A Journal of the Plague Year

A Journal of the Plague Year✅ A Journal of the Plague Year PDF / Epub ⚣ Author Daniel Defoe – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk The novel is a fictionalised account of one man s experiences of the year , in which the Great Plague struck the city of London The book is told roughly chronologically, though without sections or cha of the Kindle Ø The novel is a fictionalised account of one man s experiences of the year , in which the Great Plague struck the city of London The book is told roughly chronologically, though without sections or chapter headings. Because writing is an expression of human character, what is true of one s character is true of one s writing as well A person s strengths and weaknesses are often two sides of the same coin the sympathetic character is often permissive, the assertive unreasonable, the ardent rash and the same thing can be said of an author s beauties and his faults A brief study of Daniel Defoe s book on the London plague of 1665 1666 illustrates this principle.Perhaps the most impressive thing about A Journ Because writing is an expression of human character, what is true of one s character is true of one s writing as well A person s strengths and weaknesses are often two sides of the same coin the sympathetic character is often permissive, the assertive unreasonable, the ardent rash and the same thing can be said of an author s beauties and his faults A brief study of Daniel Defoe s book on the London plague of 1665 1666 illustrates this principle.Perhaps the most impressive thing about A Journal of the Plague Year is that it is an extraordinarily convincing account narrated by the voice of a mature, solid citizen thoroughly respectable and reliable who has personally witnessed the extraordinary and often horrific incidents he describes Defoe, however, although did he live in London at the time, was born in 1660, and was therefore only five years old when the Hand of Death fell upon the city of London.Defoe creates a convincing persona by making his narrator a stolid burgher who fears his God, respects his fellow Londoners, and admires his city, an unimaginative man who above all reverences reliable testimony and verifiable facts Plague Year is crammed with rolls of the dead and other helpful lists, as well as page upon page of city regulations governing the duties of citizens, the conduct of the inspectors, etc Although there are many vivid glimpses of life during plague crazed sufferers expiring in the streets, healthy families shut up in their houses by decree, diseased individuals defying city orders, open pits waiting for wagons stacked high with the dead these scenes are often obscured by heaps of accumulated detail, piles of haphazardly organized materials The book, although impressive, is inelegant, its organizational principles unclear it appears to be the work of a literate layman, not a professional writer Paradoxically, it is precisely this impression of amateurishness that makes the voice and therefore the work itself so powerful and convincing a performance.As with Robinson Crusoe, so it is with A Journal of the Plague Year I can never decide whether Defoe is merely an unsophisticated novelist, addicted to lists and repetitive details, or whether like the poet satirists of his own 18th Century he is a master at constructing personae that convince the reader with their sincerity and authority.Is the hobbling, inartful appearance of Plague Year a strength or is it a weakness I for one think it s a toss up Two sides of the same coin In the crowded unhealthy unclean foul, pest dominated filthy city of London the Black Plague breaks out in 1665, no surprise it had occurred before in fact just a few years previously but this escalates, felling some say 100,000 people who never rise again Daniel Defoe the inventor of the English language novel Robinson Crusoe, 1719 yet because of his earlier employment, wasa journalist than a novelist, writes a memoir of this catastrophe almost sixty years later The author was only fi In the crowded unhealthy unclean foul, pest dominated filthy city of London the Black Plague breaks out in 1665, no surprise it had occurred before in fact just a few years previously but this escalates, felling some say 100,000 people who never rise again Daniel Defoe the inventor of the English language novel Robinson Crusoe, 1719 yet because of his earlier employment, wasa journalist than a novelist, writes a memoir of this catastrophe almost sixty years later The author was only five years old at the time, but his Uncle Henry Foe Defoe added De, to make himself seem a gentleman, his father was a butcher takes this eyewitness account from this relative s journal, the narrator is only described as H.F The alarmed inhabitants of the city mostly flee for their lives the rich first, King Charles the Second to Oxford, others to the nearby countryside the poor survive in the woods, old ruined shacks or in tents even outside, the locals don t help at first afraid to get sick too Many refugees starve to death, some succumb to the unmerciful disease the very brave stay in London those that work for the city government, the least well off remain also nowhere to go the hardest hit and die frequently in the streets, their minds inflamed by illness babbling words incomprehensible before dropping to the ground The Dead Carts pick up the victims and bury them in deep holes, mass graves are quickly covered and another one dug for the next batch The narrator s brother had urged him to get out of town like him, but H.F had a store to run , a house to take care of with servants and warehouses full of his goods how could he Still his sister would welcome him, she lived faraway in a different city The curious yet frightened man roams the streets, seeing the dead