While researching for my paper on Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, I found some information that I found to be quite interesting. In the paper, I researched the ways in which the journal is life-like, and Defoe’s purpose for writing such a realistic fiction text. I found out that the debate over whether or not the book is fiction or historical has been an ongoing one, since the publication of the book. He had fooled many readers into thinking that the text was an entirely true account, because the original was not published with his name attached as the author. Otherwise, it would have been obvious that it was not all true, since he only would have been approximately five years old at the time of the plague. During my research I learned a bit about Defoe’s family, in particular, his uncle Henry Foe (who coincidentally has the same initial as the proclaimed author). His uncle also shared other traits with H.F from Defoe’s book. Personally I was convinced when reading it that the novel was truth, but after researching, I was more convinced that he simply collected facts from different stories that he had heard about the plague, and put them together creatively, adding information and details where he saw fit. I assumed that he wrote the book with his uncle in mind, using him as a model after which to create his character. To me, it is irrelevant whether or not the stories are true; that’s what history books are for. Defoe simply used his skills to convince people that his work was true, and although he may not be considered to be the greatest writer who ever was, he certainly stirred some debate among his peers, and the debate continues today. The following is a list of sources used, in case any of you wanted to check it out! :
Bastian, F. “Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year Reconsidered.” Review of English
Studies: a Quarterly Journal of English Literature and the English Language. 16.62
(1965): 151-73. Print.
Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year. N.p.: Project Gutenburg, 2006. Project
Gutenburg, 16 Jan. 2006. Web. 10 Nov. 2012<http://www.gutenberg.org/files/376/376-
“Ideas + Reviews – Second Read – Nicholson Baker Tackles Questions of Fact and
Fiction in Daniel Defoe’s a Journal of the Plague Year.” Columbia Journalism Review. (2009): 50. Print.
McKinlay, Alan. “Foucault, Plague, Defoe.” Culture and Organization. 15.2 (2009): 167-184.
Miller, Benjamin Frank, and Claire Brackman Keane. Encyclopedia and Dictionary of
Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1978. 780. Print.
Zimmerman, Everett. “H. F.’s Meditations: a Journal of the Plague Year.” Pmla: Publications
of the Modern Language Association of America. 87.3 (1972): 417-23. Print.