The History and Remarkable Life of the Truly Honorable Col Jacque, Commonly Call'd Col Jack

by Daniel Defoe
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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 506

Although Daniel Defoe is remembered chiefly for ROBINSON CRUSOE, in its own time, THE HISTORY OF COLONEL JACQUE attained great popularity. Defoe declared that his twofold purpose was to show the ruination of youth through lack of proper training and to prove that a misspent life may be redeemed by repentance. The novel opens on a theme similar to that of OLIVER TWIST but follows a line of development modeled after GIL BLAS. Although a rogue, Colonel Jack aspires to win back his good name, and in the end, he succeeds. Defoe, in the fashion of his day, gave the novel a grandiose title: THE HISTORY AND REMARKABLE LIFE OF THE TRULY HONOURABLE COLONEL JACQUE, VULGARLY CALLED COL. JACK, WHO WAS BORN A GENTLEMAN, PUT ’PRENTICE TO A PICK-POCKET, WAS SIX AND TWENTY YEARS AS A THIEF, AND THEN KIDNAPPED TO VIRGINIA; CAME BACK A MERCHANT, WAS FIVE TIMES MARRIED TO FOUR WHORES, WENT INTO THE WARS, BEHAVED BRAVELY, GOT PREFERMENT, WAS MADE COLONEL OF A REGIMENT, CAME OVER AND FLED WITH THE CHEVALIER, IS STILL ABROAD COMPLETING A LIFE OF WONDERS, AND RESOLVES TO DIE A GENERAL. The end of the novel does not fulfill, however, the promise of the title.

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At its very commencement, the English novel indicated the direction of its subsequent development. In THE HISTORY OF COLONEL JACQUE as well as in his other novels, Defoe detailed the adventures of the rogue, society’s outcast, in his attempt to find station, security, and identity in culture. Therefore, even at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the novel was a democratic, middle-class genre, growing out of the political and social rise of that class. It is middle class in its concern for wealth and station; it is democratic in its insistence that power, which lay in aristocratic hands, be dispersed and allowed to filter down to the parvenus.

Typically, Colonel Jack is an...

(The entire section contains 506 words.)

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