scattered everywhere, hearing unearthly screams from ill women in their homes, windows opened, moans flowing from above dazed men in nightshirts cursing, groaning people asking God to save them why did he not leave Whole families dying inside a house fathers, mothers, children, servants the stench of the bodies spreading to passersby they keep walking Londoners afraid to come near strangers they believe are infected by their polluted air not knowing the diseased rats, and flees that bite them and the many citizens of the city are the real killers Pitiful beggars abound asking for help, houses are shut with the owners inside either by the government, with the sick there or healthy ones trying to avoid the deadly plague by hiding Vicious thieves break into the empty homes stealing all, not afraid of the danger so desperate the situation, nothing to lose thinking everybody is doomed And the Dead Carts continue to roll down the pestilent streets the drivers throwing the deceased in, filling it to the top until noliving humans are left A splendid glance back to a depressing time with little medicine,ignorance and superstitions that dominated the scene a mirror into yesteryear In 1664, Borif De Pfeffel Jonffon was the Mayor of London He was widely popular with his flowing blonde wig and extravagant ruff Having invented the highly successful sport of peacock wiff waff, where live cocks were thwacked across a bronze table with scimitars, then skinned and served whole to the victors, his electoral success was secured In spite of his various mistresses, several of them chambermaids and lower ranking countesses, his re election the following year seemed certain He prom In 1664, Borif De Pfeffel Jonffon was the Mayor of London He was widely popular with his flowing blonde wig and extravagant ruff Having invented the highly successful sport of peacock wiff waff, where live cocks were thwacked across a bronze table with scimitars, then skinned and served whole to the victors, his electoral success was secured In spite of his various mistresses, several of them chambermaids and lower ranking countesses, his re election the following year seemed certain He promised the electorate new steam powered horse and carts, a plumbing system that reduced pong by 34%, a complete ban on orange jerkins, and a promise to invent peroxide by 1669 A year later, Borif was re elected Everyone loved his extravagant, lying ways He was such a character He was such a cad, a bounder, a cuddly fluffy bugger upper, such a British bumbler Two weeks into his second term as Mayor, the Plague erupted across the city Borif promised a million vaccines He promised a hundred tubes of Savlon per household By the end of the year, 70,000 people had perished from the plague In 1666, Borif claimed a rousing victory at having seen off the virus single handedly, with hardly no assistance from his recently sacked adviser Dominick Cummingf A few weeks later the Great Fire broke out, and Borif promised 100,000 water cannons to arrive within the hour By the end of the year, 436 acres of London was destroyed At the next election, Boris was re elected with a landslide, wherever there was land or people left History teaches us nothing It was a very ill time to be sick inMy pandemic reading continues with this classic work about one of the worst diseases in European history bubonic plague Daniel Defoe wrote this account when the boundaries between fiction and non fiction were looser He freely mixes invention, hearsay, anecdote, and real statistics, in pursuit of a gripping yarn Defoe himself was only a young boy when the Great Plague struck London, in 1664 6 but he writes the story in the person of a well to do, curi It was a very ill time to be sick inMy pandemic reading continues with this classic work about one of the worst diseases in European history bubonic plague Daniel Defoe wrote this account when the boundaries between fiction and non fiction were looser He freely mixes invention, hearsay, anecdote, and real statistics, in pursuit of a gripping yarn Defoe himself was only a young boy when the Great Plague struck London, in 1664 6 but he writes the story in the person of a well to do, curious, if somewhat unimaginative burgher, with the initials H.F The result is one of literature s most enduring portraits of a city besieged by disease.Though this account purports to be a journal, it is not written as a series of dated entries, but as one long scrawl What is , Defoe s narrator is not the most orderly of writers, and frequently repeats himself or gets sidetracked The book is, thus, rather slow and painful to read, since it lacks any conspicuous structure to grasp onto, but approaches a kind of bumbled stream of consciousness Even so, there are so many memorable details and stories in this book that it is worth the time one spends with it The Great Plague carried off one fourth of London s population about 100,000 souls and it was not even the worst outbreak of plague in the city The original wave of the Black Death, in the middle ages, was undoubtedly worse Still, losing a quarter of a city s population is something that is difficult for most of us to even imagine And when you consider that the Great Fire of London was quick on the plague s heels, you come to the conclusion that this was not the best time to be a Londoner.What is most striking about reading this book now is how familiar it is The coronavirus is no bubonic plague, but it seems our reactions to disease have not come a long way There are, of course, the scenes of desolation empty streets and mass graves The citizens anxiously read the statistics in the newspaper, to see if the numbers are trending upwards or downwards And then there are the quacks and mountebanks, selling sham remedies and magical elixirs to the desperate We also see the ways that