Robinson Crusoe (1719)
Daniel Defoe's classic is now synonymous with "adventure story." The
inspiration for stories ranging from "The Swiss Family Robinson" (and
by proxy "Lost in Space") to the 2000 Robert Zemeckis film "Cast Away,"
the 1719 novel remains popular almost 300 years later less because of
its epic sweep and rich analysis of moral relativism in British
colonialism, and much more because of its universal, timeless account
of self-discovery. In the course of his ship-wrecked adventure, Crusoe
goes from directionless to homeless to faithful to self-described
"King" of his own makeshift domain. Only by swearing to survive in
isolation in alien surroundings does Crusoe come to understand his
place in the world of the mainland.