Chapter

[Introduction] The View from the Mountain

Ernest B. Gilman

in Plague Writing in Early Modern England

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780226294094
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226294117 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226294117.003.0001
[Introduction] The View from the Mountain

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Although details have come to light in the research of medical historians, the fact of the plague in its early modern recurrences is amply documented in the historical record, including in the account of the number of its victims as recorded in the English bills of mortality. As Hayden White has taught a generation of his (sometimes reluctant) colleagues, historians seek to accommodate the facts to the orderly structures of narrative. Now, under a revised historical paradigm—one that brings infectious disease into the realm of the ordinary—epidemics count as historical forces, drawn into the matrix of explanation from which they were previously excluded except in histories of medicine as such. Machiavelli's view of history presages this development insofar as his narrative is open to the significant operations of fortune. This book aims to bring to life the many and complex ways Londoners made sense of such unspeakable devastation.

Chapter.  10468 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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