Robinson Crusoe attempts to come to terms with his Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures (1719) and its sequels by retroactively injecting Providence into the story, but other supernatural forces exert more active narrative agency. With a subtle language of hints, impressions, and passive cogitation, Daniel Defoe implicates middling spirits as interlocutors who contact Crusoe at key moments. Unlike Providence, which Crusoe invokes to help order experience from the vantage of retrospection, a secret converse of spirits confronts characters before they make decisions, and this communication ultimately steers the plot. Crusoe, in turn, becomes apparitional as he projects an identity outside of the fictional frame without clarifying how his story is at once allegorical and historical. This double spectrality of spirits who influence realistic characters and realistic (but invented) characters who assert a kind of existence in society suggests a haunted narratology in the rise of verisimilar fiction, from the proto-novelistic Spectator papers to the sentimental novels of Samuel Richardson.


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pp. 239-261
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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