ROBINSON CRUSOE AND "HAYY BIN YAQZAN": A COMPARATIVE STUDY (TUFAIL, DEFOE).
KeywordsDefoe, Daniel, 1661?-1731. Robinson Crusoe.
Ibn Ṭufayl, Muḥammad ibn ʻAbd al-Malik, d. 1185. Risālat Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractHayy Bin Yaqzan is a famous Arabic narrative written by the Muslim philosopher Abu Bakr Ibn Tufail in the twelfth century and translated first into Latin by Edward Pocock, the son, in 1671, then into English by George Keith in 1674, by George Ashwell in 1686, and by Simon Ockley in 1708. Ibn Tufail's work is mentioned in connection with Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, which appeared in 1719, by many critics who either accentuate or repudiate its significance as a possible source. This study goes beyond the off-hand question of derivation to compare these two analogous books, not to take part in the long-standing dispute but to inquire into the premises it stands upon and investigate its motivating grounds. After pointing out the identical settings of two men each stranded on a desert island, this study proceeds to analyze the approach of each book to the relationship between man and Nature. In the process of mastering their environments, Hayy and Crusoe awaken to the providential presence behind natural forces and learn to regulate themselves within the divine scheme and to form strong relations with God. The narratives of Ibn Tufail and Defoe share a concern not only with their heroes' solitude but also with their attitudes toward society, which threatens their sense of individuality. Whereas Hayy prefers his solitary state to immersion in human society and remains on his island accompanied only by one faithful apostle, Crusoe eagerly sails back to the world of men, although he too adjusts poorly to the spirit of society and spends the rest of his life roaming the globe. Examining the technical aspects of Robinson Crusoe and Hayy Bin Yaqzan, their narrative methods, their chronological order, their structure, style, and delineation of character, the study concludes that although the two books belong to different genres, they are still more similar than ordinarily assumed. It also finds that the question of indebtedness, which may never be resolved, is less significant than the broader similarities in cultural, political, and religious circumstances which may be at work.