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Friday, or, The Other Island

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Friday, winner of the 1967 Grand Prix du Roman of the Académie Française, is a sly, enchanting retelling of the legend of Robinson Crusoe by the man the New Yorker calls "France's best and probably best-known writer." Cast away on a tropical island, Michel Tournier's god-fearing Crusoe sets out to tame it, to remake it in the image of the civilization he has left behind. Alone and against incredible odds, he almost succeeds. Then a mulatto named Friday appears and teaches Robinson that there are, after all, better things in life than civilization.

240 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1967

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About the author

Michel Tournier

179 books230 followers
Michel Tournier was a French writer.

His works are highly considered and have won important awards such as the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1967 for Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique. and the Prix Goncourt for Le Roi des aulnes in 1970. His works dwell on the fantastic, his inspirations including traditional German culture, Catholicism, and the philosophies of Gaston Bachelard. He lived in Choisel and was a member of the Académie Goncourt. His autobiography has been translated and published as The Wind Spirit (Beacon Press, 1988).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 165 reviews
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,468 reviews3,635 followers
June 24, 2020
I think that these days Robinson Crusoe is as an intrinsic part of the modern mythology as Odysseus or Flying Dutchman…
And Michel Tournier’s retelling of the myth is an ironic allegory of the conquering of the globe by civilization and progress and a philosophical parable on the nature of man.
Friday had learned to be a soldier when his master was the general, a choir boy when his master prayed, a mason when he was building, a porter when he went on a journey, and a beater when he hunted; and he had learned to chase the flies away with a palm frond when his master was taking a nap.

Man believes in God… Man doesn’t understand God’s ways so he serves God trying to oblige God and deserve a better life. And deep down inside, every man dreams to play a role of God… Even to become God.
So now Robinson Crusoe is the god and Friday is a man serving his god – he doesn’t understand his god’s motives and purposes but he believes that one day he will manage to become a god too.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,102 reviews7,206 followers
January 12, 2023
[Edited for typos 1/11/23]

A re-telling of Robinson Crusoe. The book won France’s Grand Prix du Roman de l'Académie Française when published in 1967.


Like Defoe’s Crusoe, this Crusoe is hard-working and religious. He keeps a journal. He writes a “constitution” for his island, dresses for dinner and he attends a church service every Sunday where he kneels and prays. He’s worried that he’s losing his ability for speech so he reads the Bible aloud for hours. He gives himself punishments for infractions and not working hard enough.

Crusoe recapitulates the story of civilization by progressing from his early days of hunting and gathering to planting crops and then developing the landscape with dams, irrigation and rice paddies.

He seems to have bouts of what we might call manic depression, probably a result of his isolation. At times he is wildly proud of his accomplishments in building a fort, a house, ponds, an irrigation system, etc. At other times he is depressed and despondent about his isolation and his chances of rescue or of even of just surviving with his sanity.


He worries often about going insane. He tells us that solitude is dehumanizing and that you need the confirmation of others to make your world real.

Another theme throughout is sexual. Crusoe thinks of the island as feminine and we get into some bizarre forms of sexual outlet.

Friday appears on the scene. He’s half Indian and half African. Crusoe thinks that a ‘savage’ is not wholly a human being. He names him Friday. Good Christian that he is, Crusoe assumes God has sent him a slave and treats him accordingly.

However Crusoe learns from Friday that there is more to life than ‘civilization.’


At the end of the story a ship arrives and we have a triple surprise. Don’t click this spoiler if you intend to read the book. (Now you are really tempted, I’ll bet!)

A good read; I enjoyed it. You don’t have to read (or re-read) Defoe’s Crusoe to follow the book. It was translated from French.


The author, Michel Tournier (1924-2016) wrote a dozen or so novels and collections of short stories, including another Robinson Crusoe take-off titled Friday and Robinson. One of his novels, Erl-King, won France's Prix Goncourt and he was considered for the Nobel Prize.

