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A Journal Of The Plague Year Relié – 1960

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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Le Londres de 1665, la peste racontée par Daniel Defoe, les détails incroyables depuis les causes jusqu'à l'organisation de la ville, de la population, la violence de l'épidémie et ses aspects désastreux et effrayants ainsi que les conséquences de ce fléau, même s'il s'agit d'une fiction, c'est aussi un véritable témoignage.
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93 internautes sur 95 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Public health primer 15 janvier 2003
Par A.J. - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Probably one of the first examples of journalistic fiction, Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year" is a pseudo-eyewitness account of the London plague of 1665. Writing this in 1722, Defoe casts himself into the role of his uncle whom he calls H.F. and who recounts the events in grisly detail but with magnanimous compassion. Aside from the prose, the book has a surprisingly modern edge in the way it combines facts about a sensationally dire historical event with "human interest" stories for personal appeal. It seems so factual that at times it's easy to forget that it's just a fictitious account of a real event.
The plague (H.F. writes) arrives by way of carriers from the European mainland and spreads quickly through the unsanitary, crowded city despite official preventive measures; the symptoms being black bruises, or "tokens," on the victims' bodies, resulting in fever, delirium, and usually death in a matter of days. The public effects of the plague are readily imaginable: dead-carts, mass burial pits, the stench of corpses not yet collected, enforced quarantines, efforts to escape to the countryside, paranoia and superstitions, quacks selling fake cures, etc. Through all these observations, H.F. remains a calm voice of reason in a city overtaken by panic and bedlam. By the time the plague has passed, purged partly by its own self-limiting behavior and partly by the Great Fire of the following year, the (notoriously inaccurate) Bills of Mortality indicate the total death toll to be about 68,000, but the actual number is probably more like 100,000 -- about a fifth of London's population.
Like Defoe's famous survivalist sketch "Robinson Crusoe," the book's palpable moralism is adequately camouflaged by the conviction of its narrative and the humanity of its narrator, a man who, like Crusoe, trusts God's providence to lead him through the hardships, come what may. What I like about this "Journal" is that its theme is more relevant than its narrow, dated subject matter suggests: levelheadedness in the face of catastrophe and the emergence of a stronger and wiser society.
23 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A stunning blend of fact and imagination. 9 septembre 2000
Par Frank Lynch - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Defoe has pulled off something brilliant here. Although he was only 5 years old in 1665 (the year of the title), in 1720 he set down a narrative full of rich details blending fact and imagination. The thoroughness of his descriptions and the constant realism come close to convincing you that these are first-hand observations: but these are *not* first hand observations; his narrator is a fiction, recalling events he saw as an adult.
The persuasiveness of Defoe's fiction comes from his specificity, and little comments suggesting the narrator has an additional life outside the Journal. He mentions not only the dead (and the increasing losses), but the quacks taking advantage of the gullible, the quarantining of infected houses, the marks on the doors, the efforts to escape from quarantined houses, the efforts of the mayor's offfice to limit the spread of infection, and the public pits where the bodies were thrown. And so on into the facets of everyday life. Through it all, his portrayal of the narrator also has a personal richness, a consistent first-person perspective; the conceit is reinforced by insertions such as "what I wrote of my private meditations I reserve for private use, and desire it may not be made public on any account whatever." The narrator is a product of Defoe's imagination, of course, and similarly, any private meditations such a narrator would have. But Defoe has cleverly made the narrator real.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 So realistic you forget you're reading fiction 22 juillet 2000
Par Bluestalking Reader - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Daniel Defoe put a lot of research into his 'Journal of the Plague Year,' yet it doesn't read like a history report. Rather, this is a novel so realistic you can quite literally feel what it must have been like to have lived in London at the time of the plague. The facts as he knew them, both from reading and interviews with those who lived through it, are revealed to us throughout the narrative. You get every detail of the plague, from the symptoms to the hysteria to the steps the government took to help insure the safety of the people. 'Journal of the Plague Year' is a fascinating and imminently readable book.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A convincing fictional diary of the Plague of 1665 5 juillet 2010
Par Rick Skwiot - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Thanks to 20th century medical and public health advances, we now know how to prevent, stem, and treat most infectious diseases. Though a few folks may still recall the flu epidemic of 1918, which cost 20 millions lives worldwide and a half million in the United States alone, for most of us living outside the Third World, fear of epidemic has become largely a thing of the past.

But if you wish to glimpse daily life under the threat of impending death by disease (without actually being threatened by it), along with the accompanying grief, despair, depravity, kindness, and courage, Daniel Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year" can take you there.

However, Defoe`s classic work is neither a journal nor of the plague year. Rather, it consists of an odd and hardly chronological collection of anecdotes, statistics, and ruminations written by the author of Moll Flanders some fifty years after the Plague of 1665 (when he was but a child of four). While pretending to be a first person eyewitness account of the epidemic, the Journal is in fact convincingly realistic fiction. The author has wisely created a narrator and a literary vehicle that powerfully portrays 17th century London and the agonies of an epidemic that killed more than 100,000 in the city.

