Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders 

Two Realistic Novels from the Augustan Age

"Robinson Crusoe" and "Moll Flanders" are two realistic novels from the British Augustan age. They both aim to realistically depict real life and the complexities of people's experiences, emotions, and relationships. Both novels are filled with facts and employ real names of ships, locations, and topography to make the narrative feel more authentic. s, places, and geography to make the stories feel more true to life.

The main character of "Robinson Crusoe" travels on a sea voyage on a ship named the "Swan" and ends up shipwrecked on an island. The novel describes the island in great detail, including the names of rivers and bays as well as the location of the island, making it feel more real. The plot is about the character's journey of discovery and progress, as well as survival.

The author takes every care to attain a sense of realism: the title page includes various real elements such as Crusoe's history, the duration of his adventures on the island, and the island's location. Robinson is credited as the author of the book, which was first published in 1719. This, combined with a preface written by an "Editor" who states the novel is a "just history of truth," served to persuade people that the book was a travelogue or a genuine first-person account written by a real person.

The plot of "Moll Flanders" takes place in many places in England and America, and the novel is renowned for its attention to detail. The work includes precise names for cities, streets, and other locations to help readers grasp the society of 18th century England. The story depicts the problems and obstacles faced by women throughout this period, as well as their attempts to survive and establish a life for themselves.

In conclusion, "Robinson Crusoe" and "Moll Flanders" are two of the most well-known and realistic novels of the Augustan period. They both have rich, relatable characters set in plausible, detailed settings. They not only entertain readers, but also provide insight into the past and how people lived. They employ a lot of real facts about ships, towns, and geography to make the narrative more authentic, which is crucial in realistic literature.

This text is intended for an audience of non-native English speaking high school students and is not exhaustive. It aims to provide a general overview of the themes and elements of realistic novels in the Augustan age, specifically in how "Robinson Crusoe" and "Moll Flanders" are examples of these novels. While efforts have been made to make the text clear and easy to understand, it should be noted that this overview is a simplified version of the complex literary works and there may be more nuances and deeper meanings to explore in the novels. Additionally, there may be other realistic novels of the Augustan Age worth studying. It is important to understand that this is just a starting point and further research and analysis is needed to gain a more complete understanding of the novels.

Vocabulary list

  • Realistic novel: a type of fiction that aims to accurately depict real life and the complexity of human experiences, emotions and relationships.
  • Verisimilitude: the appearance of being true or real.
  • Augustan age: the period of the late 1700s and early 1800s in British literature, characterized by a focus on realism, reason, and elegance in writing.
  • Robinson Crusoe: a novel by Daniel Defoe published in 1719, which tells the story of a shipwrecked man's struggles to survive on a deserted island.
  • Moll Flanders: a novel by Daniel Defoe published in 1722, which tells the story of a woman's struggles to survive and support herself in 18th-century England.
  • Historical context: the time period, social and political conditions, and historical events that surrounded the creation of a piece of literature.
  • Literary genre: a category of literature, defined by certain conventions and characteristics.
  • Literary techniques: the methods and tools used by an author in a piece of literature.
  • Literary tradition: the body of literature and literary conventions that exist within a certain time period or culture.
  • literary criticism: the study and evaluation of literature through analysis and interpretation
  • literary movement: a specific style or trend in literature that emerges over a certain period of time
  • literary scholarship : the study of literature in a scholarly and academic way.

LnT suggests

LnT useful sources that might be useful for researching realistic novels of the Augustan age: 

  1. "Defoe's Fiction: The Tall Story and the Short Story" by John Richetti. This book examines the work of Daniel Defoe, including "Robinson Crusoe," and analyzes Defoe's use of realism and verisimilitude in his writing.
  2. "The Rise of the Novel" by Ian Watt. This influential study provides an in-depth analysis of the emergence of the novel as a literary form in 18th century England, including an examination of the realistic novel of the Augustan age.
  3. "Eighteenth-Century Women Novelists and the Law of Property" by Gary Kelly. This book examines the representation of property and the law in the novels of 18th-century women writers, including "Moll Flanders" and other realistic novels of the Augustan age.
  4. "Realism and the Novel" by Michael McKeon. This book provides a broad overview of the development of realism as a literary movement, including a discussion of its origins in the Augustan age and its influence on the novel as a genre.
  5. "Augustan subjects : essays in the history of eighteenth-century literature" Edited by John Brewer and John Wiltshire, this book provides essays from different scholar about various aspects of Augustan literature and society, it cover a wide range of topics in literature and culture of the period
  6. "Realism and Narrative in the English Novel" by David Lodge, this book covers the development of English Novel from 18th century to the 20th century and how realism was used in the novelistic form during that period