Photo of Robinson Crusoe from dw.com
Crusoe's island - one of the Juan Fernandez chain of islands off the coast of Chile from wikipedia
Crusoe from wsj.com
The author from yahoo.com
Profile Image for Luís.
1,947 reviews611 followers
May 28, 2023
It is a 1971 book that takes up the myth of Robinson Crusoe and Friday. Getting down to a genre book is not easy; we risk comparing it with the original by Daniel Defoe (early 18th century). However, Michel Tournier successfully adapts the story to address it to young readers from 10 years old.
It is, therefore, shorter than the original but no less interesting for adults. Reading is fluid, but the author does not ignore a few botanical terms and tackles complex subjects' differences between civilizations, loneliness, time, and nature's relationship.
It is, therefore, a vibrant book, a handy manual for adepts of survival in uninhabited environments, humanistic and sometimes borrowing from great poetry, which I liked.
Profile Image for ArturoBelano.
99 reviews292 followers
January 5, 2018
Madem bu gece arafta geziyoruz bu eşsiz kitabı da es geçmeyelim. Batı dünyasının " keşifler" çağının kurucu medeniyet mitlerinin başında gelen Robinson Crouse'yu hepimiz biliriz. Issız bir adaya düşen batılı medeniyeti sıfırdan kuracaktır, bir de hizmetçi Cuma buldu mu kendine değme keyfine. Ama neyse ki o keyfe turp sıkan, aşağı katlardan bir okuma ile beyaz adama nanik yapan yazarlarımız var.

Bu kitabı okuyalı 14 yıl oldu sanırım ve şu an bunları yazarken bir çok sahne gözümde canlanıyor. Spoiler vermek gibi olmasın ama robinson efendi dişi olarak imlediği adayı beceriyor ve adadan çocukları bile oluyor. Sonra Cuma çıkıyor ortaya ve gerisi büyük bir curcuna.

Dil ve biçim olarak çok yetkin ama maalesef türkiyeli okur tarafından ıskalanmış bu romanı iyi okura ve özellikle doğa- insan medeni-'ilkel diyalektiğine dair derdi olan aşağı katların siyah yurttaşlarına tavsiye ederim.
Profile Image for Josh.
89 reviews64 followers
May 9, 2009
I was unfairly suspicious of this book the way I'm unfairly suspicious of musicians who mostly sing other people's songs - chalk it up to my adolescent and more than just slightly Puritanical obsession with originality. But of course that's all bullshit. Friday gains a lot from being a story whose plot we already know; to put this graphically, we might say that its horizontal axis shrinks while its vertical one elongates. We've been to this island before, we know the drama of use that Defoe managed somehow to put together out of banana leaves and coconut shells; but what we don't (or didn't) know is what would happen if the entire drama took place within the playful and exorbitant mind of a contemporary French philosopher. What's that you say? You'd rather be stuck in a tank of pissed-off cobras than trapped in the mind of a French philosopher for two hundred pages? But before you dismiss this book out of hand as an exercise or circle of hell, know that Tournier, like his master Bachelard, puts the philo back in philosophy. The drama may be interior, but it is rich and, on almost every page, incredibly beautiful. Tournier has mystified many contemporary critics with the way he's managed to fill unwaveringly conventional narrative forms with intensely original experiences (sorry to echo the "old bottle, new wine" metaphor that at least three different reviewers used about this book. I am VERY susceptible to back matter); but reading a book like this, you come to realize how incredibly effective an investigational tool narrative can be. And, to top it all off, you get to return to that strange and mystically boring little island again, if only for a few hundred more pages.
Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
413 reviews216 followers
June 5, 2016
Ένα φιλοσοφικό μυθιστόρημα. Από τη στιγμή που ο Ροβινσώνας μένει ναυαγός, στήνει την ζωή του από την αρχή, σε έναν άλλο κόσμο. Έρχεται αντιμέτωπος με την φύση, περνάει από μπροστά του η εξέλιξη της ζωής. Γίνεται τα πάντα για να ανταπεξέλθει. Κρατάει συνήθειες που είχε στον έξω κόσμο, που δεν έχουν κανένα νόημα στο νησί που βρίσκεται πλέον. Δημιουργεί κανόνες, ξεκινάει από το μηδέν, έχει αποδεχτεί πλήρως τη νέα του κατάσταση.

Με την εμφάνιση του Παρασκευά, αλλάζουν προσωρινά οι ισορροπίες, γρήγορα όμως αποδέχονται την συνύπαρξή τους, αναπτύσσοντας όλες τις μορφές κοινωνικοποίησης. Ένα βιβλίο γεμάτο σκέψεις, που ίσως μετά από ένα σημείο φεύγουν σε άλλο επίπεδο.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,344 reviews319 followers
March 10, 2023
Ако Робинзон Крузо бе френски философ на средна възраст, щеше да се побърка бързо на своя самотен остров...

Може би, през 1967 година да е била голяма работа, но днес тази книга ми се видя противно скучна и изпълнена с религиозни брътвежи.

Чистилището в заглавието предупреждава...

