Daniel DeFoe: Master of Fictions: His Life and Ideas

Overview


Daniel Defoe led an exciting and indeed precarious life. A provocative pamphleteer and journalist, a spy and double agent, a revolutionary and a dreamer, he was variously hunted by mobs with murderous intent and treated as a celebrity by the most powerful leaders of the country. Imprisoned many times, pilloried and reviled by his enemies, through it all he managed to produce some of the most significant literature of the eighteenth century.
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Overview


Daniel Defoe led an exciting and indeed precarious life. A provocative pamphleteer and journalist, a spy and double agent, a revolutionary and a dreamer, he was variously hunted by mobs with murderous intent and treated as a celebrity by the most powerful leaders of the country. Imprisoned many times, pilloried and reviled by his enemies, through it all he managed to produce some of the most significant literature of the eighteenth century.
Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions is the first biography to view Defoe's complex life through the angle of vision that is most important to us as modern readers--his career as a writer. Maximillian Novak, a leading authority on Defoe, ranges from the writer's earliest collection of brief stories, which he presented to his future wife under the sobriquet Bellmour, to his Compleat English Gentleman, left unpublished at his death. Novak illuminates such works as Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, novels that changed the course of fiction in their time and have remained towering classics to this day. And he reveals a writer who was a superb observer of his times--an age of dramatic historical, political, and social change. Indeed, through his many pamphlets, newspapers, books of travel, and works of fiction, Defoe commented on everything from birth control to the price of coal, and from flying machines to the dangers of the plague.
Beautifully and authoritatively written, this is the first serious, full-scale biography of Defoe to appear in a decade. It gives us, for the first time, a full understanding of the thought and personal experience that lie behind some of the great works of English literature.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A must, not only for fans of 18th-century literature, but for students of the political, social and religious history of the period as well."--The Economist

"Novak's compelling biography should help redeem the critical neglect Defoe's work has suffered."--Tom Paulin, London Review of Books

"Scrupulous and intelligent...a finely tuned portrait of an ambitious man often living against the flow of his world but illuminating it with extraordinary historical perspective."--Jackie Wullschalger, Financial Times

"Admirably researched and eminently readable. Mr. Novack's biography takes its place as the indispensable guide to the cultural context in which Defoe lived his life and, through his writings, attempted to negotiate it's contradictions." - -The Scriblerian

"Novak here presents an in-depth examination of Defoe's life and times. This is a definitive study of the novelist, journalist, and pamphlet writer."--Library Journal (starred reivew)

"The publication of Novak's Daniel Defoe, Master of Fiction: His Life and Ideas is a major publishing event: it represents the first authoritative biography of Defoe in the new millennium as well as a magnum opus by the leading Defoe scholar of the past forty years.... Novak presents his narrative in an engaging and graceful prose style that renders the mass of material he discusses easily accessible and comprehensible, if not often also fascinating. Novak is to be complimented in producing without question the most definitive life of Defoe in the last 270 years. It will stand as the benchmark of Defoe biographies for the twenty-first century. In sum Novak's Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions is a signal scholarly achievement, a monumental capstone to his distinguished career as a Defoe scholar."--The Age of Johnson

"[Defoe's work] now shares the stage with Backscheider's as a definitive biography, and protruding from the mass of often fanciful biographical speculation there is a mass of solid information and precise critical and historical discussion about Defoe's career as a writer." --Eighteenth-Century Fiction

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199261543
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Pages: 786
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Maximillian E. Novak is Professor of English Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was written numerous books and essays on Defoe's writing and thought. He lives in Hollywood, California.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Abbreviations
Preface
1. After the Revolution
2. The education of a Dissenter
3. Meditation of matters spiritual and secular
4. Marriage and rebellion
5. Financial woes and recovery
6. Propagandist for William III
7. The True-Born Englishman and other satires
8. An age of plot and deceit
9. From pilloried libeller to Government propagandist
10. 'Writing history sheet by sheet': Defoe, The Review
11. From public journalist to lunar philosopher
12. Defoe as spy and Whig propagandist
13. A 'true spy' in Scotland
14. In limbo between causes and masters
15. Journalism and history in 'an age of mysteries and paradoxes'
16. How to sell out while keeping one's integrity (somewhat) intact in that 'Lunatick Age'
17. These dangerous times
18. 'A miserable divided nation'
19. A change of monarchs
20. Times when honest men must reserve themselves for better fortunes
21. Corrector general of the press
22. The year before Robinson Crusoe: intellectual controversies and experiments in fiction
23. Robinson Crusoe and the variability of life
24. After Crusoe: pirate adventures, military memoirs, and the South Sea scandal
25. Creating fictional worlds
26. Describing Britain in the 1720s
27. Enter Henry Baker
28. Last productive years
29. Sinking under the weight of affliction
Works cited
Index

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