Creating Fictional Worlds
There was an intimate relationship between Daniel Defoe’s fiction and his way of thinking about the world. His claim to gentility during the crisis over The Shortest Way with the Dissenters had been rudely brushed aside by the government. His willingness to raise a regiment to fight under Marlborough received not a flicker of response, and while he printed his coat of arms under the portrait that accompanied his Collected Worksof 1703 and Jure Divino some five years later, it must have seemed like a distant vision to the embattled journalist of the early years of the reign of George I. Few journalists had suffered so notoriously from the charge of libel and the vagueness of the laws against it as Defoe, who complained about laws against libel that gave no notion of the limits of free speech. At the end of 1721 and the beginning of 1722, Defoe was embroiled in journalism. In France, a plague was raging around Marseilles that threatened to cross the Channel. He was to report the developments with fascination.
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