Една четвърт от романа прочетох, за повече нямам нито сили, нито желание.
Profile Image for Paul Dembina.
438 reviews95 followers
September 18, 2023
An alternative take on Robinson Crusoe where the castaway doesn't so much have trouble surviving physically but more the impact on him psychologically. The island becomes another character to him and in this respect it reminds me of some of JG Ballard's disaster novels.
Profile Image for Aggeliki Spiliopoulou.
270 reviews67 followers
February 3, 2021
Παρασκευάς ή στις μονές του Ειρηνικού, Michel Tournier
Μετάφραση: Χρήστος Γ. Λάζος
Στη λογοτεχνία ο ήρωας του Νταφόε, Ροβινσώνας Κρούσσος, έχει αναφερθεί τόσο από τον Γουίλκι Κόλινς στη Φεγγαρόπετρα όσο και από τον Ρουσσώ στον Αιμίλιο. Ο Τουρνιέ θέλοντας να χρησιμοποι��σει έναν χαρακτήρα διαμορφωμένο και φέροντα τα χαρακτηριστικά του δυτικού πολιτισμού δανείστηκε το μύθο του Ροβινσώνα και τον προσάρμοσε στη δική του εκδοχή.
Θίγονται ευρύτερα θέματα όπως η απ��ικιοκρατία, η δουλεία, η εκπαίδευση στα δυτικά πρότυπα, η διαφορετική θεολογική θεώρηση, η συνύπαρξη κατακτητή κατακτημένου, οι κοινωνικές δομές, οι θεσμοί της εργασίας και ιδιοκτησίας, όπου είναι φανερή η επίδραση των κοινωνικών συμβολαίων του Ρουσσώ.
Σε επίπεδο ατόμου παρουσιάζεται η προσπάθεια ενός ανθρώπου να ανταπεξέλθει στις συνθήκες απόλυτης μοναξιάς, κατανόησης του εαυτού του και προσαρμογής. Η επαφή με τη φύση και η σχέση με αυτή παίρνει μυστικιστική χροιά.
Στη μυθιστορηματική αφήγηση του Τουρνιέ είναι διάχυτη η επιρροή του από τη σημειολογία του Φουκώ και την διδασκαλία του Λακάν σε όλα τα σημεία της.
Η αντίληψη του αντικειμένου και του κόσμου πραγματοποιείται μέσα από τον Άλλο, μια a-priori απόλυτη δομή που πραγματώνεται από μεταβαλλόμενα υπαρκτά υποκείμενα. Ο Τουρνιέ με τον Ροβινσώνα μας παρουσιάζει έναν κόσμο χωρίς τον Άλλο, την ανάδυση από το βάθος, την ανακάλυψη της επιφάνειας και των στοιχείων, του Άλλου από τον Άλλο. Ο πόθος καθορίζεται μέσα από τη δομή του Άλλου, μελετά τη διεστραμμένη δομή και τους μεταβαλλόμενους όρους λόγω απουσίας του Άλλου και ορίζει την έννοια της διαστροφής.
Πρόκειται για ένα κείμενο πολυεπίπεδο όπου η μυθιστορία εξυπηρετεί τη φιλοσοφική τοποθέτηση.
Profile Image for Aslı.
8 reviews10 followers
November 2, 2014
Daniel Defoe'nun Robinson Crusoe'sunun postmodern versiyonu diyebiliriz. Defoe'nun cinsellik bağlamında ki geçiştirmelerini Michel Tournier içselleştirip J.Lacan ve teorisi üzerinden harmanlayıp bizlere orjinalinden çok daha değişik bir anlatı sunuyor.Okuması keyifli,çevirisi başarılı.
Profile Image for charlie medusa.
311 reviews501 followers
February 16, 2023
the man has sex with a cave then with a flower then with a tree then with sand then he hits a Black man he deems inferior to him because of the color of his skin and along the book he rambles about God and humanity and reads the Bible aloud to himself and calls that a religious office

also he writes a Constitution for himself idk I know this is supposed to be a metaphor of some kind for humanood and like the essence of existence but man I don't know who relates to this book but I would advise them to go get therapy idk
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books969 followers
June 27, 2017
This is a fast read, a retake on the famous Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe. It gets a bit didactic at the end in making its points, but it's mostly well-written. The difference in this 1969 rendition is that contrast between Robinson and his man Friday. Tournier's point is to show us that the often lazy, always fun-seeking Friday is the superior man to the dour and rule-abiding European. Robinson, pre-discovery of Friday, even creates a water clock and writes laws for his island, a rather hilarious exercise given that he is the only citizen of his island. When the clock stops one day, Robinson finds he kind of likes the freedom he gains when freed from the tyranny of time, but he manages to wag the finger at himself until he's back in line.
Profile Image for Aslihan Yayla.
390 reviews58 followers
April 1, 2023
Bir adaya düşseydiniz hayatta kalmak için ne yapardınız? Bana göre bu kitabın özeti tam olarak bu cümleyle özleşleştirilir. Bu kitap aynı zamanda adımlardan (süreçten) oluşuyor.

