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Fears, Apprehensions and Conjectures

Suspense in Robinson Crusoe

Riccardo Capoferro    La Sapienza Università di Roma    



The importance of Robinson Crusoe in the origins of the novel depends not only on its progressive plot and empirical style, but also on its pioneering narrative devices. Defoe’s work is characterised, in particular, by a new approach to the creation of suspense, considered by narratologists as one of the universals of narrative. This approach is based on a consistent, highly diversified use of hypothetical thinking. Crusoe’s emotionally charged previsions have the function of presenting possible plot developments, staging, and causing, the oscillation between fear and hope that is characteristic of suspense. Defoe’s work with suspense shows that epistemological change, in particular the rise of the modern notion of probability, had relevant implications also at the level of narrative discourse.

18 Dicembre 2017
11 Ottobre 2017
10 Settembre 2017

Keywords: SuspenseHypothetical thinkingProbabilityRobinson CrusoeEpistemologyCuriosityNarrative

Copyright: © 2017 Riccardo Capoferro. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.