“The surprise ‘must-read’ for people facing the Covid-19 epidemic.” —The Telegraph
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.
“One of the most original and harrowing accounts of living through a virulent pandemic . . . as full of meaning about human suffering today as it was when it was written.” —The Daily Beast
“A brilliant account of the last major outbreak of bubonic plague in Britain—and it can still educate readers three centuries later.” —BBC News
“[A] classic of plague literature . . . Camus was inspired by this book in writing The Plague.” —The Jerusalem Post
“So grimly immediate . . . you can practically smell the death and decay.” —The Guardian
“A realistic account of the plague’s effects on [London]. Defoe’s novel still has the power to unsettle—like when he writes about families forced into quarantine due to an infected family member.” —Vulture
"Within the texture of Defoe's prose, London becomes a living and suffering being." —Peter Ackroyd