Plagiarism, Parody, and Pastiche: Eliza Haywood writes back to Daniel Defoe and J. M. Coetzee

Laura Wright


Through an examination of the politics of print culture that contributed to the 1740 continuation of Daniel Defoe’s 1724 Roxana, this essay brings the historical 18th- century playwright, novelist, and political pamphleteer Eliza Haywood into conversation with South African novelist J.M. Coetzee’s metafictional reworking of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Roxana, Foe (1986). This essay places Haywood – whose novel The British Recluse (1722) is one of at least seven pre- existing texts that make up the “pastiche” (Seager, 2009, p. 370) that constitutes the 1740 Roxana – alongside Foe’s narrator Susan Barton, a character who constitutes “a pastiche of 18th-century heroines” (Maher 39), a woman who is “doubt itself” (Coetzee 133), uncertain of who controls the truth of her narrative, yet a woman who writes back to and against the narrative established for her by her male counterparts. Susan’s story of her life as a castaway on Cruso’s island is taken from her by Foe, Coetzee’s fictionalization of Daniel Defoe, who, instead of writing her requested The Female Castaway, writes her out of the narrative that becomes Robinson Crusoe, turning her instead into the narrator of Roxana. Spivak asks, “who is the female narrator of Robinson Crusoe?” And I answer: in a somewhat playful feminist act of resurrection, Eliza Haywood. 


literature; island; feminism; pastiche; Roxana; Crusoe; narrrative

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