Last night I was reading I am Legend by Richard Matheson and there on page 83 was a reference to Robinson Crusoe. I set the book down as I tried to call up a mental list of the books that had referenced this literary classic since the start of 2016. A few that came to mind were Atonement, The Investigation, Menfreya in the Morning and a nagging feeling that I was missing one. (Those books are out of my hands meaning I cannot verify the reference at present).
The book Robinson Crusoe has been stranded on my bookshelf for almost three years. I have been reluctant to read this work because of my Postcolonial English class in senior year of college. As someone who loves to read, analyze text, and explore the larger context of a book that class left a sour taste in my mouth. That class did not stimulate me, the reading was all over the place, and I walked away with no more sense of what Postcolonial literature meant then when I had started.
One assignment was to read an excerpt from Robinson Crusoe and come to class prepared to talk about it. I did just that. I had ideas written down, sentences highlighted, and excitement in my heart. The class discussion was miserable as the professor only focused on one senior English major. That part would not have been so bad as I’ve seen favoritism before in classes, however, the pompous attitude of the student and the obscure literary devices were the issue. All that culminated in a way no one else could express their ideas because the professor would complain, embarrassing the person, that they weren’t at a high enough level (did I mention it was a beginners course?) and express her disappointment in this group (it was only week one). I should have abandoned ship, but I didn’t. That day forward the level had been elevated leaving everyone, even myself, on an island of mental despair.The only person even mildly enjoying themselves was the senior English Major.
Enough books have referenced Robinson Crusoe to the point where I think I will give it a go. It is an important work that gives a snapshot of a time of great inequality and “man against himself.” It is not the author’s fault that one professor could not sense the level of her class and poured most of her attention on one student.
In the comment section below let me know if you ever encountered a teacher that put you off of reading and how you dealt with it. Or put a link to any postcolonial articles you have found enlightening with your thoughts on the subject.
Until next time,