Bookmark: An old book resonates in modern times – ABOUT MAG 2020

In times like these, I find myself in literature to remind myself that people haven’t changed much in 300 years or more.

In 1665, the bubonic plague devastated the city of London, alarmingly killing up to 100,000 people out of a population of half a million. Daniel Defoe was only a child that year, but in 1722 he published “A Diary of the Year of the Plague”, a fictionalized account of that terrible time.

An old copy of this book from the Penguin English Library was around the house, so I opened its yellowed pages and started reading. It’s a novel, but it looks like a story, written from the perspective of a businessman who chose to stay in the crowded city while carts rolled through the streets collecting corpses and painted crosses marked the homes of the dying.

Although most of the world has been spared these images, much of what Defoe wrote about London’s Great Plague resonates in the pandemic that has taken over the world today.

The book begins with a discussion of the mortality accounts – the weekly death records that have been followed as religiously as the coronavirus infection and mortality reports today. These statistics were then, as they are now, a sub-account, as Defoe notes, with many of those who died of the plague not even recorded by the authorities.

Then, as now, the plague exposed the stark divide between rich and poor. The wealthy fled to the country with their employees, gaining hostility from rural people who feared they were importing the disease. Everyone had no choice but to stay.

With thousands of people fleeing and others quarantined in their homes, the economy has ceased to operate, placing crowds dependent on charity. Defoe then describes the resulting economic trauma.

“Anyone who is familiar with the multitudes of people who receive their daily bread in this city for their work, be they craftsmen or more workers, I say, that any man should consider what the miserable condition of that city should be, if, suddenly, everyone should be unemployed, that work should cease and wages for work no more. “

Economic disasters seem to go hand in hand with public health catastrophes.

Although seventeenth-century Londoners did not know exactly how people were getting sick, they understood something about disease transmission. “When someone bought a piece of meat at the market, they didn’t take it out of the butcher’s hand, but they took it out of the hooks. On the other hand, the butcher wouldn’t touch the money, but would put it in a pot full of vinegar, which he kept for that end. ”

He describes how the people affected by the pest were infectious before showing any symptoms, “and it is for this reason that it is impossible on a visit to prevent the spread of the pest by maximum human surveillance”.

It would take scientists more than a century to isolate the real cause of the Great Plague: fleas that feed first on infected mice and then on people. Once the plague has spread to the lungs, people could also spread to each other.

For his part, Defoe attributes the plague to a vengeful God, but also to the failure of people to prepare him and to the confusion that prevented “proper steps” from being taken “and that, if posterity finds it convenient, they can take care and warning.

Speaking for posterity, I’m listening now.

James Eli Shiffer is the leader of the Star Tribune city team and author of “The King of Skid Row: John Bacich and the Twilight Years of Minneapolis”.

r n / / Load the jQuery library using simple JavaScript r n (function () { r n var newscript = document.createElement (‘script’); r n newscript.type = ‘text / javascript ‘; r n newscript.async = true; r n newscript.src =’ https: / / code.jquery.com /jquery-3.1.0.min.js’; r n (document.getElementsByTagName (‘head’)[0]|| document.getElementsByTagName (‘body’)[0]) .appendChild (newscript); r nvar newscript2 = document.createElement (‘script’); r n newscript2.type = ‘text / javascript’; r n newscript2.async = true; r n newscript2.src = ‘https: / / cdnjs.cloudflare.com / ajax / libs / js-cookie /2.1.3 /js.cookie.min.js’; r n (document .getElementsByTagName (‘head’)[0]|| document.getElementsByTagName (‘body’)[0]) .appendChild (newscript2); r n}) (); r n / ******** TEST CODE FOR METER SNOWFLOW ANALYSTS ************* ****** / r nvar meter = {}; r n $ (document) .ready (function () { r n / / console.log ( “this loads well “); r n $ (‘.js-optimization-click- goal ‘). click (function () { r n / / console.log (this); r n meter[‘type’] = $ ( “entry[name=’offer’] “). val (); r n if (meter[‘type’] = 131) {meter[‘type’] = “Premium digital access “;} r n else if (meter[‘type’] = 130) {meter[‘type’] = “Sunday + digital impression “;} r n else if (meter[‘type’] = 129) {meter[‘type’] = “Impression in 7 days + Digital “;} r n else if (meter[‘type’] = 128) {meter[‘type’] = “Sunday Impression “;} r n meter[‘date’] = new Date (). toLocaleString (); r n / / console.log (meter[‘type’]); r n / / console.log (meter[‘date’]); r n var json_meter_cookie = JSON.stringify (meter); r n Cookies.set (‘meter_sign_up’, json_meter_cookie); r n r n}); r n}); r n / **************************** **************** ******************************** / r n / / FACEBOOK TRACKING PIXEL # 1 r n! function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s) r n {if (f.fbq) returns; n = f.fbq = function () {n.callMethod? r n n.callMethod.apply (n, arguments): n.queue.push (arguments)}; r n if (! f._fbq) f._fbq = n; n.push = n; n.loaded =! 0; n.version = ‘2.0’; r n n.queue =[]; t = b.createElement (e); t.async =! 0; r n t.src = v; s = b.getElementsByTagName (e)[0]; r n s.parentNode.insertBefore (t, s)} (window, document, ‘script’, r n ‘https: / / connect.facebook.net / en_US /fbevents.js’) ; r n fbq (‘init’, ‘590074241155998’); r n fbq (‘banner’, ‘ViewContent’); r n r n r n {% endblock%} “},” start “:” https: / / users.startribune.com / channel / 1 / environment / 3 / optimized subscription limit / start ” }, {“id”: “subscription limit”, “count”: 12, “action”: “ignore”, “mute”: true, “action_config”: {“template”: “{% extends ” grid “%} r n r n {% block header_text%} You have read your 10 free articles for this 30 day period. Apply now for local coverage that you won’t find anywhere else, special sections and your favorite columnists. StarTribune puts Minnesota and the world at your fingertips. {% endblock%} r n r n {% block last%} r n {{parent ()}} r n {# limits the Krux pixel to https: / / www. squishlist. com / strib / customshop / 328 / #} r n r n r n {% endblock%} “},” start “:” https: / / users.startribune.com / placement / 1 / environment / 3 / limit-signup / start “}, {” id “:” meter-desktop-331 “,” count “: 10,” action “:” ignore “,” mute “: false,” action_config “: false,” start “:” https : / / users.startribune.com / placement / 1 / environment / 3 / meter-desktop-331 / start “}, {” id “:” PDA991499opt “,” count “: 9, “action”: “ignore”, “mute”: true, “action_config”: false, “start”: “https: / / users.startribune.com / placement / 1 / environment / 3 / PDA991499opt / start “}, {” id “:” limit “,” count “: 8,” action “:” inject “,” mute “: false,” action_config “: {” template “:”