disease affects the rich and the poor differently the rich could afford to flee the city, while the poor faced disease and starvation And the economic consequences were dreadful shutting up business, leaving thousands unemployed, and halting commerce.Medical science was entirely useless against the disease Nowadays, we can effectively treat the plague with antibiotics though the mortality rate is still 10% But at the time, little could be done Infection with the bacillus causes swollen lymph nodes in the groin, armpits, and neck called buboes, and it was believed that the swellings had to be punctured and drained This likely didharm than good, and in practice the plague doctors only useful purpose was to keep records of the dead.Quite interesting to observe were the antique forms of social distancing a term that of course did not exist that the Londoners practiced As now, people tried to avoid going out of their homes as much as possible, and if they did go out they tried to keep a distance from others and to avoid touching anything Defoe describes people picking up their own meat at the butcher s and dropping their money into a pan of vinegar to disinfect it There was also state mandated quarantining, as any house with an infection got shut up meaning the inhabitants could not leave Ironically, though these measures would have been wise had the disease been viral, they made little sense for a disease communicated by rat fleas Defoe does mention, by the way, that the people put out rat poison which probably helpedthan all of the distancing Onecommonality is that the disease outlasted people s patience and prudence As soon as an abatement was observed in the weekly deaths, citizens rushed out to embrace each other and resume normal life, despite the warning of the town s physicians Not much has changed, after all So while not exactly pleasant to read, A Journal of the Plague Year is at least humbling for the contemporary reader, as it reminds us that perhaps we have not come so far as we thought And it is also a timely reminder that, far from a novel and unpredictable event, the current crisis is one of many plagues that we have weathered in our time on this perilous globe The year is 1665, and the plague has come to London It has come like a thief in the night, stealing into town one or two fatalities at a time and then growing to a level that is uncontrollable and unimaginable The account is fiction, since Devoe was too young to have remembered most of the events he covers, but it is so obviously based on the first hand memories of those who did survive and the records of the time, that it reads like non fiction The voice of the narrator reinforces the feelin The year is 1665, and the plague has come to London It has come like a thief in the night, stealing into town one or two fatalities at a time and then growing to a level that is uncontrollable and unimaginable The account is fiction, since Devoe was too young to have remembered most of the events he covers, but it is so obviously based on the first hand memories of those who did survive and the records of the time, that it reads like non fiction The voice of the narrator reinforces the feeling of reality by inserting from time to time his assertions that this is his own recollection, not necessarily the only truth or full truth, but the truth as he can tell it, as it seemed to him at the time.What I found the most interesting about this account was the correlations I could draw to the attitudes and reactions to the disease, as it pertains to our own situation with the COVID 19 pandemic If anything would make you feel better about the current situation, it would be hearing the details of what people endured during this one We think social distancing and sheltering in place is difficult, but imagine being locked into your house, and having your children confined with you, because one person in the household has the disease Instead of removing the sick person and caring for the well, the sound were penned inside with the ill, and in almost every house that experienced this scenario, every person inside died.There were looters sadly this has not changed , who took advantage of the emptied houses and businesses that were unable to function What a sad commentary on mankind that these people would be willing to steal, even at the risk of contracting this horrid disease The power of avarice was so strong in some that they would run any hazard to steal and to plunder and particularly in houses where all the families or inhabitants have been dead and carried out, they would break in at all hazards, and without regard to the danger of infection, take even the clothes off the dead bodies and the bed clothes from others where they lay dead.There were charlatans who preyed upon the desire of people to get well or avoid getting sick There were, happily, also those who risked their own lives in caring for the sick, in feeding those who fled in hopes of outrunning the plague, in carrying away the dead bodies so that they did not rot in the houses and streets and endanger evenof the population This kind of courage we also see today I think it ought to be recorded to the honour of such men, as well clergy as physicians, surgeons, apothecaries, magistrates, and officers of every kind, as also all useful people who ventured their lives in discharge of their duty, as most certainly all such as stayed did to the last degree and several of all these kinds did not only venture but lose their lives on that sad occasion.People were asked to distance themselves from one another, but many defied the warnings and mingled at will, some had no choice but to go abroad to obtain necessities, some had jobs nursing, carrying off the dead, supplying the houses that were locked down, ministering to the people that prevented them from