Paul Lawrence's Reviews > A Journal of the Plague Year

A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
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Feb 23, 10

it was amazing

Journal of a Plague Year was written in 1722, 57 years after the 1665 plague. So it is a fictional 'journal' rather than a true tale. Nevertheless, Defoe may have had some memory of events - he would have been five at the time. Defoe himself was a political commentator, journalist and secret agent, as well as the author of Robinson Crusoe. In his life he was pilloried, imprisoned, and at one stage faced the prospect of execution through his involvement in the Monmouth Rebellion. The book itself is quite short (my edition has 186 pages), and although written in that somewhat ornate style of the time, is easy to read. It is written in the first person, the journal of a man living in London at the outbreak of plague, who tells not only his own story, but stories he hears of others, notably the tale of the biscuit-maker, the sailmaker and the joiner and their travels through the countryside. Woven into the story are some historical records - the Bills of Mortality and the Plague Orders, for example. For me a wonderful read in that it presents such a rich and multi-layered picture of the events of the Plague, in a way that the contemporary diarists of the age only really touch on.
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