Saturday, July 5, 2008

Journal of the Plague Years - Daniel Defoe


That's a plague mask, from long ago - you were supposed to wear it if you were a doctor. I guess they figured the plague couldn't find it's way down that gynormous nose. Need I even mention the resemblance to Spy vs. Spy.

See, the thing about this book is I didn't like, because it was boring. I mean, it wasn't that the subject matter was boring, but... well... it was like reading a very old research paper. Right down to the part where in research papers the kid often tries the old 'say the same thing in five idfferent ways' trick. It's a lot like that. Daniel Defoe, you know. Great writer and all that. Only, not for research papers.

At the same time, I'm a little ashamed to not like it, because I really can imagine a story about the plague, that wasn't some other story just set in the plague, being engrossing. Only, it would be sort of... I dunno. Tasteless. Splatter-lit. You know. You could write a great 'its a horror story only it's real!' on the plague. And it's a little sad to realize that part of you would LOVE that. And then you just sort of feel bad, like, these were real people dying, and I just get bored hearing about it.

On the bright side, I did learn a great deal, and now that I'm THROUGH the book, I feel like I actually know what hte plague was like, rather than what its like in a horror movie. Which is cool. Only, nobody in the book wore this wicked mask, and that's a little dissapointing. Not that I liked it in Beetlejuice, it just looked cheesy, but I have the feeling that there is potential in that pointy nose...

11 comments:

Amanda said...

Spy Vs. Spy - that's the first thing I thought. I'm glad you got through this one.

Byron said...

Me too, I thought I would leave such a clever comment, only to see it in the review.

Amanda said...

Byron! That's exactly what I did. Jason, you beat us both to the punchline!

Jen said...

That mask is creepy. I think if I had the plague I would be terrified to see that thing coming at me.

Jason Gignac said...

Yeah, then the guy comes up to you, and pours caustic acids on the sores around your groin. Fear, not such a bad thing in this situation.

Jen said...

Yeah, the plague, not so fun any way you look at it. So tell me, is the "red rosies, red rosies" story true?

Jason Gignac said...

I always thought so, but apparently it's the subject of some debate. See Wikipedia, here:

But folklore scholars regard the theory as baseless for several reasons:

1. the late appearance of the explanation means that it has no tradition, only the value of its content;[15]
2. the facts described do not fit especially well at least with the Great Plague;[17][20]
3. the great variety of forms makes it unlikely that the modern form is the most ancient one, and the words on which the interpretation are based are not found in many of the earliest records of the rhyme (see above);[18][21]
4. European and 19th century versions of the rhyme suggest that this 'fall' was not a literal falling down, but a curtsy or other form of bending movement that was common in other dramatic singing games.[22]
5. Neither a rosy rash or sneezing were symptoms of the plague (or any plague variation)

Jen said...

Actually I mean "Ring around the rosies". It's been so long, I think I was merging it with "Red rover" in my mind.

Amanda said...

haha, I was about to ask if red rosies was the same thing as ring around the rosies ;)

Anonymous said...

this mask was a very primitive version of a gasmask. it's not that they thought the germs couldn't travel up it, but that the herbs which were put in the bottom of the beak would purify the air before the wearer breathed it in.
It was long believed that the plague was caused by befouled air, or evil gasses in the air. Thus they figured that if they could use strong herbs to purify the air, they might live.

Needless to say the Yersinia Pestis bacteria was not killed by the herbs and plague doctors died as fast if not faster than everyone else. often faster because they, like vicars and pastors and such, went looking for those who were sick and thus got infected quiker than most.

Ricky said...

The doctors usually filled the mask with scented flower petals or inscents to hide the smell of bodies in medieval Europe and they aslo thought it scared the spirits of the plague away.