distancing Many fled the city into the country, and as a result were either prohibited from passing through towns and died of want, or inadvertently spread the disease to areas that might have otherwise escaped the blight More than a few paid with their lives I enjoyed reading most of this account There was a tendency toward repetition, and there was no attempt to make the narrator anything other than an observer, so there was no central figure on which to hang one s hopes or emotions It was a recounting of the most horrible things that could have and did happen during this tormenting event I confess to being brought to a gasp by the killing of all the animals dogs, cats and ponies, in an effort to stop the spread of the disease This, without any understanding that a flea was most likely responsible for the disease in the beginning This was simply a measure I had not considered when imagining what had happened during the battle against the plague, and one that took me off guardthan all the human suffering, which I was entirely braced for If you ever think there is something going on in this world that has never been experienced before, it is good to turn to history and realize you are wrong Others have endured all this andIt is good to be grateful for what has changed it is odd to realize how little has changed It is the story of your life, but perhaps it is just the story oflife. One of the problems with reviewing the earliest authors of fiction is that they were writing at a time before the rules had been properly worked out Novels took on the form we know and love because of these writer s successes and because of their failures It was up to them to forge the templates, and if a certain template didn t work then they could try a new one with the next book A Journal of the Plague year is a case in point Although Defoe was alive at the time of plague, this is actual One of the problems with reviewing the earliest authors of fiction is that they were writing at a time before the rules had been properly worked out Novels took on the form we know and love because of these writer s successes and because of their failures It was up to them to forge the templates, and if a certain template didn t work then they could try a new one with the next book A Journal of the Plague year is a case in point Although Defoe was alive at the time of plague, this is actually a fictional account written sixty years later but one which relies heavily on anecdotal reportage Defoe gives us a narrator to guide us through, but this man is just a cipher, a pair of eyes and ears to relate what he sees and hears We know where he lives, what he does, how many servants he has and that he has a brother, but not much else about him He is there to tell the tales Defoe heard, to describe scenes that Defoe saw or at least had described to him by others But the fact he has little definable character means there s an odd vacuum at the centre, a distance that stops the reader fully empathising It s a decision few authors of a later vintage would have taken, if only because they d learnt from this book s mistake In addition, as perhaps befits the first person account of a tradesman, the tale is not separated into chapters and rambles constantly down odd little cul de sacs With the result that it can often be an irritating read.That s not to say that there aren t good things in this book the descriptions of the mass graves and a populous so caught in madness they will proclaim their own sins in the middle of the road will certainly stay with me But this is not the most accessible of fictional histories and is a book that really makes you work hard for the treasures it has The Danse Macabre from The Seventh Seal is no mystery to me today why it is that the name of an eighteenth century novelist Moll Flanders, Robinson Crusoe is still known okay, not to everyone, but to readers of literature He s just flat out a great writer This book, which has been staring me in the face on my books to be read during the pandemic list for a few months, is just exactly the kind of literary mountain I have historically liked to cli The Danse Macabre from The Seventh Seal is no mystery to me today why it is that the name of an eighteenth century novelist Moll Flanders, Robinson Crusoe is still known okay, not to everyone, but to readers of literature He s just flat out a great writer This book, which has been staring me in the face on my books to be read during the pandemic list for a few months, is just exactly the kind of literary mountain I have historically liked to climb, for reasons probably closer to masochism than anything else But as I said, I liked Moll Flanders and Robinson Crusoe, and have a bunch of pandemic books unread on my to read list And then I thought I might see how the Black Death was like or unlike Covid 19 We know so muchnow, we are so advanced We respect science We know what to do to save ourselves I just now learned that DeFoe took a few years to write this book, in the form of a journal, publishing it in 1722 It was based on the occasion of The Black Death or, the Great Plague killed anywhere from 70 100,000 out of a total population of around 460,000 This was 1665, and the plague largely ended in London a year later when the Great London Fire would also decimate the city The world population was estimated at about 550 million at the time, and that plague they think may have killed as many as 25 million of the roughly 75 million living in Europe at the time.I know a few things about The Plague, or I thought I did, but DeFoe s novel, that fictionalizes an H.F as the narrator of his own journal, set me straight on a lot of things It was supposedly written based in part on the journal his uncle Henry Foe kept at the time, fortified by his own deep research of actual events and statistics I ll