it would employ a book large as itself to make improvements


Senior Member
Hi friends, this is cited from Colonel Jack, by Daniel Defoe (1722)

I noticed a preface with a title " author's preface", even though "Editor" word is written at the end of it.
It talks about some reasons for writing preface in a word.

"The pleasant and delightful part speaks for itself; the useful and instructive is so large, and capable of so many improvements, that it would employ a book large as itself to make improvements suitable to the vast variety of the subject.

Question: Could you explain this bold part to me? I wonder does it mention that its being capable of doing this and that makes a book very extensive or versatile?
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I once translated a short work, about three pages, and the author wrote back with two pages of his suggested improvements. It took me as long as the original translation to analyse and explain why his ideas weren't any better than the original. I think that's what Defoe's editor is trying to say.

    (PS: my agent refused to send my replies to the author because they made it clear that he had no idea what he was talking about. She never asked me to comment on extensive "corrections" again!)


    Senior Member
    Hi again

    Let's focus on this part again, because I was not able to understand 100 percent of this weird sentence.

    1- "The pleasant and

    delightful part" is a part of this book? Or he speaks about this as whole book?

    2-What does he mean by "improvements?" In my opinion it must be repent he wanted to inspire for his readers. If it was so, can we translate this "The pleasant and delightful part of the book could recover whoever reads it, because this part included a lots of incident, covered many aspects of the life and that is why it (whole book?) would be large"?


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think Keith explained it very well.

    The book is entertaining (that's the "delightful" aspect of it).

    He says it's also didactic ("useful and instructive"). I think the "improvements" Defoe talks of would be a detailed explanation of the moral "messages"of the book. He gives examples - first of all, the need to provide all children with a good education, to provide charities and schools so that no orphan or poor child is forced to a life of petty crime and the inevitable harsh punishments they will suffer.

    If Defoe were to go into a detailed discussion of the moral implications of the story, he would need to write a work as long as the novel itself.
    < Previous | Next >