Academic Reading 20
The author of “Robinson Crusoe”, Daniel Defoe, was born into a family who were Dissenters, who did not believe in certain practices of the Church of England. Young Daniel was brought up in the strict yet independent beliefs of the Dissenters. At 14 he was sent to a Dissenters’ academy. In addition to the traditional Latin and Greek, he studied French, Italian, Spanish, and history and became especially well educated in geography. He studied for the ministry, but instead of becoming a priest in 1685 he went into business. Engaged in foreign trade, he visited France and lived in Spain for a time. Meanwhile he was writing and speculating financially, but Defoe was more interested in writing than in conducting business. His lively mind was taken up with problems of the day. In pamphlets, verse and periodicals, he called for reforms and advances in religious practices, economics, social welfare and politics. In his “Essay on Projects”, he suggested a national bank, reformed bankruptcy laws, asylums and academies of learning. He stressed the need for tolerance, often using satire for emphasis. In 1702 he wrote a pamphlet titled “The Shortest Way with Dissenters”, satirizing the persecution of Dissenters. The government arrested him. After some months in prison, he was released through the influence of Robert Harley, a statesman who became his patron. In 1704 Defoe started The Review, a periodical. It vas the first of many such periodicals with which Defoe was connected — forerunners of the modern newspaper. As people of that era did not care for fiction, Defoe wrote ‘true histories’ of pirates and thieves, spicing facts with imagination. In 1719 he published “Robinson Crusoe”, which was drawn from the experiences and memoirs of a British sailor, Alexander Selkirk.
1- From the information in the passage, we can assume that ‘Robinson Crusoe’ was ………. .
A) an accurate historical account of British piracy
B) a mixture of fact and fiction describing adventures at sea
C) the handwritten diary of the British sailor Alexander Selkirk
D) a pamphlet about the cruel treatment of Dissenters
E) Daniel Defoe’s first periodical
2- Defoe became a writer, although, as mentioned in the passage, ………… .
A) he had been a pirate
B) he had been unable to pay his debts
C) he preferred speculating on the stock market
D) he knew relatively little about geography
E) he had trained to become a priest
3- We learn from the passage that, in order to emphasise the problems of his time, Defoe would ………. .
A) preach to religious congregations
B) use his great knowledge of geography.
C) write in French, Italian and Spanish
D) ridicule established practices
E) make fun of the statesman Robert Harley.