Do you like pirates? As a child, I was in love with the lives of pirates. Let’s forget for a moment that they were lawless, immoral men without affinities to any particular country. Daniel Defoe did. He, too, was fascinated by the lives of pirates. If his book, Robinson Crusoe, hasn’t convinced you of that, then go out and read his other book, The King of Pirates: Being an Account of the Famous Enterprises of Captain Avery, The Mock King of Madagascar, with his ramblings and piracies, wherein all the sham accounts formerly publsihed of him are detected. In two letters from himself: one during his stay at Madagascar, and one since his escape from thence.*
All of those other accounts of Captain Avery that accuse him of the worst immorality, including rape, are all lies. Of course I believe it, because Defoe wrote it. Defoe began his career as a journalist and, so, I would presume that this is another work of journalism. You do believe me, right? Defoe wanted nothing more than that his readers would believe in his tales. I will admit that Defoe was playing a lot with fiction and is sometimes considered to have written the first novel in the English language (Robinson Crusoe). The King of Pirates is one of his attempts at realistic fiction told in a first-person narrative. Ultimately, it’s a travel narrative, and an exciting one at that.
*I have the version published by Hesperus Press Limited in 2002, with a foreword by Peter Ackroyd