Everyone has their own preferences. Whether it be preferred taste such as chocolate over vanilla, entertainment medium such as books over movies, or climate temperature such as hot over cold. Our preferences and beliefs effect how we make decisions and what we feel about certain things. However, when analyzing the impact of factors such as personal preferences, time is often an important element that is overlooked. Time is the main factor that resonated with me when visiting Wilson Library. While reading Robinson Crusoe, Foe, and Frankenstein it didn’t take a long time for me to decide whether I liked the book. As a matter of fact, it was hard for me to believe that some of the novels were/are so popular. Investigating old versions, adaptations, and appropriations of some of the popular texts that we read at Wilson library opened my eyes to how time period can affect the way that people interpret, respond, or react to novels.
A prime example of this is comparing the version of Robinson Crusoe we read in class to the versions on display at Wilson Library. I found Robinson Crusoe particularly difficult to read as it seemed repetitive, boring, and unrealistic more often than naught. Although I knew it was written between the late 17th to early 18th century, I didn’t truly acknowledge this fact before reading at the Wilson Library. Components of the novel that seemed boring to me were probably a lot more exciting to read during the period when it was written. While there are many factors that can influence this, some of the main factors include the intersection of technology and exploration. Exploration was at its height when Robinson Crusoe was published which gave the novel a sense of credibility because as people in the real world were adventuring, so was Crusoe, making it more relatable. As previously mentioned in my last blog post, the allure of the island Crusoe was stranded on is one of the reasons why the book was so popular when it was originally published. This is because contextually it made sense as the world was at its height of exploration. Yet at the same time because of this exploration it is fascinating that Crusoe managed to become stranded on an island completely uninhabited. Crusoe wasn’t able to check his surroundings with the use of technology as he did not have the technology that we use today. So, the fact that he was stranded on an island with no way to contact people makes the story more relevant to the time period in which it was written. Thus, the novel had a certain allure during that time period that it can’t replicate today. Because the world is massively populated now, and we are spread out across the globe, the desertion seems unlikely, which is probably why I didn’t really enjoy reading Robinson Crusoe. What seems unlikely and boring to me was most likely believable and exciting in the past.
To me this is also evident in George Cruikshank’s version of Robinson Crusoe that we examined at Wilson Library. The small version of the novel and the fact that it was so worn suggests that it wasn’t of the highest quality, but well used. While this can mean many things, I interpreted it as this Robinson Crusoe novel was affordable which explains why it was so popular as books were expensive during the period. I also think the intricate drawings on Cruikshank’s copy as well as how worn it was showed that it was beloved by him. This further exemplifies how time period can affect someone’s preferences and the way they respond to certain factors.