Crusoe's Animals, Annotated: Cats, Dogs, and Disease in the Naval Chronicle Edition of Robinson Crusoe, 1815

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The 1815 edition of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, edited by “the Hydrographer of the Naval Chronicle,” a periodical serving as the journalistic arm of the Royal Navy, was intended to promote “a nautical point of view.” In this article, I examine the copious notes to the 1815 edition, focusing on the role of animals in the British maritime enterprise, especially cats and dogs. The notes by James Stanier Clarke illustrate both the ways that Defoe's text was read a century after its publication and the debates that helped to define Britain's maritime enterprise. Dogs aboard ship lead Clarke to a long discussion of the “cosmopolitan” strain of rabies that eventually showed up in the South Sea islands. Clarke rejects textual evidence of zoonotic transmission of the disease, either exposing the limits of his own scientific understanding or the limits of his willingness to acknowledge the role of Europeans and their shipboard animals played in spreading disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-78
Number of pages24
JournalEighteenth-Century Fiction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • animals
  • disease
  • rabies
  • Defoe
  • maritime
  • travel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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