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A Journal of the Plague Year (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 6 Mar 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (6 Mar. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393961885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393961881
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 0.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 688,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel Defoe was a Londoner, born in 1660 at St Giles, Cripplegate, and son of James Foe, a tallow-chandler. He changed his name to Defoe from c. 1695. He was educated for the Presbyterian Ministry at Morton's Academy for Dissenters at Newington Green, but in 1682 he abandoned this plan and became a hosiery merchant in Cornhill. After serving briefly as a soldier in the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion, he became well established as a merchant and travelled widely in England, as well as on the Continent.

Between 1697 and 1701 he served as a secret agent for William III in England and Scotland, and between 1703 and 1714 for Harley and other ministers. During the latter period he also, single-handed, produced the Review, a pro-government newspaper. A prolific and versatile writer he produced some 500 books on a wide variety of topics, including politics, geography, crime, religion, economics, marriage, psychology and superstition. He delighted in role-playing and disguise, a skill he used to great effect as a secret agent, and in his writing he often adopted a pseudonym or another personality for rhetorical impact.

His first extant political tract (against James II) was published in 1688, and in 1701 appeared his satirical poem The True-Born Englishman, which was a bestseller. Two years later he was arrested for The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters, an ironical satire on High Church extremism, committed to Newgate and pilloried. He turned to fiction relatively late in life and in 1719 published his great imaginative work, Robinson Crusoe. This was followed in 1722 by Moll Flanders and A Journal of the Plague Year, and in 1724 by his last novel, Roxana.

His other works include A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, a guide-book in three volumes (1724-6; abridged Penguin edition, 1965), The Complete English Tradesman (1726), Augusta Triumphans, (1728), A Plan of the English Commerce (1728) and The Complete English Gentleman (not published until 1890). He died on 24 April 1731. Defoe had a great influence on the development of the English novel and many consider him to be the first true novelist.


Product Description

Review

The London of an earlier period - 1665 - is brought vividly and pungently back to life. (Cannock and Rugeley Chronicle)

Gruesomely compulsive reading. (Colin Waters, Sunday Herald) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Paula R. Backsheider is Professor of English at the University of Rochester, where she has taught since 1975. Her biography, Daniel Defoe: His Life, won the 1990 British Council Prize for the Best Book in the Humanities. She is also the author of Daniel Defoe: Ambition and Innovation; A Being More Intense: The Prose Works of Bunyan, Swift, and Defoe; and Moll Flanders: The Making of a Criminal Mind. She has written and edited other books and a number of articles on Defoe and eighteenth-century literature.

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First Sentence
IT was about the Beginning of September 1664, that I, among the Rest of my Neighbours, heard in ordinary Discourse, that the Plague was return'd again in Holland; for it had been very violent there, and particularly at Amsterdam and Roterdam, in the Year 1663, whither they say, it was brought, some said from Italy, others from the Levant among some Goods, which were brought home by their Turkey Fleet; others said it was brought from Candia; others from Cyprus. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Coleman on 14 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wanted to read this purely because it's now something that, in modern times, is almost unthinkable - a plague that could wipe out such a large proportion of the population.

DeFoe's account is fictional, but obviously based on handed-down accounts of what actually occurred in 1665 and what life was like for Londoners during the year of the plague. It's written in the style of an observer, caught up amidst the chaos, who battles with the fear and urge to flee, the tragedy of seeing the suffering of plague victims all around him, and also the political aspect, regarding decisions made by the authorities to lock down the houses of anyone infected, including their families, effectively giving them all a death-sentence.

There are plenty of references to the stories of individuals struggling to survive, as well as gruesome but very sympathetically-written accounts of the death waggons, burial pits and symptoms of the plague itself.

It really is an absolutely fascinating read...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
What I like best about DeFoe is that he is very readable and can hold your attention for hours. Sure, he can contradict himself at times and he does have a flair for repetition and while he is not above pointing out the obvious, DeFoe is extremely interesting. "A Journal of the Plague Year" contains all the things DeFoe is noted for including a sharp eye for detail and sly humour. I liked this book and recommend it mainly because much of what DeFoe observed about human nature in the early 18th century is still relevant today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Gardener on 21 Oct. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book, but found it rather laborious at times, and it did not flow well. In fairness, given it was written over 300 years ago, it tells of the life Londoners were living in the plague years. It was quite frightening imagining the crude methods they had for containing the plague, and the lack of sanitation, and housekeeping they were able to employ at the time. Particularly fascinating was the story of the men who left London for the uninfected suburbs to find they ended up in my town, which thankfully was plague free !
This would also be a good read for any teenager studying early London life for history, and reminds us how far we have evolved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mole TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Jan. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was written by Daniel Defoe (who wrote 'Robinson Crusoe'); as he was only a small boy when the plague ravaged London, it is a work of fiction rather than a true diary account, although it is written in that format.

The book is without chapters, just one long continuous series of text. It is written in the style of the time, and this can combine to make it difficult to read. In addition, the tables of figures are not correctly rendered within the ebook version, which makes them hard to understand.

However, once you do start to read the book, you very quickly get caught up in the narrative. The story is extremely graphic; there are numerous descriptions of the affects of the disease on the population, and how individuals reacted. There are equally disturbing accounts of the collection and burial of the dead, and of the attempts to counter the spread of illness, as well as information on how the authorities worked to keep the inhabitants of the city fed and safe.

If you have an interest in social history, this book is a must. If you know little about the plague, this will help you understand just how devastating it was; and it may even give an insight into some of the issues that people face when dealing with chronic outbreaks of disease. It may even help in preparation for the next major flu epidemic!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R B W on 30 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am amazed that this book has got so many 5 star reviews, the author, even for his day has an extremely tedious habit of spelling everything out several times over, if someone were to write an abridged version giving the same facts and details it would end up being less than half the length. To summarise my sentiments, it's rather like the horrible modern habit that many commercial television programmes have, for the supposedly brain dead, of repeating everything immediately before and after the commercial break and then again during the programme. Some of us are lucky enough to get things after being told them once thank you. I'm afraid that I never finished this book because of the above.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By rob@cooperbrown.com on 29 April 2000
Format: Paperback
I was interested in this book because it promised an account by one who was there and not by student historians who make a living by guessing our past. The gripping eye-witness descriptions make up for the often tedious death toll listings which, once you've read one are best skipped over. A symapthetic view - not too dark.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Benito on 3 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I feel I should add another glowing review to those already submitted. I won't go into the reasons why - every other 5 star review covers all the points I'd make myself. I will say that this is NOT a work of fiction as suggested by other reviewers (how can it possibly be fictional?). It is a contemporary journal/account of the epidemic and how it affected the population of London (and surrounding countryside), but it reads like a novel at times.
Highly recommended for people with an interest in history or the subject matter.
PS I have the Kindle version - only one or two transcription errors (they don't affect the quality) and downloaded for free!!!
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