Robinson Crusoe at 300: why it’s time to let go of this colonial fairytale

Defoe’s book has inspired novels, Hollywood movies and games – but the shipwrecked slave-trader should never have become a role model. … On his tight little island, Crusoe became a monarch: “My island was now peopled, and I thought myself very rich in subjects; and it was a merry reflection which I frequently made, how like a king I look’d.” The moral of the story appeared to be: work hard and trust in God and you shall have dominion over others.

Savage philosophy … Richard Roundtree (left) in the title role of Man Friday (1975) with Peter O’Toole as Robinson Crusoe. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock