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by Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

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Go to answers.com and type keyword "Defoe"
Read about Defoe's life and works, then check your comprehension

Can you find the following information?

1. When was "Robinson Crusoe" written?
2. What was the exact title?
3. Was "Defoe" Daniel's real name?
4. Which work brought him some fame?
5. What happened after he published "The Shortest Way with Dissenters"?
6. How many periodicals did he work with?
7. Was he young when he started writing novels? (romans)
8. Which real man inspired the character of Robinson?
9. Was that man shipwrecked too? (naufragé)
10. Did he want his name to appear on the cover of his books?
11. Find 3 features that characterize his writing.

Read the "Biography" section again and find the words corresponding to these definitions :

word 1 - a person who writes pamphlets
(a pamphlet is a small book about a problem of public interest)

word 2 - having no success

word 3 - can't pay his debts

word 4 -
a wooden framework on a post, with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly locked to be exposed to public scorn as punishment

word 5 - destruction of a ship, usually accidental as a result of hitting rocks or sinking


Extract from the opening page
"I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznear; but by the usual corruption of words in England we are now called, nay, we call ourselves, and write our name, Crusoe, and so my companions always called me."

- Daniel Defoe
Robinson Crusoe - Chapter One "Start in Life"

Robinson Crusoe is an Englishman from the town of York in the 17th century. Encouraged by his father to study law (1), Crusoe says he prefers going to sea. His family disagrees with (2) Crusoe. He decides to run away with a friend and they embark on a ship bound for London. During a terrible storm, Crusoe nearly died. His friend is dissuaded from sea travel, but Crusoe still wants to work as a merchant on a ship.
The second voyage is not lucky : the ship is seized by (3) Moorish pirates, and Crusoe is enslaved (4) in the North African town of Sallee. While on a fishing expedition, he and a slave boy (5) break free and sail down the African coast. A friendly Portuguese captain picks them up, buys the slave boy from Crusoe, and takes Crusoe to Brazil. In Brazil, Crusoe establishes himself as a plantation owner (6) and soon becomes successful. Interested in slave labor (7) and its economic advantages, he embarks on a slave-gathering expedition to West Africa but ends up shipwrecked (8) off of the coast of Trinidad. Robinson is the only survivor. He manages to make it to (9) the shore (10) of an island.
Robinson remains on the island for twenty-seven years.
About fifteen years after his shipwreck hee sees a footprint (11). He later observes cannibalistic savages (12) eating prisoners. One day he saves a young savage whom he names Friday (13). He is extremely grateful (14) and becomes Robinson's devoted servant (15). After many adventures and discoveries they go back to England.

(1) law : le droit
(2) disagrees with : n'est pas d'accord avec
(3) is seized by : est saisi par
(4) is enslaved : est fait prisonnier
(5) slave boy : esclave
(6) plantation owner : propriétaire d'une plantation
(7) slave labor : travail des esclaves
(8) shipwrecked : naufragé
(9) make it to : atteindre
(10) shore : rivage
(11) footprint : une empreinte de pas
(12) savages : des sauvages
(13) whom he names Friday : qu'il nomme Vendredi
(14) grateful : reconnaissant
(15) devoted servant : serviteur dévoué

Abridged extract - Worksheet 01 .pdf format

"I clambered up (1) the cliffs (2) of the shore (3), and sat me down upon the grass, free from danger, and quite out of the reach of the water. I was now landed, and safe (4) on shore, and began to look up and thank God that my life was saved.

I walked about on the shore reflecting upon (5) all my comrades that were drowned (6), and that there should not be one soul (7) saved but (8) myself. I began to look round me to see what kind of place I was in
, and I soon found I had a dreadful deliverance (9), for I was wet, had no clothes to shift me, nor anything either to eat or drink to comfort me, neither did I see any prospect (10) before me but that of perishing with hunger (11), or being devoured by wild (12) beasts
and I had no weapon (13) either to hunt and kill any creature for my sustenance, or to defend myself against any other creature. In a word, I had nothing but a knife, a tobacco-pipe, and a little tobacco in a box.

Night coming upon me, I began to consider what would be my lot (14). I resolved to sit all night in a thick bushy tree (15) and consider the next day what death (16) I should die."


(1) clamber up : grimper, se hisser vers
(2) cliffs : falaises
(3) shore : rivage
(4) safe : en sécurité
(5) reflect upon = think of : penser à
(6) drowned : noyés
(7) soul : âme
(8) but : sauf, à l'exception de
(9) dreadful deliverance : délivrance, fin affreuse
(10) prospect : espoir, perspective
(11) hunger : la faim (hungry : affamé)
(12) wild : sauvage
(13) weapon : arme
(14) lot : sort, destin
(15) thick bushy tree : arbre épais et touffu

(16) death /e/ : la mort (to die /ai/ : mourir) (dead /e/ : mort)

Abridged extract - Worksheet 02 .pdf format

Read the abridged extract and find the following information :

1. Where does the scene take place ? Quote 2 or 3 words
2. Is this text extracted from the beginning, the middle or the end of the novel ? Quote
3. How many characters appear in the text ? Give the name(s)
4. How does the character feel in the first paragraph ? Quote
5. Does he feel the same in the second paragraph ? Quote
6. Give 4 problems he thinks about. Quote
7. What moment of the day is it ? Quote
8. What does he decide to do at the end of the text ? Explain in your own words


quote : citer le texte
(when you quote the text, you have to use " " : inverted commas)

character : personnage de fiction
to feel : ressentir

Abridged extract - Worksheet 03 .pdf format

Writing paper – topic and instructions

> Imagine you were in the same position as Robinson Crusoe on the desert island, just after the shipwreck.
> Write your own narrative in the preterite.
> What did you see ? What did you do ? What did you think ? How did you feel ? What did you decide ? …
> You can use a dictionary.
> About 12 lines



Match the pictures with the descriptions


Can you put the 8 illustrations in the chronological order?


Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe
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