Defoe and the New Sciences

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In his long career as a writer Daniel Defoe never tired of advocating the value of personal observation and experience; and he never wavered in his conviction that it is man's God-given duty to explore and make productive use of nature. In this first major study of Bacon's legacy to Defoe Ilse Vickers shows that the ideas and concepts of Baconian science were a significant influence on Defoe's way of thinking and writing. She outlines the seventeenth-century intellectual milieu, and discusses the prominence of Defoe's teacher Charles Morton among major Baconian thinkers of the century. She goes on to consider a wide range of Defoe's work, from the point of view of his familiarity with the ideals of experimental philosophy, and throws new light on the close link between his factual and his fictional works. In the process Vickers reveals a new Defoe: not only a thorough Baconian, but also a far more consistent writer than has hitherto been recognised.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is not often that a book comes out that makes so much sense that one wonders why nobody thought of it before. Such is the case with Ilse Vickers' study of Daniel Defoe. Vickers' work is useful, livel, and interesting for any facet of Defoe studies, not merely the ones she covers, since her theory can be applied to Defoe's theoretical ideas and his moral principles." British and American Literatures

"Her exposition of Baconianism in three of Defoe's major works of nonfiction, A General History of Trade, A New Voyage Round the World, and A Tour thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain, is persuasive. But it is in her approach to Robinson Crusoe that she makes her greatest contribution. Our understanding of Robinson Crusoe is enriched by this sensitive commentary." David Blewitt, 18th Century Studies

"...Vickers's book usefully discusses Defoe's symptomatic contributions to travel writing, and is especially good on how internal travel leads directly to the 'natural history' of a nation." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900

"This short study will interest both cultural and literary historians." Barbara Shapiro, Albion

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
List of abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 The legacy of Francis Bacon 9
2 The selective taking-up of Bacon's ideas; biographical sketches of five followers of Bacon 18
3 Charles Morton and the New Sciences 32
4 Daniel Defoe and the Baconian legacy 55
5 Defoe's General History of Trade: its relation to the Baconian histories 81
6 Robinson Crusoe: man's progressive dominion over nature 99
7 A New Voyage Round the World: Defoe the traveller-scientist by sea 132
8 Defoe's Tour: a natural history of man and his activities 151
Appendix 177
Bibliography 182
Index 193
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