Metaphors of Infectious Disease in Eighteenth-Century Literature: Complex Comparatives in Daniel Defoe’s _A Journal of the Plague Year_ (1722)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This essay argues that eighteenth-century literary depictions of infectious disease were never uniformly negative-- even when the disease was something as terrifying and dangerous as the Bubonic plague. Surveying the period's most commonplace disease metaphors-- disease as 'the enemy'; disease as foreign invader, immigrant, or import; disease as commodity, currency, or capital; and disease as visitor or tourist-- this essay demonstrates that eighteenth-century writers were alert to the connections between infection and charity or benevolence, as well as between infection and danger, corruption, and hostility.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiterature and Medicine
Subtitle of host publicationThe Eighteenth Century
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2021

Publication series

NameLiterature and Medicine
PublisherCambridge University Press