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Notable Notes
December 2017

Solitude and Sunshine in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

Author Affiliations
  • 1Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
  • 2Children’s National Medical Center, Department of Dermatology, Washington, DC
JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(12):1338. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3993

The publication of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe1 in 1719 marks the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre. The novel is known for adventures of shipwrecks and survival, pirates and prisoners, slaves and Spaniards, loss and loneliness, for its allegories of civilization, and for its cultural relativism.2 However, among battles with cannibals and conquerors, Crusoe’s recurring battle with the sun is one of his biggest concerns, equal to his need to eat and drink, to find shelter, and to evade enemies: “Though it was true that the weather was so violently hot that there was no need of clothes, yet I could not go quite naked—no, though I had been inclined to it, which I was not—nor could I abide the thought of it, though I was alone. The reason why I could not go naked was, I could not bear the heat of the sun so well when quite naked as with some clothes on; nay, the very heat frequently blistered my skin.”1(p93)

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