Betteredge, the butler-narrator in Wilkie Collins’s Moonstone, consults Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe much in the way that New Age spiritists consult the I-Ching, as a guide to future actions in difficult circumstances. The character of Betteredge, who in perplexity opens his faithful old copy of the novel at random and always finds wise advice wherever his eye falls, is a mild satire on religious fundamentalists who think that there is or ever could be a single book that answers to all human needs. He tells us:

I am not superstitious. I have read a heap of books in my time; I am a scholar in my own way… . You are not to take it, please, as the saying of an ignorant man, when I express the opinion that such a book as Robinson Crusoe never was written, and never will be written again. I have tried that book for years … and have found it my friend in need in all the necessities...

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