İlk adımda göreceğin; Robinson, hayatta kalma çabasındayken geride bıraktığı lüks yaşamı, statüyü ve ailesini unutma sürecini aktarır. İkinci adım ise yeniden yapılandırdığı karakterini, iş gücünü ve öğrenimlerini keşfetmesini görürüz. Üçüncü adımda ise yanlızlaşan ve bir nevi varını yoğunu kurduğu düzenle işletmeye çalışan Robinson'un Cuma ile talihsiz bir olayla karşılaşmasını ve onunla olan sürecini okuruz. Önce dost sonra patron işçi ilişkisi ile süre gelecek yılların ardından adaya yanaşan bir gemi ile aralarındaki tüm düzen altüst olacaktır.

Mücadele, yaşam, umut, insanlık, felsefe, din, cinsellik ve daha pek çok konuya değinen muazzam bir metindi. Altını çizip çokça düşündüren cümleler bulmanız olası. Okumanızı tavsiye ederken bu yıl okuduğum iyi eserler arasında benim adıma yerini aldı.

#cumayadapasifikarafı #vendrediouleslimbesdupacifique #micheltournier #ayrintiyayinlari
Profile Image for verbava.
996 reviews110 followers
April 13, 2014
назва в англійському перекладі – friday, or, the other island – дуже добре схоплює суть книжки. весь роман так чи інакше – про іншість: спершу для робінзона, який осмислює життя серед інших і без них, потім – для читача, якому доводиться переживати робінзонові метаморфози і якось на них реагувати. турньє грається з читачем, показує все нові замилення зору (чи здатні ми взагалі розуміти іншого, поки він себе не перекладе нашою мовою? і чи можна вимагати від іншого розуміння, якщо ми не перекладаємо себе?), все нові точки відносності.
а ще англійці мають хороше слово для опису цього тексту: disturbing. роман весь час повертається до питання про те, скільки людського може втратити людина, та все ще лишатися людиною, – і це злущування людськості, з одного боку, дуже некомфортне, проте захопливе і по-своєму красиве з іншого.
начебто й проста книжка, але з дуже потужним післясмаком.
Profile Image for Matt T.
101 reviews22 followers
April 3, 2020
A Semblance of Company

‘I am completely in the desert. I have never seen people nor do I imagine that another man is even possible. At that very moment an analogous creature appears in my field of vision, which, while not being me, is nevertheless the same principle in an alien body. Someone identical but alien nevertheless. And suddenly I experience, at precisely the same moment, a wondrous fulfillment and a painful division. Yet one revelation stands out above all the rest: I have become boundless, unpredictable to myself, multiple in possibilities through this alien, fresh but identical power, which approaches me as if I were approaching myself from the outside.’
(Witold Gombrowicz, ‘Diary', 1953)

As a high school philosophy teacher still naïve enough to dream of writing a great novel of ideas, I am bound to be sympathetic towards a great novelist of ideas who dreamed of teaching philosophy. Michel Tournier’s first novel, ‘Friday’, written when he was aged forty-two, after his failure to pass the French philosophy teacher’s exam, is a testament to that post-Freudian notion that no matter what obstacles block us from achieving our dreams, they will find a way of actualising themselves in an encrypted form, even if the dreamer no longer recognises them as their own. ‘Friday’ is a re-telling of the Robinson Crusoe narrative told from the perspective of the interior; not simply the private drama of what would be Crusoe’s imagined subjectivity, but the unfolding of the virtual potential Defoe brought into being with the creation of the 'island situation' back in 1719. As such, Tournier’s ‘Friday’ functions as a kind of triumphant return of the repressed, or rather, as an exploration of the philosophical implications bound up in the possible world of Robinson Crusoe. Just as the island will ultimately allow Crusoe a life far more spiritually enriched than those available for the average enterprising European of Defoe’s day, so Tournier’s philosophical learning is given a more powerful expression in this novel form. Tournier, like his fictionalised Crusoe, will be compelled to relinquish his hold on the rational order of things and the central tension of the novel derives from the reader’s fear that it will all descend into complete madness.

