A Journal of the Plague Year

A Journal of the Plague Year : The Diary of the Barcelona Tanner, Miquel Parets, 1651

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Rumors that plague had entered Barcelona's poorest quarter started circulating shortly after the New Year of 1651, but local officials hesitated to impose a full quarantine on the city. Within months the number of sick in the pesthouse had swelled to 4,000, and thousands more had fled the city. By the time the plague abated in September, at least 15,000 Barcelonans had died. This book is a translation of the 1651 journal of Miquel Parets, a Barcelona tanner who set out, like the protagonist of Camus' The Plague, "to state quite simply what we learn in a time of pestilence." His journal is rich with the details of life during the epidemic, including accounts of prisoners who escaped from jail by claiming they had the disease; of priests hearing confessions with a torch held between them and the sick to avoid contagion; and of people desperately seeking wetnurses for children after their mothers had died. Unlike other accounts, which depict local authorities as the bulwark of enlightened authority amid a sea of popular superstition, Parets accuses the local elite of negligence, selfishness, and abuse of authority during the contagion. His journal is notable both for its non-elite perspective and for its emotional quality--especially in the moving passage wherein the tanner recounts the death of his wife and three of their children. Amelang introduces the journal, illustrating the unique place of the work in the plague literature, and supplies notes and commentaries that clarify the historical context for the contemporary reader. Also included is a helpful appendix of excerpts from other popular plague texts.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 184 pages
  • 142.24 x 213.36 x 22.86mm | 385.55g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 3 maps
  • 0195064550
  • 9780195064551

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