Crusoe's Secret, By Tom Paulin

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The Independent Culture

Paulin's lively considerations of "the aesthetics of dissent" draw together two human fundamentals: language and politics. In the title essay, we are reminded that Defoe had "a consistent belief in tolerance and forgiveness".

He was fearlessly outspoken, maintaining that Queen Anne had "no more title to the crown than my lord mayor's horse". Joyce rightly (if immodestly) saw Robinson Crusoe as our national epic: "The English Ulysses."

Paulin reminds us how phrases echo down the centuries. Milton still hits the bull's eye now: "A king must be ador'd like a Demigod... among the perpetual bowings and cringings of an abject people."