A Journal of the Plague Year

Debate over the book's classification as a novel

Whether the Journal can properly be regarded as a novel has been disputed.[1] It was initially read as a work of non-fiction[2] but by the 1780s the work's fictional status was accepted. Debate continued as to whether Defoe could be regarded as the work's author rather than merely its editor.[3] One modern literary critic has asserted that 'the invented detail is... small and inessential', while Watson Nicholson – writing in 1919 – argued that the work can be regarded as 'authentic history'.[4] Other literary critics have argued that the work can indeed be regarded as a work of imaginative fiction, and thus can justifiably be described as a 'historical novel'.[5]

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