Despite the richness of the philosophical ideas explored, the novel itself is tremendously tight and lucid. Ideas are developed through concrete image and action rather than vague allusion and elliptical pronouncement. Thankfully then, this is not another self-reflexive novel about the instability of language, so much as a thought experiment attempting to prise us free of what Foucault once termed 'regimes of truth'. Today, it’s impossible to read ‘Friday’ apart from that passé genre of intertextual re-writes, along the lines of Jean Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ (Jane Eyre), Margaret Atwood’s ‘Hagseed’ (Tempest), or, more closely, J. M. Coetzee’s alternative to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, ‘Foe’. Yet while this genre often seems tailor-made for literature degrees, with their free-included metatextual commentary and obligatory liberal handwringing exercises over colonial guilt (as if this in itself wasn’t another form of condescension), Tournier’s early example of the genre seems unencumbered by these conventions. The figure of Friday is too mercurial to settle for any one stereotype or its opposite, and the novel's full title, not given in the English translation, is ‘Friday, or the Pacific Limbo’, foreshadows Crusoe's final decision on what counts as a truly primitive existence. Crusoe's properly geological cultural appropriation will be rewarded through the surprise late appearance of an unlikely refugee from the white world, who, the readers can surmise, will serve as Crusoe’s legacy.

Tournier was a childhood friend of Gilles Deleuze, and it is hard not to read this novel as a response to Deleuze’s first acknowledged publication, ‘Desert Islands’ (1953), an essay showing how ‘science makes mythology more concrete, and [how] mythology makes science more vivid’ and in the process, reworking Heidegger’s fourfold understanding of the Earth/Sky, Mortal/Divinities distinctions via the concept of ‘continental’ and ‘oceanic’ islands. Continental Islands are those which have drifted off the mainland and may stand in for our desire to break from current Western traditions, while oceanic islands spring up from a volcanic Earth of their own accord and represent the forces of natural creation. A desert island process might be said to combine these two movements of scission and verticality and Tournier’s island life will go through many metamorphoses in the process of its interactions with characters, ranging from a hyperbolic Protestant standing reserve for material resource, quite literally impregnated with Western values, to a surreal world of savage mythic divinities brought to bear through Friday’s Bartleby-like subtle refusals and secret corruptions. Even some of the most lyrical passages in the novel, where, for example, Crusoe climbs a tall tree to experience the sunlight directly on his face and flesh, seem to articulate an idea derived from Deleuze's essay: the possibility of a perfect objective understanding of a space made possible through the complete erasure of our profoundly false consciousness.

Perhaps Deleuze’s ideas are furthered through Crusoe’s tree-top reflection where a ‘leaf is the lung of the tree, which is itself a lung, and the wind is its breathing.’ (193) Here, we have a figure for a machinic nature where the individuated Heideggerian entelechies of Earth (tree), Mortal (Crusoe), Sky (wind) and Divinities (life-giving sun) each transform the other in an endless concatenating sequence. Wind as the symbol of an immaterial conditioning force reaches its highest expression in Friday’s savage construction of an Aeolian harp, formed from the stretched innards of a fierce goat (which in turn serves as a cipher for Crusoe). Its music, ‘was not a melody to pluck at the heart with its form and rhythm, but a single note, infinite in its harmonies, which took possession of the soul. A chord composed of countless elements in whose sustained power there was something fateful and implacable that held the listener spellbound.’ (198) As a memorable figure for the univocity of being, this is only matched by a famous passage in Deleuze’s ‘Difference and Repetition’, where there is ‘a single and same voice for the whole thousand-voiced multiple, a single and same Ocean for all the drops, a single clamour of Being for all the beings…’ Tournier’s ‘Friday’ and Deleuze’s ‘Difference and Repetition’ were both published in 1967, and it is charming to guess at who influenced who.