call the book historical fiction but it reads at times like science, counting infections and deaths in various wards, and so on But I really did expect to find when I read it that we know WAYtoday about plagues and pandemics than we did 250 years ago, and have changed as a human race enough to truly counteract the disease Decide for yourself Early on there was great denial that it was anything to really anything to worry about Oh, it s just like the flu, maybe a little worse, but it s so variable, why worry about it at all As it got worse, people of science as well as every day observers began to study it, of course Early on they deduced that the disease seemed to be transferred through effluvium, or bodily fluids, especially through respiration getting breathed on by those infected and possibly perspiration There were lots of theories that included transmission by insects such as flies that stand today, too At one point many thought animals were responsible, which led to the needless killing of thousands of pets and farmyard animals But imagine this People of science began to advocate for the wearing of masks and other head coverings Nah, can t work, you say A waste of time And many people did ignore this, in part bolstered by their courage that THEY would never get this disease People tried as much as they could to live life as they did before, ignoring doctors and health care professionals Especially after weeks in health care recommended lock down imagine this, people in the late seventeenth century were told to stay home and avoid large crowds at all costs Ignorance Don t they value their freedom Who are these supposedly scientific tools of totalitarianism people just got sick of the lockdown and went back to living as they did, pretending the Plague was over, thus spiking infections and deaths considerably, imagine But I mean, how many times can you see reruns of Andy of Mayberry or the X Files Get back to the bar, right Many defended their not paying attention to the Plague because of their religious beliefs, primarily re predestination, as in If God wants to take me, he will do that To fight against what God wants to do with my body is blasphemy Eat, drink and be merry Many religious people used the occasion of the Plague to blame any number of types of sinners for what was happening as a judgement from God for their sins like the Old Testament God that brought The Flood down on sinners to wipe out almost the entire human population As the disease progressed, it brought on any number of fake cures Plague Water for Sale Guaranteed to cure the Plague or your money back and charlatans and scams and price gouging This thermometer by my desk I got for 79, but could have been bought for around 12 six months ago Hoarding was typical among those wise enough to stay inside for great lengths of time, but in general people were largely unprepared for the tragedy, including the completely overwhelmed healthcare industry Lots of rumors and guesses proliferated Get a boat You ll be safe Hey, let s go on a cruise People are dying in London Get out of town and get out in the country or go abroad where there s no disease thus spreading it everywhere And this one early on was common Hoax But how to get around that, as one strain of The Black Death featured boils and other sores You could see many who had the infection, and then you could see the piles of bodies But the strain that killed you most quickly had almost no warning signs, was largely asymptomatic It spread like wildfire because people thought, I m not sick, let me give Grandma a big hug Imagine that The widespread death and lockdown led to paranoia, depression, madness, increases in crime, including theft of supplies and food and murder And There was widespread and massive grief for all the death, of course, so despair was rampant Suicides were up The poor were disproportionately affected, as they had to work or ignored the advice of professionals for various reasons As soon as the numbers of infections and deaths started to go down, things started to open up, people started to party, creatinginfections and deaths Nah Wouldn t happen today We re too smart for that There was no universal health system in fact there was almost no safety net at all, though The Church and some government agencies helped a little with Charity But the health care system didn t have a cure, a vaccine, of course They were not prepared for it Imagine DeFoe writing this as a guide to future generations to warn them to be ready if it ever happened again Of course it will never happen again, it s completely random We re completely safe The economy was of course shot, as businesses had to close, everyone lost their jobs, there was no money to buy anything Many heroic acts of charity were performed by health care and other leaders, helping to avert greater losses Aren t you glad that we especially in America, We are 1 know so muchthan we did 250 years ago Daniel Defoe wrote this fictionalised account by an author known only as H.F of the 1664 bubonic plague outbreak in London, otherwise known as the Black Death He wrote it some 50 years after the events Defoe was fascinated by plagues and did a huge amount of research, producing a work that was believed to be a true account for some decades after it was published I bought it several months ago and it seemed to be timely to read it now The parallels are chilling ..the Face of Things, I say, Daniel Defoe wrote this fictionalised account by an author known only as H.F of the 1664 bubonic plague outbreak in London, otherwise known as the Black Death He wrote it some 50 years after the events Defoe was fascinated by plagues and did a huge amount of research, producing a work that was believed to be a true account for some decades after it was published I bought it several months ago and it