r n r n r n r n

r n

r n

r n r n

r n t

r n SUBSCRIBE r n Already a subscriber? log in. r n

r n

All Star Tribune readers without a Digital Access subscription receive a limited number of free articles every 30 days. When the article limit is reached, readers are requested to purchase a subscription, including Digital Access, to continue reading. Digital Access is included in all multi-day paper home delivery subscriptions, on Sunday + Digital and Premium Digital Access subscriptions. After the 1-month introductory period of Premium Digital Access, you will be charged a fee of $ 14.99 per month. You can view all subscription options or sign in to an existing subscription on here r n

r n r n

r n

r n

r n

r n

r n “},” start “:” https: / / users.startribune.com / placement / 1 / environment / 3 / limit / start “}, {” id “:” nag “,” count “: 7,” action “:” lightbox “,” mute “: true,” action_config “: {” height “: null,” width “:” 630px “,” redirect_on_close “: null,” model “:” {% extends “shell “%} r n r n {% blocks substyles%}} r n

r n {% endblock%} r n r n {% block page%} r n {# r n r n {{limit – count – 1}} r n r n {{form.flow_form_open ({nextAction: ‘firstSlide’}, null, null, ‘_top’)}} r n {{form.btn (‘Save Now’)}} r n {{form.flow_form_close ()}} r n r n

r n r n r n u2022 r n r n r n r n #} r n

r n

r n

You have {{limit – count – 1}} items left

r n

r n r n u00a0 u00a0 u2022 u00a0 u00a0 r n r n

r n

r n

r n

r n Save More Today r n

Over 70% discount!

r n

r n

r n

r n

99 u00a2 in the first 4 weeks

r n {{form.flow_form_open ({nextAction: ‘firstSlide’}, null, null, ‘_top’)}} r n {{form.button (‘Save now’, ‘btn nag-btn’) }} r n {{form.flow_form_close ()}} r n

r n

r n {% endblock%} r n r n {% last block%} r n {{parent ()}} r n r n {% endblock%} “}, “start”: “https: / / users.startribune.com / placement / 1 / environment / 3 / nag / start”}, {“id”: “x”, “count”: 4, “action”: “ignore”, “mute”: true, “action_config”: false, “start”: “https: / / users.startribune.com / placement / 1 / environment / 3 / x / start “}, {” id “:” multi-start “,” count “: 3,” action “:” fly_in “,” mute “: true,” action_config “: {” location “:” bottom_left “,” slide_direction “:” bottom “,” group_id “: null,” display_delay “:” 0 “,” collapse_delay “:” 10 “,” template “:”

r n

r n

r n

r n u00d7 r n

r n

r n

Only

r n

$ 3.79 99 u00a2 per week

r n Save now r n

r n

r n

“},” start “:” https: / / users.startribune.com / placement / 1 / environment / 3 / multi-start / start “}]};

Paula Fonseca