Deleuze and Tournier’s respective uses of the orchid-wasp image of parallel evolution, however, wherein species adapt to each other in a mutually transformative manner, find their source in Proust’s ‘Search’. In ‘Friday’, there is an admirable attempt to depict this non-human sexuality in a concrete manner through Crusoe’s use of the island, which comes across as either surreal or laughable depending on your temperament. Perhaps Tournier’s attempt to fuse the allegorical with the literal doesn't quite gell here, nor can it be said to in the final section of the novel where the interplay between third person limited and Crusoe’s first person journal becomes an uneasy alloy, as the latter ends up explaining the ramifications of the former in case the reader might have missed them. Yet there is no mention of such quibbles in Deleuze’s glowing review of the novel, ‘A Theory of the Other’ (1967). Instead, Deleuze will match Tournier’s fictional supplanting of his Desert Islands essay through a philosophical intensification of the novel's central components. In his autobiography, ‘The Wind Spirit’, Tournier describes his teenage philosophical engagements with a young Deleuze, where he would fire ‘off words like cotton or rubber balls, and [Deleuze] shot them back, hardened and heavy, like lead and steel cannon balls’: to read Tournier’s novel and then Deleuze’s response back to back, is to perceive something like this still in effect: both works are a model for what can be achieved through literary reflections of the highest order. Recommended reading for those of you who don’t want to leave the island.
Profile Image for Katrin Kirilova.
70 reviews36 followers
July 25, 2022
Хубаво е стихотворението на Джон Дън, но има ситуации, в които човек се превръща в остров вътре в себе си затворен, поради една или друга причина. Понякога обаче това е единсвената възможност да се достигне щастието на първичното безвремие, присъщо на природата. Континетът може да се окаже скапан /дивашки по своя алчен и безскруполен начин/ и в крайна сметка отказът за завръщане към него да дойде от самия Робинзон, защото вече не принадлежи на този свят, подобно на Брукс от The Shawshank Redemption. Как да им обясни, че любовта и похотта могат да бъдат насочени към горещата майка земя и че божественото е скрито в магическата несловесност на натурата. Още по-малко, че колкото и знания да трупат в главите си, ако не знаят как да се държат с едно дете, то тогава другото няма значение.
Profile Image for Basel .
262 reviews4 followers
January 16, 2020
Michel Tournier’s novel “Friday, or, The Other Island” (as known in English) is a retelling of the famous novel by Daniel Dafoe, Robinson Crusoe. It is the classic tale of a man who is shipwrecked on a deserted island and must do whatever he can to survive. Though as Dafoe’s novel is an allegory of the “Western” ingenuity by conquering and submitting the deserted "New World”, showing us the brilliant triumphs of the white European settler, Tournier’s novel is a much more introspective novel, focusing more on Crusoe’s mind and psychology, especially his evolving relation with an indigenous inhabitant of the island who he dubs as Friday. For instance, Friday here is an actual human being. While is considered as subhuman by Crusoe at first and is put into slavery, we gradually how Friday does not only become an equal to Crusoe and independent from him, but in a fascinating twist by the end, we see how the “savage local” actually triumphs over the settler. Friday does not need Crusoe. Crusoe needs Friday.

You see, this is an allegorical tale not just about colonialism, but also in a human’s quest against nature. Human’s think they can subjugate the Earth and nature. Nevertheless, in the end, the Earth can easily survive without us. If human suddenly became extinct, then in a rather short while, nature will regain its dominion and it would be as if we never existed. We see that in the evolution of Crusoe’s relation with the Island. He goes through different stages, from the visitor, to the governor, to actually trying to become “one” with it. He might try to subjugate it, but whether he is successful or not, it is up to us to decide. And Friday? Crusoe might consider Friday at first to be an idiot, but Friday can easily survive on the island as if Crusoe was not there. The colonized will always remain, and eventually, when the colonizers are least aware, the colonized will seize their moments. I liked how Tournier lets us wonder: Who is using whom?

This is not an adventure novel per se, but an introspective and meditative one. It is not really a survival novel. Tournier’s novel lets us reflect on our place in nature and what place or evolution humans can achieve while, at the same time, offers interesting commentary on the relations between the colonizers and the colonized. You do not need to have read Dafoe’s novel to enjoy this one. Therefore, I do recommend it.
Profile Image for Gina.
48 reviews5 followers
July 27, 2013
Phenomenal read! I have been longing for the entertaining meditation on the self in a rich, artful, even exotic way that Friday delivers. Tournier's retelling of Robinson Crusoe kept me up at night reading 50 or more pages late into the night. High recommendation for fans of retellings and philosophically profound literature. I read it in French while my husband read it in English, and agree it is a faithful translation. We were both riveted.
Profile Image for Danny Tyran.
Author 21 books183 followers
November 20, 2018
J'adore les oeuvres de Tournier.

