Reference > Cambridge History > From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift > Defoe—The Newspaper and the Novel > His posthumous reputation
  Defoe’s last years  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

I. Defoe—The Newspaper and the Novel.

§ 25. His posthumous reputation.


He was buried in what is now Bunhill fields. The newspapers of the day took slight, but not unfavourable, notice of his death; his library was sold in due course; his reputation as a writer went into a partial eclipse which lasted until the close of the century; and then, mirabile dictu, he was hailed by admiring biographers and critics, not merely as a great writer, but as a consistent patriot and a Christian hero. Of late, it has become impossible to view him, as a man, in any such favourable light; but it seems probable that he was more sinned against than sinning, and it is coming to be more and more admitted that, as a writer and an important figure of his age, he is second only to Swift, if even to him. Some incline to regard him as the most wonderfully endowed man of his times, seeing in him a master journalist, an adroit and influential politician with not a few of the traits of a statesman, an economist of sound and advanced views, a purveyor of miscellaneous information vast in its range and practical in its bearings, an unequalled novelist of adventure and low life and, last but not least, a writer whose homely raciness has not been surpassed and a man the fascinating mystery of whose personality cannot be exhausted. It is impossible to sum him up, but those who are not satisfied with calling him “the author of Robinson Crusoe” may content themselves with affirming that he is the greatest of plebeian geniuses.   42

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Defoe’s last years  
 
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