robinsonades written in the 20th century; examples are:

- King, Stephen: “Der Überlebenstyp“[17]
- Lindgren, Astrid: “Pippi Langstrumpf geht an Bord“[18]
- Verne, Jules: “Zwei Jahre Ferien“; “Die geheimnisvolle Insel“; “Die Gestrandeten“[19]

[...]


[1] Brüggemann, F. (1914): Utopie und Robinsonade: Untersuchungen zu Schnabels Insel Felsenburg. Weimar: Dunker.

[2] http://www.teachsam.de/deutsch/d_literatur/d_motiv/robinsonade/robin_litwis_txt_1.htm (§1) (28.9.2006) This homepage leans on expertised, pedagogical and didactic-methodical approaches. In this exaple tha quotation is taken from: Walther Rehm u. Werner Kohlschmidt: in: Reallexikon der Deutschen Literaturgeschichte, hrsgg. v. Werner Kohlschmidt und Wolfgang Nohr, 3. Bd., 2. Aufl., 1977, S.475ff.

[3] Stach, R. (1991): Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur: eine Bibliographie. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, (Page 1 of the introduction)

[4] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. (Page 1 of the introduction)

[5] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. (Page 2 of the introduction)

[6] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. ( Page 2 of the introduction)

[7] Fohrmann, J. (1981): Abenteuer und Bürgertum: zur Geschichte der deutschen Robinsonaden im 18.Jahrhundert. Stuttgart: Metzler.

[8] Fohrmann, J.: Abenteuer und Bürgertum. (Page 49)

[9] http://www.teachsam.de/deutsch/d_literatur/d_motiv/robinsonade/robin_litwis_txt_2.htm (28.9.2006) Frenzel, Elisabeth (1976): Stoffe der Weltliteratur, 4. Aufl., Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner-Verlag 1976(p.637ff)

[10] Fohrmann, J.: Abenteuer und Bürgertum. (Page 62)

[11] Fohrmann, J.: Abenteuer und Bürgertum. (Page 62)

[12] http://www.teachsam.de/deutsch/d_literatur/d_motiv/robinsonade/robin_3_2.htm (28.9.2006)

[13] http://www.teachsam.de/deutsch/d_literatur/d_motiv/robinsonade/robin_1.htm (28.9.2006

[14] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. (Page 2&3 of the introduction)

[15] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. Page 121

[16] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. Page 117

[17] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. (Page 164)

[18] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. (Page 168)

[19] Stach, R.: Robinson und Robinsonaden in der deutschsprachigen Literatur. (Page 196/197)

Details

Pages
16
Year
2006
ISBN (eBook)
9783656134770
ISBN (Book)
9783656134923
File size
517 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v189299
Institution / College
Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald
Grade
2,7
Tags
lord robinson crusoe

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Title: The motif of robinsonades in 'Lord of the flies'