seemed to be timely to read it now The parallels are chilling ..the Face of Things, I say, was much altered Sorrow and Sadness sat upon every face and tho some Part were not yet overwhelmed, yet all looked deeply concerned and as we saw it apparently coming on, so everyone looked on himself, and his Family, as in the utmost Danger.it was a most surprising thing, to see those Streets, which were so usually thronged, now grown desolate, and so few People to be seen in them, that if I had been a Stranger, and at a Loss for my Way, I might sometimes have gone the Length of a whole Street.and see no Body to direct me.the Power of shutting up people in their own Houses, was granted by Act of Parliament, entitled, An Act for the charitable Relief and Ordering of Persons affected with the Plague confirmed an order of 1583 that those stricken by the plague be confined to their houses.to every infected House there be appointed two Watchmen, one for every Day, the other for the Night with a special care that no Person go in or out of such infected Houses, whereof they have the Charge, upon pain of severe punishment.That where several Inmates are in one and the same House, and any Person in that House happens to be infected no other Person of Family of such House shall be suffered to remove him or themselves without a Certificate from the Examiners of Health of that Parish That all Plays, Bear Baitings, Games..or such like Causes of Assemblies of People, be utterly prohibited..Dinners at Taverns, Alehouses, and other Places of common Entertainment be forbornThat no Vintner, Innholder, Cook, Ordinary Keeper, Seller of Strong Waters, Ale House keeper, shall henceforward, during the Infection receive or entertain any person or personsto eat or drink in their houses or shops.many Families foreseeing the Approach of the Distemper, laid up Stores of Provisions, sufficient for their whole Families, and shut themselves up, and that so entirely, that they were neither seen or heard of, till the Infection was quite ceased, and then came abroad Sound and Well..Peoplehave forbid their own Family to come near them, in Hopes of their being preserved and have even died without seeing their nearest Relations, lest they should be instrumental toinfect or endanger them..all Trades being stopt, Employment ceased the Labour, and by that the Bread of the Poor, were cut off..tho by the Distribution of Charity, their Misery that way was greatly abated Many indeed fled into the Countries they serv d for no better than the Messengers of Deathcarrying the Infection along with them spreading it very unhappily into the remotest Parts of the Kingdom.others.were silently infected.It was very sad to reflect, how such a Personhad been a walking Destroyer, perhaps for a Week or a Fortnight before that how he had ruin d those, that he would have hazarded his Life to save, and had been breathing Death upon them, even perhaps in his tender Kissing and Embracings of his own Children.many people..were as well to look on as other People, and even knew it not themselves.But from the whole I found, that the Nature of this Contagion was such, that it was impossible to discover it at all, or to prevent its spreading from one to another by any human Skill.a vast Number of People lock d themselves up, so as not to come abroad into any Company at all, nor suffer any, that had been abroad in promiscuous Company, to come into their Houses, or near them at least not so near them, as to be within the Reach of their Breath, or of any Smell from them..It must be acknowledg d, that when People began to use these Cautions, they were less exposed to Danger, and the Infection did not break into such Houses so furiously as it did into others before, and thousands of Families were preserved.by that Means.When the numbers dying started to decrease, people stopped being so cautious and traders flocked to London from the countryside This imprudent rash Conduct cost a great many their Lives, who had with great Care and Caution shut themselves up, and kept retir d as it were from all Mankind, and had by that means..been preserv d The Consequence of this was, that the Bills lists of fatalities encreas d again..A dreadful Plague in London was,In the year Sixty Five,Which swept an Hundred Thousand SoulsAway yet I alive H.F author 4 stars because it became quite repetitive at times but it is a fascinating account I skim read the last pages because of the worsening situation in our world For now, I feel the need for pure fantasy rather than fictionalised reality.Keep safe everyone Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted illegally The CCLaP 100 In which I read for the first time a hundred so called classics, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the labelEssay 62 A Journal of the Plague Year 1722 , by Daniel Defoe The story in a nutshell Although not actually written until sixty years later buton that in a bi Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted illegally The CCLaP 100 In which I read for the first time a hundred so called classics, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the labelEssay 62 A Journal of the Plague Year 1722 , by Daniel Defoe The story in a nutshell Although not actually written until sixty years later buton that in a bit , Daniel Defoe s 1722 A Journal of the Plague Year is pretty much what it sounds like a purportedly true account of London s Great Plague of 1665, the last outbreak of the bubonic plague the city would ever see, supposedly written by an average middle classer who decided to wait things out instead of fleeing to the countryside like so many others As such, then, the book doesn t really have a three act plot per se, but isa rambling collection of observations, anecdotes, and actual hard data from an examination of the religious fervor that overtook