Автор Daniel Defoe
The Plague is a disease that has a long and tragic history alongside humanity’s development of tightly-packed cities. A Journal of a Plague Year is a first-person narrative account of London’s last great plague outbreak in 1665, which killed an estimated 100,000 people in just 18 months.
Though written in the first-person perspective by Daniel Defoe, he was only 5 years old during the outbreak. The initials at the end of the work, “H. F.,” suggest that Journal is based on accounts of Defoe’s uncle, Henry Foe.
This highly readable short novel is fascinating not just as a historical account, but in its description of how people reacted to a deadly disease that they understood to be contagious, but yet had no cure for. Defoe derides quack doctors who killed more than they saved, and then themselves succumbed to plague. He tells of people turning to religion; of people driven mad by the death around them and raving in the streets; of people fleeing to the country, and of others barricading themselves in their homes. The ways people reacted in 1665 could be the very same ways people might have reacted today to a mysterious, deadly, and highly contagious outbreak.
Robinson Crusoe is one of the most popular books ever written in the English language, published in innumerable editions and translated into almost every language of the world, not to mention the many versions created in film, television and even radio. First published in 1719, it can also claim to be one of the first novels ever written in English.
Written in the form of an autobiography, it describes the life of the eponymous narrator Robinson Crusoe. A wild youth, he breaks away from his family to go to sea. After many adventures including being captured and made into a slave, he is eventually shipwrecked on a remote island off the coast of South America. Crusoe is the only survivor of the wreck. He is thus forced to find ways to survive on the island without any other assistance. His first years are miserable and hard, but he ultimately manages to domesticate goats and raise crops, making his life tolerable. While suffering from an illness, he undergoes a profound religious conversion, and begins to ascribe his survival to a beneficent Providence.
Crusoe lives alone on the island for more than twenty years until his life changes dramatically after he discovers a human footprint in the sand, indicating the undeniable presence of other human beings. These, it turns out, are the native inhabitants of the mainland, who visit the island only occasionally. To Crusoe’s horror, he discovers that these people practice cannibalism. He rescues one of their prisoners, who becomes his servant (or “man”) Friday, named for the day of the week on which he rescued him, and together, their adventures continue.