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Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 into a family of Dissenters, that is to say a Protestant sect which refused the authority of the Church of England. He studied modern languages, economics and geography and all of the traditional subjects. His father wanted for him a religious career but Defoe went into business on his own. He suffered two bankruptcies, which he faced with both legal and illegal means, he started to write in Whig papers as a journalist, he became a famous and well-paid intellectual until the reign of Queen Anne, who didn't like his critical attitude and had him arrested, tried and imprisoned.
He made three appearances on the pillory, which turned into a triumph for him, because people threw at him flowers instead of eggs and rocks. After that, he changed party and denied his Whig ideas in order to be freed and became a secret agent for the new government, showing his opportunistic attitude. When he was about 60, and so he had developed and acquired much knowledge, he started to write novels, for example Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, Captain Singleton, Colonel Jack and Roxana.

Defoe is considered as the father of the English novel, the representative of a new social class that wanted their ideals to be portrayed in literature. His narrative technique became the basis for the development of the realistic novel: his novels are fictional autobiographies, pretending to be true stories through the detailed descriptions and memories provided by the protagonist. The structure of the novels is characterised by a series of episodes and adventures held together by the unifying presence of a single hero. There is a lack of plot because Defoe wrote only to earn money, so he wrote as many pages as possible in order to involve many people. Defoe used retrospective first person narration, the characters are presented from the inside and through their actions, they usually appear in isolation, either physically or socially, in their struggle for survival. The author's point of view coincides with the main character's because the character epitomizes the middle class puritan.
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