Defoe, Daniel

Tagged: Author

(1660-1731) UK merchant, professional spy and man of letters born Daniel Foe, becoming Defoe in the 1690s after he began to write; the extremely prolific author of many works of various kinds, though the huge canon of unsigned works once attributed to him has been convincingly diminished (to somewhere slightly in excess of 300 titles). He is best known today for his novel The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner (1719) and its sequels [for fuller details, see Checklist], which, while not sf, provided a fundamental model for many sf stories (see Robinsonade). A Journal of the Plague Year (1722), in effect a historical novel set in 1665, a year Defoe could presumably barely remember, is a prototype of the Disaster novel. Some supernatural stories can be found in Tales of Piracy, Crime, and Ghosts (coll 1945), including a reprint of A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs Veal, the Next Day After her Death; to One Mrs Bargrave at Canterbury the 8th of September 1705 (1706 chap), which is in fact more reportage of a claimed sighting than an actual ghost story.

Of interest as an example of Proto SF is The Consolidator: Or, Memoirs of Sundry Transactions from the World in the Moon: Translated from the Lunar Language (1705) [for savagely cut editions under vts 1705 and later, see Checklist] as by The Author of the True-born English Man, in which a mechanical but feathered spirit-driven flying machine, the Consolidator, enables various satirical (see Satire) observations to be made from a lunar viewpoint. Inventions proliferate, both on the Moon and by repute in China, but are universally introduced to make satirical points. The Moon itself is identical to Earth, though it does boast one device, a Cogitator which, when sat in, connects one's mind with clarity to the workings of the world, via a system of gears and springs. [JC/PN]

see also: Machines; Space Flight.

Daniel Defoe

born London: 13 September 1660

died London: 24 April 1731

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