Defoe’s interesting account of the last “Great Plague” outbreak in London in 1665. It is presented as a biography in a direct, journalistic style. Truthfully, Defoe was 5 years old at the time of the outbreak and received the majority of his material from both his father and an uncle. It is, therefore, a clever exercise in fiction by a master writer. — John, Vroman's
In 1665 the plague swept through London, claiming over 97,000 lives. Daniel Defoe was just five at the time of the plague, but he later called on his own memories, as well as his writing experience, to create this vivid chronicle of the epidemic and its victims. A Journal (1722) follows Defoe's fictional narrator as he traces the devastating progress of the plague through the streets of London. Here we see a city transformed: some of its streets suspiciously empty, some - with crosses on their doors - overwhelmingly full of the sounds and smells of human suffering. And every living citizen he meets has a horrifying story that demands to be heard.
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About the Author
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) had a variety of careers including merchant, soldier, secret agent, and political pamphleteer. He wrote economic texts, history, biography, crime, and, most famously, fiction, including Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders and Roxana. Cynthia Wall is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
"Within the texture of Defoe's prose, London becomes a living and suffering being." (Peter Ackroyd)