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The Plague


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This is a fictional account of the bubonic plague set in Oran somewhere in Algeria. It is not as depressing as it sounds and I found it absolutely fascinating. It's said that Camus used his experience of living in Nazi occupied France to write this book.  It details how the plague got started, how it spread, what it was like at it's peak and when it dissipated.

 

Extraordinarily well written and philosophical in content it's something that I'm very glad that I read.

 

Highly recommended.

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8 hours ago, lunababymoonchild said:

This is a fictional account of the bubonic plague set in Oran somewhere in Algeria. It is not as depressing as it sounds and I found it absolutely fascinating. It's said that Camus used his experience of living in Nazi occupied France to write this book.  It details how the plague got started, how it spread, what it was like at it's peak and when it dissipated.

 

Extraordinarily well written and philosophical in content it's something that I'm very glad that I read.

 

Highly recommended.

 

I read his The Stranger some years ago and meant to read The Plague. I will definitely do so now. Such a good writer.

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  • 10 months later...

One day, Dr Rieux begins to notice some dying rats and worries that something bad is coming. Sure enough, the small Algerian coastal town of Oran is soon struggling under the weight of the plague. The narrator (unknown until the final chapter) explains how the town endured this period by exploring the stories of a handful of characters in the town, predominantly focusing on Dr Rieux. Then there's Tarrou, a visiting businessman, Rambert, the journalist, Grand, the government clerk, and Cottard, a man with mental health issues. Then, of course, we have the priest, Paneloux, who has a unique perspective and role given the circumstances.

The book is brilliantly written and the language flows nicely. There are moments that generalise the events of the plague then there are moments that zero in on specific events. For example, there is a dark and unforgiving chapter which focuses on the fate of a young boy with the disease and we watch as Rieux and Paneloux cope with what they are forced to witness. Understandably, this affords Camus an opportunity to inject some of his absurdist philosophy into the book. When told by Tarrou that his victories will never be lasting, Rieux responds: 'Yes, I know that. But it's no reason for giving up the struggle.'

From a covid perspective, there's a lot that's familiar. People wearing masks, people washing hands, people dealing with separation from their loved ones. There are lockdowns (literally the town is locked down) and quarantines. There are moments where they (mistakenly) think it might be over, moments where they speculate on the efficacy of the serum/vaccine. It really was quite fascinating to read all this under our current Covid circumstances. Even the people who refuse to accept the Draconian rules are present here (Rambert himself, at one point, plans to escape the town). And then, of course, there's the conversations they have about what life will be like once the plague is finally over. To which one of the characters replies: 'there will be new films.'

Some things never change.

Of course, it's not possible to read this book without seeing the Nazi analogy. Is Camus writing about a plague or is he writing about fascism? Clearly both. With that interpretation in mind, some of the things he says become more pointed and disturbing. Especially the final line of the book where he describes the 'plague' as dormant....

"... it waits patiently in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, handkerchiefs and old papers, and perhaps the day will come when, for the instruction or misfortune of mankind, the plague will rouse its rats and send them to die in some well-contented city."

A wonderful piece of literature. 7/10

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