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A Real Robinson Crusoe
April 25, 2006 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Alexander Selkirk, born in 1676 in Lower Largo, Fife, Scotland, was the unruly seventh son of a cobbler. In 1703, having grown tired of life in his village, he was able to convince successful buccaneer William Dampier that he was the man to navigate Dampier’s next privateering expedition to South America. After a dispute with the young captain of the ship on which he served as sailing master, Selkirk was left behind on a small island 418 miles west of Valparaiso, Chile. Rescued four years later, he was the subject of several contemporary accounts of his ordeal, and likely served as one of Daniel Defoe's primary inspirations for Robinson Crusoe.
posted by killdevil (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Not to mention LOST
posted by empath at 2:45 PM on April 25, 2006


That first link is quite a story!
posted by 327.ca at 2:59 PM on April 25, 2006


By then, Selkirk was like a bearded beast on two legs, clothed in goatskins and “so much forgot his Language for want of Use, that we could scarce understand him, for he seem’d to speak his words by halves,”

People in Fife are pretty much like that nowadays.
posted by the cuban at 3:24 PM on April 25, 2006


Some people interpret Rogers' anecdote about Selkirk marking certain goats as a way of identifying those he had sex with versus those he ate. YMMV.

If he had a stock of provision on hand, he still pursued the goats as
usual, but only for his personal gratification. If he caught one, he
contented himself with slitting its ear; this was his seal, the mark
by which he recognized his free flock. During the last years of his
abode in the island, he had killed or marked thus nearly five
hundred.

posted by meehawl at 3:28 PM on April 25, 2006


this was a great read. thanks killdevil
posted by thisisdrew at 3:30 PM on April 25, 2006


Interesting!
posted by amro at 4:33 PM on April 25, 2006


Goat-notcher!
posted by mecran01 at 5:58 AM on April 26, 2006


Interesting point about Robinson Crusoe having a Christian allegory and a political subtext. Clearly, it's been a really long time since I read that novel; certainly, it was one of the first novels I read in English. Felt really grown-up when my dad handed me his dog-eared copy.
posted by the cydonian at 7:25 AM on April 26, 2006


Ach, damnit. After reading Selkirk's Island I'd been moved to post about his trevails, but never got to it. That book is an interesting tale and goes into Selkirk's off-island life in fairly good detail -- he was a man for whom the sea seemed not just a calling but a refuge.

While more romantic to charactarize Dampier as a pirate as the article does, he's correctly a privateer. As far as those with whom you have a letter of marque against are concerned, the distinction is slight, but at least someone has your back...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:01 AM on April 26, 2006


what a coincidence- I have just started reading robinson crusoe today- so far I have to say that it is worth it - informative links killdevil.
posted by Flamingoroad at 7:27 PM on April 26, 2006


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