Melvyn Bragg and guests were discussing Robinson Crusoe on BBC Radio 4's "In Our Time" this evening.
The academics on the show said he was a kind of "everyman" filled with the fears and phobias of the average human being. So how realistic was his reaction to finding gold on his shipwrecked ship when he knew he had no need for it?
Daniel Defoe wrote: "I had been now thirteen days on shore, and had been eleven times on board the ship; in which time I had brought away all that one pair of hands could well be supposed capable to bring…"
But as the wind began to rise he decided to make another trip during which: “I discovered a locker with drawers in it, in one of which I found tow or three razors, and one pair of large scissors, with some ten or a dozen good knives and forks; in another I found about thirty pounds value in money; some European, some American, some gold, and some silver coin.
“I smiled to myself at the sight of this money: o drug! I exclaimed, what art thou good for? Thou art not worth to me, no not the taking off the ground; one of those knives is worth all this heap; I have no manner of use for thee; e’en remain where thou art, and go to the bottom, as a thing not worth saving.”
“However, upon second thoughts, I took it away, and wrapping all this in a piece of canvas, I began to think of making another raft…” but didn't due to the rising storm and carried the gold with him despite the problems the extra weight caused him.