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Defining Genre


Robinsonade novels are named for the classic 1719 novel by Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe. These novels are sometimes referred to as "castaway" stories.  Common characteristics of these novels are:

  • a protagonist isolated from their known world
  • possible encounter with natives or hostile beings
  • feature self-reflective behaviors
  • provide a commentary on larger society

It's difficult to find a piece of literature that does not include an element of survival.  Realistic books about war, mental health, and coming-of-age all focus on an individual or groups ability to overcome obstacles. Suspense novels certainly are hinged on the survival of the characters, in opposition to the antagonist.  Similar understandings can be applied to speculative and fantasy novels. These stories are offer an example of how stories can present cross-genre, that is books that fit into more than one genre. At MG, we've chosen to place all book that feature an element of survival but do not meet the criteria of robinsonade within other genre to which they align.

A few examples available to you online:

The Classics

  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Rudolf Wyss
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • ]The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
  • The Flight of thePhoenix by Elleston Trevor
  • The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
  • Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Modern Classics

  • Hatchet (and sequels) by Gary Paulsen
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • Nation by Terry Pratchett
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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