A Journal of the Plague Year, being observations or memorials of the most remarkable occurrances.

Daniel Defoe has a thing for long overexpalnatory titles. Between A Journal of the plague year: being observations or memorials of the most remarkable occurrences, as well publick as private, which happened in London during the last Great Visitation in 1665 and the book commonly known as Moll Flanders, he’s got to be in the running for the most long-winded titles ever. The book itself is a fairly dry but informative fictional presentation of life in London during the Plague of 1665. It fills a niche that maybe didn’t need filling, since Samuel Pepys published a non-fictionalized account of the same event. But I haven’t read Pepys, so I have to give credit where it’s due: Defoe manages to work some pretty good narrative among his opinions on how things could be better managed and tables of mortality statistics. The sense of urgency is never quite there — one gets the sensation that the narrator is insufferably overconfident. In a modern work he’d surely die horribly for his pride, but nothing really bad happens to him, and other people are not really regarded particularly except as numbers, so it all feels a bit hollow and lacks that vital spark needed to make the Plague actually seem horrific.

See also: Wikipedia.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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