Anca 's Reviews > A Journal of the Plague Year

A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
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Jun 23, 09

bookshelves: 10, read-in-unfamiliar-places, summer-2009
Read in June, 2009

Historical fiction about the plague of London in 1665. Defoe was just a 5 year old child when it happened but documented about it in exhaustive details so it will sound like a real life journal. It is first person narrative but it does not focus on the person of H.F, a saddler that stayed to protect his business (presumed to be based on Defoe's uncle, Henry Foe that lived through it), but on general means.
There are many details about parishes affected, official decisions, the frauds deceiving people, logic assumings about the plague's spreading, occasional particular stories/anecdotes to make a general point. The narrator neutrally presents a detailed account of the situation.

I was fascinated about the bubonic plague ever since I've read Camus' The Plague. Of course, Defoe handles it entirely different, the human despair in a crisis and the candor that follows up a tragedy are mentioned with resignation because it is all flushed away soon after the refugees return. So it is obviously not Defoe's aim to point it.
The narrator is a well respected man that I sympathized with for his attitude and openness. He has medical & religious beliefs that I suppose are of the most common sense you could find those days (happily he doesn't linger over the latter). I think that the book's axis is the interest given to the poor, despite his belonging to the middle class. Because the writing is so unpolished that it reads like a report, it won't strike a chord but rather state a historical reality and force the readers into the acknowledge of a misfortunate category of people (especially in the context of the growing illuminism movement). At that time, it's likely Defoe also intentioned it to serve as a guide for the future cities struck by the disease.

-The book's structure (no chapter/headings) made it slightly difficult to read. That, cumulated with an upsetting redundance towards the end definitely reduced my enthusiasm. But that's just details.
-The foreword (for the Romanian edition) is very welcomed as it sets the book in a historic & literary context; plus, a perspective over Defoe's life and work.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Brisbride13 defoe didn't write a journal of the plague. it's fiction, but believed to come from his uncle's journal!


Anca The first words of my review are "historical fiction".


Brisbride13 I stand corrected...found many reviews where people were touting it as Defoe's work...I apologize


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