A Journal of the Plague Year


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God does send the plague in general : Doubtless the Visitation itself is a stroke from Heaven upon a City, or Country, or Nation where it falls; a Messanger of his Vengeance, and a loud Call to that Nation, or Country, or City, to Humiliation and Repentance.

Among these Causes and Effects this of the secret Conveyance of Infection imperceptible, and unavoidable, is more than sufficient to execute the Fierceness of divine Vengeance, without putting it upon Supernaturals and Miracle. Sure in Defoe's view, the rescue of the odd individual here and there can be ascribed to divine providence, and natural causes are ultimately divine in origin, but natural processes are a major preoccupation in the text.

When considering potential infective agents, Defoe brings up good old miasma, bad sweat, and killer halitosis, among others, but also: Others talk of infection being carried on by the air only by carrying with it vast numbers of insects and invisible creatures, who enter into the body with the breath or even at the pores with the air and there generate or emit most acute poisons or poisonous ova or eggs, which mingle themselves with the blood and so infect the body. Defoe also interpolates actual Bills of Mortality from throughout: death counts in London organized by week and by parish.

He uses pre-plague data as a kind of control in several speculations about plague prevalence and the populations most affected. The pieces are here, people! So, yeah.


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Repetitious, messy, and archaically capitalized it may be, but this is a fascinating document of scientific history. Aug 04, J. Keely rated it it was ok Shelves: uk-and-ireland , reviewed , plague.

And so it was that the plague came into London, by the mercy of God, and I thought I would remain in the city despite the plague, for since God made it, I could not escape it if he meant me to perish from it, viz. But I would say the best way to avoid the plague and to survive would be to leave the city, as many did, when th And so it was that the plague came into London, by the mercy of God, and I thought I would remain in the city despite the plague, for since God made it, I could not escape it if he meant me to perish from it, viz.

Selections from _A Journal of the Plague Year_ by Daniel Defoe

But I would say the best way to avoid the plague and to survive would be to leave the city, as many did, when the signs of the plague came, for in this way, many survived who would not have, by the grace of God, for though God created the plague, which cannot be hoped to be avoided, we are no Mahometans who believe our lives predetermined. But, the Lord Mayor should not have locked people with the plague up in their houses, for this was a cruel thing, and I think many died who had no reason to from this expedient, viz.

I rejoice that God sent this plague to kill so many unpleasant people, viz. Though it was difficult to go to church, for so many of the priests had died, and so many of those who came in and prayed for their lives, and their families lives, which was the best thing they could do, even though the plague travels on the breath and to be in church is very dangerous for this reason, doubtless God spared the good people who deserved life, viz. Now I must tell you a sad story about a man who I knew to be extremely generous and pious, and whose wife was chaste and always kind, and who had two infant children.

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The children both died of the plague, followed by the wife, who did not even know she had it, and then he was driven to madness by the plague and ran through the streets naked and babbling, before he also died. I feel it was necessary to relate this story, for there are many such like it, and though I cannot declare it's veracity myself, it seems so likely that I must needs include it here, viz. And I should say that the Lord Mayor should not have locked people with the plague up in their houses, for this was a cruel thing, and I think many died who had no reason to from this expedient, viz.

There are some physicians who say that the disease can be detected by taking a microscope to the exhalation of a victim, whereupon will be seen many tiny monsters, viz. Some poor, ignorant folks went to fortune tellers or other such liars and payed monies to have certain rituals performed or symbols given which were meant to protect them, viz. Luckily, most of the poor took faith in the church, wearing crosses or invoking saints and praying each day and night to be spared, which I am certain the greater part were. But I should not end this account without first speaking of a certain crime: the Lord Mayor should not have locked people with the plague up in their houses, for this was a cruel thing, and I think many died who had no reason to from this expedient, viz.

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Jun 13, Anca rated it really liked it Shelves: 10 , summer Historical fiction about the plague of London in 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 pe Historical fiction about the plague of London in 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. 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. That, cumulated with an upsetting redundance towards the end definitely reduced my enthusiasm. But that's just details. View all 3 comments. Apr 03, Kim rated it really liked it Shelves: classics , read-again , four-star-novels , defoe-daniel , r-r.

The book was first published in March , 57 years after the event. A Journal of the Plague Year is an account, a "journal", of one man's experiences in the year , in which the Great Plague struck the city of London. The book is told mostly in the order things happened, as far as I can tell anyway, though there are no chapters, it's just all one big story, which co A Journal of the Plague Year is a novel by Daniel Defoe, telling the story of the Great Plague in London in the year The book is told mostly in the order things happened, as far as I can tell anyway, though there are no chapters, it's just all one big story, which come to think of it, doesn't sound like a journal at all, at least not one of my journals.

And now that I have come to think of it, it bugs me, no one writes a journal that isn't separated into days, weeks, or at least months I would think. Oh well, I'll try to move on from that now annoying detail to say that the book is written in the first person, told by a narrator who couldn't have been Defoe himself because Defoe was only five years old in Whoever the mysterious narrator is, he signs the book at the end with the initials H.

At least that's what the introduction says, and I didn't go on a big Henry Foe search to see if it is true, at least not yet anyway. The book begins with H. It mattered not from whence it came; but all agreed it was come into Holland again. I thought the plague swept through wherever it swept through and was gone forever. And I certainly didn't think anyone could get it more than once. However, it seems that not only does it return, but it returns over and over again. At least it did a long time ago. Which now has me wondering if it is possible that the bubonic plague is still around.

Another thing I'll have to go look up.

A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe

A few pages later it says: "This last bill was really frightful, being a higher number than had been known to have been buried in one week since the preceding visitation of That must have been terrifying, not knowing when it may come back. Oh, and although in the book we have all sorts of people believing all sorts of things as to how the plague started in the first place, it is now known that it was caused by fleas that come from rats.

Figures, I hate rats. And mice, and fleas for that matter. And a whole lot of other bugs and rodents come to think of it. Oh, by the way, if you happen to look up the Great Plague you get a lot of pictures of fleas and rats.

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Wonderful, I'm not going to look it up anymore. There are lots of details in this book that I enjoyed, but I kept wishing I had a map of London in to see where all these places were. There are names of streets, names of churches, pubs, shops and parishes. Did you know there are 97 parishes in London? I didn't, but I do now. One of the things that puzzled me about people's behavior during this terrible time was how they would try to hide the fact that they or someone in their family had the disease: " it began to be suspected that the plague was among the people at that end of the town, and that many had died of it, though they had taken care to keep it as much from the knowledge of the public as possible.

The shutting up of houses is just what it sounds like, if someone in the house had the plague than the house was "shut up". It was locked and guarded, no one leaves, whether they have the plague or not. After all, they've been living for who knows how long with a plague victim, there is a good chance they already have the plague. So everyone in the house stays in the house. And because of this people were always either trying to hide the fact that someone in the house had the plague at all, or were thinking of ways to escape from the house.

While I can see why the healthy people didn't want to be locked up in the same house as the sick people, I didn't understand why the sick people went to so much trouble to escape, and for that matter although I could understand how the healthy people felt I wouldn't have tried to escape. At least I hope I wouldn't have, for I would have been afraid of just what the authorities seemed to be afraid of, that I would give this horrible plague to someone else.


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So hopefully I would have locked myself in the house without any help from watchmen or other authorities. Which brings me to watchmen and other authorities.

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