Peter Washington

Islands Unto Themselves

Crusoe’s Secret: The Aesthetics of Dissent

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Tom Paulin tells us in his introduction to Crusoe’s Secret that the book had its genesis in a desire to write about Defoe, but many of the essays he reprints here began as reviews of other writers. This is a louring prospect for reviewers, not least because it involves them in the postmodern cliché of reviewing a book of reviews which are themselves about reviewers reviewing reviews ad infinitum. Fortunately, a germ of the Defoe book survives in the theme linking these essays, which explore dissent in English and Anglo-Irish culture. This is a fascinating, wide-ranging brief which takes Paulin from seventeenth-century religion to twenty-first-century politics.

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