the city during the worst months, to a detailed look at how home quarantines actually worked, to second hand accounts of the equal amount of trouble awaiting poor peasants who tried living illegally in the rural wilds of England that year, to horror stories of people literally bursting into goo in the middle of public streets, or of cemetery workers who would literally die while on their way to mass graves with a cart full of corpses, leaving the city full of wandering teams of horses dragging dead bodies randomly to and fro Although almost 300 years old by now, be warned that this is still not for the faint of heart The argument for it being a classic The case for this being a classic is a pretty simple one it is arguably the very first historical novel in human history, and in fact it was the centuries of passionate debate about whether this should be considered fact or fiction that even led to the term in the first place, and to this genre eventually becoming as popular as it now is For example, although not proven, it s widely believed that our narrator H.F is based on Defoe s relative Henry Foe, who actually was a young adult craftsman in London during the 65 plague, and who may or may not have left a detailed journal where Defoe culled many of these stories and for another example, Defoe even went to the trouble of including slang terms and intentional misspellings from the 1660s that had fallen out of favor by the 1720s On top of this, though, say its fans, the book s simply one freaky nightmare of a read, a surprisingly plain spoken and readable book befitting the Enlightenment times when it was actually written that has had an enormous impact on not only historical novels but the horror genre and post apocalyptic fiction, and that has directly influenced everyone from Albert Camus to Cormac McCarthy to even Monty Python and the Holy Grail That movie s famous line Bring out yer dead was lifted directly from this book The argument against There seems to be two main arguments against The Plague Year being a classic, although admittedly both of them weak ones first, that as a mere prototype of a genre that didn t acquire its main tropes until a century later, the book s digressive nature and outdated language is hard to read and follow and second, that although this book may be good enough on its own, it s Defoe s muchfamous and important Robinson Crusoe that should actually be considered the indisputable classic, in that that s the book widely considered to be the very first three act novel in the history of the English language My verdict As I ve said in this essay series before, I think to truly enjoy books that are this old, it s important to understand the context in which they were written, and to know what kinds of things were influencing both the author himself and the original audience he was writing for and so in the case of The Plague Year, understanding this context makes the book muchfascinating than simply its writing quality may make it seem, and is crucial for understanding why I found this such a surprisingly fantastic read Because, you see, Defoe was not only one of the first novelists in British history a format he came to know and love during his travels in southern Europe as a businessman in the late 1600s , but he chose to use this format specifically to comment on the hottest, trendiest issues of the day, making him essentially the Michael Crichton of the Enlightenment and it just so happens that just a year before this was written, the French city of Marseilles went through a major new outbreak of the bubonic plague, which inspired the British public and its newfound journalism industry to obsessively look back at their own plague of 56 years previous, and to examine all the ways that their society had profoundly changed since then.Now combine this with the Great London Fire just one year after this 1665 plague, a one two knockout to the city that left it largely empty of people and burned to the ground, and was the very thing that transformed it in those years into the post Medieval modern infrastructure we now know when you take all these things into consideration, then, The Plague Year suddenly becomes not just a horror story and important precedent in the development of historical fiction, but indeed serves as no less than a grand epic look at the transformation of Britain in this 60 year period, from the last vestiges of the Middle Ages to the Age of Science of Defoe s own times I mean, certainly a lotof this book suddenly starts making a lotsense when you assume that this was Defoe s actual goal he goes on and on in it, for example, about the shamefully superstitious way that 1600s Londoners actually reacted to this plague a common criticism among Enlightenment citizens about the generation before them , and also takes the trouble to point out all the faulty ways that people medically tried to deal with this plague, outdated hokum that had been disproven by the modern doctors of Defoe s own time, and one of the many sneakily brilliant things that Defoe gets away with by writing this in reality half a century after the events that it describes.I mean, don t get me wrong, the book just by itself is pretty great on its own it s unusually easy to read compared to books written in the same time period, and really does have a kind of slasher flick mentality that makes it still so engaging even three centuries later But I have to admit, what makes it truly delightful is to imagine yourself as an average Enlightenment intellectual in the early 1700s yourself, to picture the ways that science and reason and philosophy were utterly transforming society at the time, literally wresting power away from the mysticism, fear and superstition that had mostly driven British life up to that point because let s never forget, it actually