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The Family Instructor
By Daniel Defoe
Edited by Irving N. Rothman
Two Clothbound Volumes
Set ISBN-10: 0-404-64863-0
Set ISBN-13: 978-0-404-64863-3
The Stoke Newington Daniel Defoe Edition
AMS Studies in the Eighteenth Century, No. 63
The two volumes of Defoe’s The Family Instructor (1715, 1718), edited by Irving N. Rothman, constitute the latest additions to the Stoke Newington Edition of the Writings of Daniel Defoe.
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these volumes of The Family Instructor almost rivaled Robinson Crusoe in their popularity. They were read as statements about family piety as well as exciting works of fiction. The diarist Henry Crabb Robinson said that for a time he had decided to become a minister on the basis of his reading of these volumes. But as works of fiction depicting the passionate encounters within families, they also contain some of Defoe’s best narratives.
Like all of Defoe’s writings, The Family Instructor is deeply rooted in the history of its author’s times, and Rothman’s lengthy discussions of such subjects as the excitement caused by the eclipse of 1715 along with Defoe’s interest in astronomy and of the slave trade in relation to Toby, the young slave who raises the religious awareness of his owners, provide the reader with a full religious and cultural background to these works.
Such discussions and discursive footnotes along with a full history of textual variants make the Stoke Newington the authoritative edition of Defoe, distinguishing it from other editions, which for the most part provide only brief references. With the publication of these volumes, students of literature will be able to have a full grasp of the remarkable sweep of Defoe’s unique encounter with his age.