From Ian Watt's reading of Robinson Crusoe, novel critics valuing realism as the highest expression of the form have tried to domesticate adventure fiction and the rambling dispositions of its protagonists. In contrast, this essay argues that such rambling explores a foundational human right: the right to mobility. It starts by explaining how this right is articulated in the early modern period at the international geopolitical scale as the freedom of navigation. It then links the freedom of the seas to the empowered agency of Crusoe and fellow mariners across the history of maritime adventure fiction. The essay concludes by suggesting the interest of a historically inflected typology of adventure fiction more generally, depending on the articulation of the right to mobility. One way to access this articulation is to attend to chronotypes of “dangerous passage,” from the enchanted perils confronting Odysseus to the dangers of the matrix and the net in recent cyberfiction.

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