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Keywords:

  • Defoe;
  • geography;
  • map;
  • education;
  • tradesman;
  • gentleman;
  • discoveries;
  • improvement

Abstract

Whether learning how to work the streets as a pickpocket or picking up the art of navigation, Daniel Defoe's characters find, in John Richetti's words, that ‘the exact apprehension of the world is a technique for survival’: a measure of their capacity for ‘pushing back against a potentially destructive world’. This article pursues this issue of apprehension beyond Defoe's novels and into his non-fictional explorations of model lives, where geographic literacy or competence often figures as an index of the capacity to act effectively and responsibly in the world.