took several additional centuries for the principles of the Renaissance to truly catch on in Britain, after it first became popular in southern Europe in the late 1400s and then to imagine reading The Plague Year within such a context, the point not really to talk about plagues at all but rather to examine all the ways that British society had changed in the 60 years since, and to thank God that modern biological science was rapidly bringing an end to such plagues in the first place When read in this spirit, it makes The Plague Year one of the most surprisingly great books in the entirety of this essay series so far, and it comes strongly recommended to those who can maintain this attitude themselves.Is it a classic Yes And don t forget that the first 33 essays in this series are now available in book form You will notice right away Defoe s journalistic approach, rife with supporting statistics His powers as a writer and boldness of presentation are clearly beyond the pale As was the case with Robinson Crusoe, he was not forthright with sources or veracity in the tale It is often impossible to tell where he obtained his facts, and how much was mere invention.A Journal of the Plague year is a vast catalogue of deaths, in all manners of protracted agonies, distempers, including plenty of murther You will notice right away Defoe s journalistic approach, rife with supporting statistics His powers as a writer and boldness of presentation are clearly beyond the pale As was the case with Robinson Crusoe, he was not forthright with sources or veracity in the tale It is often impossible to tell where he obtained his facts, and how much was mere invention.A Journal of the Plague year is a vast catalogue of deaths, in all manners of protracted agonies, distempers, including plenty of murthering crazed wives fraught with frantic squalor He adds sensational moments of street nudity, boiling underwear, and displays everywhere the distress and agony, heartache and sorrow to be found He is not loathe to describe the ungodly boils, blisters and sacs, running with pus of myriad colours But what is most intriguing is often the instigation of further hazards, posed by human beings in the thrall of distress They are hazards of economy, selfishness, prurience, born from their inelegant, uncontrollable dying The fury of the contagion is not only crystal clear from the onset, it is obnoxiously apparent.As usual, Defoe employs 17th century nonstandarized spellings His articulate wordiness is beguiling The London plague was of topical interest, his belletristic swagger was prominent, and as a commercial, professional author ofthan 500 works, as vague as that accomplishment is he knows what he s bloody doing Defoe sought to dispel suspicious superstitions Journalistic writing was his mode, but his style becomes almost legalistic It s less readable than it is a defense of readability.What is called the Great Plague went by many names, including the Visitation, and Defoe inserts all the monickers, with his characteristic remarkable verisimilitude He is one of the authors responsible for bringing the English novel out of its infancy Is this an essential classic I personally don t believe so You might summarize the book as Various divers tales about the Distemper and how it carried away man, woman, and childe As was the case for Robinson Crusoe, many readers believed the Journal to be an eyewitness account in its time Defoe omitted his name from the original publication and would have been 5 years old when the book takes place He describes in his roundabout way a natural machine or mortality, coupled with the creaking of death carts, the reek of rotting piles of rats along the trenches, and an endless number of atmospheric set pieces.I found the work, on the whole, very tedious The minutiae it describes was by turns fascinating, but the accumulation, while probably fairly true, strains believability inthan one way Defoe had to have invented parts of it which parts though, are well hid I ve read 4 of his other novels, and greatly enjoyed them all This was his driest, the most disturbing, and also his most journalistic work of the bunch I will never revisit this incessantly brooding, grim, tragic, historical document On the other hand, I greatly look forward to reading his other novels He is a keen observer of the human animal Many of his literary documentaries are creative masterpieces, but I found this one overlong and essentially the same experience as reading 300 pages of reportage.It is worth perusing if you are curious about old fashioned regulations and customs There is no plot or character development The main character is a generic upstanding citizen, a moral, unpanicked, detached surveyor amid chaos.By this point, if we are at all literate, we have seen these images elsewhere Holocausts, genocides, pandemics The fear imagery associated with them should be familiar to us This does not immunize us to their power, but we are not as shocked as most people were centuries ago by the thought of mountains of human corpses What also renders the text difficult is the wandering method Defoe employs He foregoes chapter breaks for a realistic scrawl of data, theses, and key details It was as if he boiled down 3000 pages of notes to the most essential, most alarming facts and speculations, and then summarized them one after another after another until he reached the requisite length I believe he wrote another piece on plagues, but searching his immense bibliography is likely to arouse confusion He was a great, influential and interesting writer, but this resembles his nonfictionthan his fiction

A Journal of the Plague Year ePUB ´ of the  Kindle
  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • A Journal of the Plague Year
  • Daniel Defoe
  • English
  • 03 June 2019
  • 0140437851