Ici, c'est l'histoire de Robinson Crusoe réécrite à sa manière très philosophique et presque métaphysique, mais avec des passages d'une sensualité troublante.
Profile Image for Czarny Pies.
2,532 reviews1 follower
September 10, 2021
I found the basic premise of Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" to be fundamentally false and thus not terribly interesting. I always assumed that any mature adult marooned on a deserted island would be pre-occupied solely by the desire to survive. The marooned person would never dream of trying to re-create the civilisation that he or she had been cut off from. Tournier's reflection on the theme bored me as much as did Defoe's.
Tournier's take is nonetheless clever. His Crusoe is indeed obsessed with his project to build his civilization. When the rescue ship finally arrives, he neither celebrates his salvation nor abandons his island. Rather stays behind watching the ship sail away with Friday.
I must say that I like more desert novel islands for children such as "Swiss Family Robinson" or "The Mysterious Island." In the children's novels, the goal of the author is to explain to the young reader the complexity of the civilized world that he or she lives in and how much humanity has put into it. I simply prefer this notion to that of the adult desert novels which describe the determination of the isolated human to preserve his or her world.
Profile Image for Cristina Mercori.
73 reviews23 followers
April 26, 2020
„Astfel, timpul trecea repede și util, cu-atât mai repede cu cât era mai util folosit, și lăsa-n urma lui o grămadă de monumente și de gunoaie care se chemau istoria mea. (...)
„S-ar zice, prin urmare, că zilele mele s-au îndreptat în sus. Nu mai vin unele peste altele. Stau în picioare, verticale, și se-afirmă cu mândrie, în valoarea lor intrinsecă. Și cum nu se mai deosebesc prin etapele succesive ale unui plan pe cale de executare, seamănă-ntre ele-n asemenea măsură încât se suprapun exact în memoria mea și mi se pare că retrăiesc mereu aceeași zi.”
Trecut/prezent. Zile trăite/Zile identice. Reconstruirea destinului.
2 reviews1 follower
October 8, 2019
There's so much to say. :) I said a lot in a private review which I'm copying and pasting here from a closed group, but since this is my own private view of the plot, I'm not convinced I'd be prosecuted for trespassing.


One of the books I probably enjoyed most in my entire "reading life" was one of the novels written by the French Michel Tournier (1924-2016). The English translation of its title is simply Friday while the French original is called Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique (published back in 1967) which translates approximately as Friday, or the limbo of the Pacific.

The "trouble" with the book is that is actually has no classical plot. On the one hand, nothing much happens and on the other, it is indeed a return to Defoe's Friday but written in a very French (= difficult, deeply philosophical and extreemely unclear) way. So what does it say that could be new? Actually, a lot, and it brings about many questions.

To cut the loooong story short: Tournier's Crusoe ended up shipwrecked on a desert island (unsurprising, is it?), then kind of tries to civilize the island (I mean control the nature in it, etc.) When Friday appears on the island and the scene of the novel, he tries to civilize him too (unsurprising, either).

BUT next, there is a deep change that happens in the psyche of Robinson. He becomes attached to the island (called Esperanza, i.e. Hope), both psychically and physically, in the very physical sense of the term. The story ends up in Robinson staying while Friday decides to leave the island.

As the physical attachment to the island (a "she") becomes also erotical, the author felt the urge to write a version that would make it possible to be read by children, too. This one is called Friday and Robinson (Vendredi ou la vie sauvage, 1977).

Back to the controversiality of the physical attachment: Robinson became so much (re)connected to the nature of the island, that not only did he refuse to leave, he also decided to become a part of it, deciding to fertilize it (literally). How did he do that? To answer the first part of the question: He found a cave, pleasant to stay in, where he actually started staying longer and longer, escaping from everyday reality. On the one hand, it looks as if he wanted to return to his mother's womb, which we all know is impossible, but...anyway... As far as the answer to the second half of the question is concerned: I don't know, well, rather I can't remember because I read the book at least 15 years ago for the last time...:)

Taking a look at the whole story from a rather symbolical point of view, did the author want to express the wish of the main hero to return to the original state humans used to live in eons ago? A question coming immediately afterwards: Is this possible after all? And if not, what is it that we should be trying to achieve continuing the course of History?

So what did I actually like about the book so much that I'm talking about it here? First of all, the ambiguity of (possible) interpretation(s). One is actually allowed to think whatever they like about the plot (based on their own experience and knowledge) and, supposing they also know Defoe's original this novel is based on, they may go on finding their own explanations and interpretations which definitely tell each of us readers so much about ourselves.

Secondly, I appreciated the kind of nirvana that was on the background, this "let's not do anything that the society supposes, teaches and/or expects us to do in life" atmosphere... Quite revolutionary an idea in a world based on the rat race, isn't it? Do you still wonder that the author won an Académie française prize for Literature which in the French context means something like a national version of the Nobel Prize.

Last but not least, to finally get to the central idea of this reply :) - it made me think a lot about the sense of life, the (im)possibility of us/our lives being predetermined. I was around 25 then and it did make me think a lot. I remember spending a month or two in a very special "philosophical mood" :)

Last point: the controversiality of the sexuality described in the book (the island - a female - actually becomes the hero's partner) kind of shocked me at that time, but taking a distance in terms of Freud's theories seems to have helped a lot :) Believe me, there are much worse plots in French literature...:D The matter behind this "outside picture" is the most important that happens between the lines of the book.

