Daily Archives: 30 November 2006

Black Death Zerstörungsroman on a Plaque, 1349

In Derbyshire …, the most eloquent set of mortality statistics are in a small parish church where a plaque commemorates the Wakebridge family’s brush with annihilation in the summer of 1349.

  • 18 May, Nicholas, brother of William
  • 16 July, Robert, brother of William
  • 5 August, Peter, father of William and Joan, sister of William
  • 10 August, Joan, wife of William and Margaret, sister of William

William himself survived the pestilence.

SOURCE: The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time, by John Kelly (Harper Perennial, 2006), p. 226

UPDATE: I concocted the pseudo-German term Zerstörungsroman ‘destruction-novel’ as the opposite of Bildungsroman, a German term applied to novels about personal growth, education, and development. I was trying to capture the opposition between ‘coming of age’ and ‘falling apart’ (or the ‘age of destruction’).

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