Although Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is a novel, it purports to be a travel narrative, a genre which has always been replete with bizarre fantasies, even when the author claimed not to be writing fiction. Even Christopher Columbus, in a comparatively restrained and sober account, claimed to have seen Sirens. It is rather striking, therefore, that Defoe, who was avowedly writing fiction and could easily have filled his book with dwarves and giants, like Gulliver's Travels, or forty-foot crocodiles and trips to the moon, like Baron Munchausen, stayed strictly within the realms of the plausible.
Defoe gives a lot of detail in his writing, with specific dates and real places. This tribute to reality can be seen from the first sentence of Robinson Crusoe:
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.
Three places are mentioned, two of them unnecessary, and Crusoe goes on to provide us with...
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