Robinsonade is a literary genre that takes its name from the 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. The success of this novel spawned enough imitations that its name was used to define a genre, which is sometimes described simply as a "desert island story".
The word "robinsonade" was coined by the German writer Johann Gottfried Schnabel in the Preface of his work Die Insel Felsenburg (1731).
In the archetypical robinsonade, the protagonist is suddenly isolated from the comforts of civilization, usually shipwrecked or marooned on a secluded and uninhabited island. He must improvise the means of his survival from the limited resources at hand. Unlike Thomas More's Utopia and romantic works which depicted nature as idyllic, Crusoe made it unforgiving and sparse. The protagonist survives by his wits and the qualities of his cultural upbringing, which also enable him to prevail in conflicts with fellow castaways or over local peoples he may encounter.
Robinson Crusoe and "robinsonades" share plot elements with William Shakespeare's The Tempest, but the story emphasis and story message are markedly different.
Robinson Crusoe was influential in creating a colonialization mythology—as novelist James Joyce eloquently noted the true symbol of the British conquest is Robinson Crusoe: "He is the true prototype of the British colonist…". Later works expanded on and explored this mythology.
Robinsonades were especially popular in Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Sears List of Subject Headings, 18th ed., Joseph Miller, ed. (New York: The H. W. Wilson Co., 2004) recommends that librarians also catalog apocalyptic fantasies -- such as Cormac McCarthy's popular novel The Road (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), or even Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1959), as Robinsonades. Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index, 22d ed. (Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc., 2003), however, excepts "The Revelation of John" and other biblical apocalyptic passages from this cataloging rule.
Ordered by date of publication
- The Female American (anon., 1767)
- Iphigenia in Tauris (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1787) (based on Iphigeneia in Tauris by Euripides)
- The Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss, 1812)
- Masterman Ready, or the Wreck in the Pacific (Frederick Marryat, 1841)
- The Coral Island (R.M. Ballantyne, 1857)
- L'Oncle Robinson (Jules Verne, 1870; unpublished until 1991)
- The Mysterious Island (L'Île mystérieuse) (Jules Verne, 1874)
- Godfrey Morgan (L'École des Robinsons) (Jules Verne, 1881)
- Two Years' Vacation (Deux ans de vacances) (Jules Verne, 1888)
- The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling, 1894) - the Mowgli stories
- I Robinson italiani (Emilio Salgari, 1896)
- The Admirable Crichton (J. M. Barrie, 1902)
- Baby Island (Carol Ryrie Brink, 1937)
- Lord of the Flies (William Golding, 1954)
- Tunnel in the Sky (Robert A. Heinlein, 1955)
- Pincher Martin (William Golding, 1956)
- Danny Dunn on a Desert Island (Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams, 1957)
- The Survivors (Tom Godwin, 1958)
- Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O'Dell, 1960)
- Transit (Edmund Cooper, 1964)
- A Far Sunset (Edmund Cooper, 1967)
- Friday (Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique) (Michel Tournier, 1967)
- The Other Side of the Mountain (La Montagne morte de la vie) (Michel Bernanos, 1967)
- Providence Island (Calder Willingham, 1969)
- Concrete Island (J. G. Ballard, 1973)
- Shipwreck (Charles Logan, 1975)
- Friday and Robinson (Vendredi ou la Vie sauvage) (Michel Tournier, 1977)
- The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel, 1980)
- Foe (J. M. Coetzee, 1986),
- Hatchet, (Gary Paulsen, 1987)
- The Island of the Day Before (Umberto Eco, 1994)
- Life of Pi (Yann Martel, 2001)
- Robinson Crusoe on Mars (film, 1964)
- Gilligan's Island (TV series, 1964-1967)
- Lost in Space (TV series, 1965-1968)
- Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. (film, 1966)
- Hell in the Pacific (film, 1968)
- MacGyver (TV series, 1985-1992)
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (TV series, episodes 1990-1991)
- Cast Away (film, 2000)
- Survivor (TV series, 2000-present)
- Lost (TV series, 2004-present)
- Star Trek Voyager (TV series, 1995-2001)