Work/ Edition Author

The word robinsonade was first used by the German author Schnabel in the preface to his utopian castaway story Die Insel Felsenburg in 1731, and until recently it has been a more common genre category in German and French literary scholarship, than in English. By now however, it seems to have entered also English literary terminology (spelled either with one or two “n”s). Definitions vary; but a quite large and useful definition that most scholars could agree upon is simply: a robinsonade is a story of a survival on a (more or less) desert island, usually after shipwreck; modelled on Defoes Robinson Crusoe. The definition needs a few remarks: Even if Defoe’s Crusoe for a long time was a solitary inhabitant of his island, later novels often tell about more than one castaway, or at least, if the hero shipwrecks alone, he or she will not spend 25 years before Friday appears. That is why a criterion of complete solitariness does not seem relevant. Also the reasons for the stranding of the heroes may differ: most often they are shipwrecked, but some of the Robinsons are just left behind, for some reason or other. They are always stranded against their own will, though. Most often there will be a reference to Defoe’s novel either in the title or elsewhere in the story, marking the generic affiliation to the hypertext.

Some scholars hold as essential criterion that the story is a first person narrative (see Blaim 1990). As the robinsonade, by the end of the 18th century, became a genre primarily of juvenile fiction, there is however a marked shift from homodiegetic to heterodiegetic narrative. The hero is still often given the possibility of expression, though – either in dialogues, because there is often a Friday, or in diaries, prayers and exclamations etc.Heterdiegetic narratives are thus included in this bibliography.