Property, History, and Identity in Defoe’s Captain Singleton

Daniel Defoe’s The Life, Adventures, and Pyracies, of the Famous Captain Singleton (1720) features a protagonist who has no family and no home and whose existence consists of a series of journeys. In contrast to Robinson Crusoe (1719), Defoe’s later novel explores the subjectivity of an adventurer who has not issued from the “middle way” and has no centering place that provides meaning to his actions. Singleton’s lack of self-conscious reflection and his indifference to the acquisition of property provide a suggestive model of identity that operates outside familiar paradigms of possessive individualism.