Early on, Defoe establishes credibility for his fictional construct by quoting detailed figures (seemingly culled from official documents) on the growing death tolls as the Black Death spread across London. Further, throughout the book he documents the legal measures, such as quarantining households, and describes the medical endeavors to fight the disease and its spread. But more important, having once persuaded the reader of the authenticity of his tale, Defoe gets under the skin of the plague by showing the human suffering and drama it created.

He accomplishes this through his fictional narrator, a bachelor merchant who saunters about London hearing cries of pain, listening to tales of death, observing grief-deranged survivors roaming the streets, and even visiting the mass graves where, under the cover of night, death carts dump their grisly loads.

Also, we are privy to the deliberations of our moralistic but pragmatic narrator--on whether or not to flee London with his brother's family, on predestination and free will, on the quackery and skullduggery that fed on fear and ignorance. This imaginative character's active, intelligent, and detailed surveillance of the epidemic places us in the streets of London and creates a work of lasting vitality.

Through him we see the people's susceptibility to omens, religious superstition, prophets of doom, and astrologers; to quacks, charlatans, and fortune-tellers. We glimpse the duplicity and cowardice of the government and ruling class, who frequently fled London to save their own skins while abandoning their servants to penury and possible infection. We view mountebanks fleecing desperate families, nurses murdering and robbing their lingering patients, and the sick taking their own lives to save themselves a last few hours of pain. But we also are shown acts of great kindness, courage, charity, and love, as well as human ingenuity in service of a will to survive in the face of seeming doom.

Ultimately, the book is perhaps not so much about the plague as about human nature, of which Defoe is a keen observer, showing us that 17th century Londoners are not much different from ourselves. .

But as gloomy as this subject matter may seem, he can present it with a light and often-humorous touch, as in his story of the drunken piper. The beggar had passed out on the street after given an uncustomarily large amount to drink. A second man, thinking the piper a corpse, laid a plague victim beside him for the death cart to retrieve. The piper did not revive until about to pushed into a mass grave. He called out, "Where am I?" The sexton replied, "Why you are in the dead-cart, and we are going to bury you." The piper then asked, "But I ain't dead though, am I?"

Defoe presents the enigmatic narrator as both deeply affected by the suffering and aloof. He roams about London and its environs with seemingly little concern for his own well-being, at times viewing the horrific scenes with passion and compassion, and at other moments from a distant, Archimedean point of intellectual detachment. Along the way we get the narrator's (and, we suspect, the author's) views on religion, criminal justice, public health measures, medicine, government, and economics.

The pragmatism of Defoe's narrator shows through in his discussion of the last. Virtually all commerce came to a halt in the months when the plague ruled. Ships did not dock, shops closed, construction stopped, and economic life was put on hold while death profited. Defoe shows us the repercussions of this economic death--not only the hardship, the admirable efforts of certain government officials to help the needy, and the charity of many--but also how it helped stem the spread of the disease by reducing contact among people.

In the end, it's Defoe's details that win out, making this fictional account read as the intimate first-person portrayal it purports to be: the 200,000 pet dogs and cats rounded up and slaughtered to help prevent the epidemic's spread; the infection and quick death of infants who fed at the breasts of their diseased mothers; the public whippings of those who stole from the dead; the excruciating pain of the swellings brought on by the bubonic plague and the perhaps even more painful attempts by physicians to break the tumors with hot irons. Such details as these, perhaps too realistically rendered for the squeamish, give "A Journal of the Plague Year" an irresistible authority.

However, the whole conceit might have fallen flat had it not been crafted with such a deft, and I think, sly, touch. Defoe's language never flies toward hyperbole, but is grounded in seemingly careful observation--even when the narrator is deeply moved. Defoe's slyness is evident in his narrator often claiming faulty memory or lack of knowledge--"whether he lived or died I don't remember"--which augments the verisimilitude of his highly creative and still haunting work.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Rare record of a terrible year. 7 janvier 2005
Par Tony Watson - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This fictionalised journal (written decades after the event when Defoe was only 5 years old) argues its case better by a bald statement of facts, than by any elaborate literary devices. This reads like it is meant to be, a journal, bringing home the horrors of that awful time in a way that a second-hand description could never do.

Having said that, this account IS second-hand; it is only Defoe's journalistic expertise, boyhood memories and down-to-earth style that make it so believable.

BUT - anyone who reads this should not expect another Gulliver's Travels - it IS heavy going; it's not a book that one can curl up with & relax, you have to work for your entertainment.

The main point that comes across is the constant religious undercurrent, which was, I guess, typical of the time (if not of Defoe) and the willingness to attach blame for anything unusual to outsiders, or God's will, rather than examine their own circumstances (so what's changed in 339 years!?). As one of the few records of that terrible year, this deserves a place on any amateur historian's bookshelf.
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