Congratulations to those who made it to this line. I'll try to be more concise next time as it looks as if I were able to go on talking about the book for another hour at least...:)

And why did I put a question mark on the first line? :) I realized some facts that made me come out of my then comfort zone, soooo, that's why:)

Profile Image for Sebastien.
344 reviews4 followers
March 7, 2015
Je suis tombé sur une boite de livre littéraire que j'ai lu lors de mon Cégep, comme ça devrait compter dans mes roman lu je vais les décrire brièvement. Je ne ferai pas de critique de pièces de théatre car je ne le considère pas comme un roman. Voici la courte critique de ce livre:

Quand j'ai su que sa serait une version philosophique de Robinson Crusoe, j'ai eu peur de lire ce livre que j'aurais cru assez mauvais ou réchauffé. Si vous saviez a quel point je m'étais trompé. Ce livre à été une révélation pour moi, à la fois choquant, passionnant et divertissant. On voit dans ce livre une version réaliste de ce que serait devenu un homme laisser seul pour vrai sur une île et comment il aurait pu s'en sortir logiquement.

La relation que le personnage principal développe avec l'île, vendredi et la nature en général est extrêmement bien pensé. Peu de dialogue mais les description m'on fait avoir des idées difficile à oublier et certain passage m'on fait avoir des cauchemard (je suis sérieux). Certains passages sont à glacer le sang tellement le personnage devient fou de sa solitude et comment il vit cette folie.

Ce livre est un must à lire à mon avis, mon seul regret est que j'ai prêter ce livre et il n'est jamais revenu. Je vais le racheter car je veux le relire. Je donnerais 5 étoiles à ce livre si ce n'était encore une fois d'une fin loin de l'intensité du reste du livre et un manque de constance par bout qui crée des longueurs qui pourraient en décourager certain.

Je recommande ce livre grandement.
Profile Image for Tyrone_Slothrop (ex-MB).
703 reviews92 followers
August 8, 2017
una grande mente Cast Away

opera densissima e complessa, il miglior esempio dell'unicità di Tournier, capace di prendere archetipi culturali e rivisitarli in un'ottica filosofica originalissima. La storia di Robinson diviene una riflessione antropologica molto profonda, di cui forse non è facile cogliere ogni riferimento e ogni suggestione, ma che affascina e tormenta il lettore fin nel proprio io. Qui si parla di noi stessi, della nostra identità e del nostro vivere, attraverso l'evoluzione (o involuzione?) di Robinson - uno degli elementi migliori è l'analisi del rapporto tra Robinson e l'isola: i) naufrago in cerca di fuga dall'isola Desolazione, ii) larva inerme nel pantano, iii) uomo settecentesco dominatore e ordinatore dell'isola amministrata, iv) uomo figlio che si rifugia nel grembo di un'isola madre, v) uomo panteista che si accoppia con l'isola sposa, vi) uomo-sole che abbandona la terra per aprirsi ad un rapporto mistico e mitico con l'astro sorgente di vita.... Si parla di panteismo, antropologia, teoria della conoscenza, esistenzialismo e mito senza mai pronunciare queste parole e rendendole vere e terrene....
Profile Image for Camille .
306 reviews148 followers
March 12, 2015
Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique est décidément ce livre qui ressort, de temps à autre, des rayons des étagères, qui nous tombe dessus et qu'on ouvre à nouveau sans presque y prendre gare, tant on a l'impression de retrouver un ami.
J'y pense tellement souvent, des années après l'avoir lu pour une première fois. Chaque moment de mélancolie me rappelle la boue dans laquelle Robinson s'enfouit.

Il faut décidément compter avec Michel Tournier dans les rangs de nos classiques. C'est une merveille. De ces livres dont on peut lire une page, sans prêter attention à l'histoire, juste pour le bonheur des mots.
Profile Image for louise.
30 reviews2 followers
February 12, 2023
je connaissais la fin et j'ai quand même envie de chialer
Profile Image for David Robertson.
90 reviews
January 25, 2013
A truly dreadful turgid book....I got about 75% through and had to give up - just skim read the rest. This is pretentious post-modern junk which takes Defoes Robinson Crusoe and turns it into a vehicle for meaningless nature worship - with the main character consummating his love of the earth by havng sex with it and thus producing growth! yes - it really is that garbage. Don't waste your time...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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