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Defoe deftly entangles the reader in a saga of an entire citys mortal combat with an enemy more powerful and inscrutable than any previously known. Written about the great London plague of 1665, the novel was in direct response to a fresh outbreak of the infection in Marseilles in 1720. While Robinson Crusoe gave rise to a host of desert island tales, A Journal of the Plague Year spawned decades of survival stories and the entire genre of historical fiction.