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The Plague Paperback – May 7, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0679720218 ISBN-10: 0679720219

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The Plague + The Stranger + The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (May 7, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679720219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679720218
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (266 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Nobel prize-winning Albert Camus, who died in 1960, could not have known how grimly current his existentialist novel of epidemic and death would remain. Set in Algeria, in northern Africa, The Plague is a powerful study of human life and its meaning in the face of a deadly virus that sweeps dispassionately through the city, taking a vast percentage of the population with it.

Review

The message is not the highest form of creative art, but it may be of such importance for our time that to dismiss it in the name of artistic criticism would be to blaspheme against the human spirit. -- The New York Times Book Review, Stephen Spender --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book isn't overly engaging, it is somewhat shocking at times, and its prose is probably too dry.
M. B. Alcat
It is in this much more developed context that Camus' most remarkable notions of humanity, life, and existence can be fleshed out and communicated more effectively.
Daniel Jolley
This novel, written by the great existentialist Albert Camus, is one of the greatest novels that I have ever read.
Robert W. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

270 of 298 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Plague is easily one of the best ten novels ever written, far surpassing even the erstwhile classic The Stranger. Whereas we examine an uncommonly cold-hearted man in a normal world in the pages of The Stranger, in this novel it is a harsh outside world which closes in on a group of fascinating characters. It is in this much more developed context that Camus' most remarkable notions of humanity, life, and existence can be fleshed out and communicated more effectively. The lessons of good, normal lives in a world gone mad are much more instructive and meaningful than the observations in The Stranger of a man gone mad in a normal world.
A word to the wise: when large numbers of rats come out of the woodwork and commence dying nasty, bloody deaths in the streets and houses, something is definitely wrong. In the port city of Oran, the population ignores the signs of danger and only grudgingly admits that an epidemic, a form of the bubonic plague to be exact, has taken root in their city. The protagonist, Dr. Rieux, is a doctor who finally helps convince the authorities to take extreme measures in the interest of public safety and to eventually quarantine the entire town. Over the course of the novel, we get to observe the manner in which Dr. Rieux, his companions, and prominent men of the community react to the worsening plague and its social consequences. Dr. Rieux has just sent his unhealthy wife off to a sanitarium before the plague breaks out, and he must suffer her absence alongside the stresses of working 20+ hours a day trying to save people's lives while accomplishing little more than watching them die horrible deaths. Dr.
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80 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Pen Name? VINE VOICE on April 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
The plague is an allegory, for fascism and totalitarianism. The novel deals largely with individuals' varying reactions to the plague as it emerges and settles in on the city of Oran. Only those who act or are important in the development of the scene are named, and though many of the characters perceive reality differently, we are able to sympathize with where they are coming from. The novel is about overcoming indifference and performing good acts that we are all capable of. Camus makes it clear that there are no heroes in the novel, only people who recognize their responsibility and embrace life. Even though the plague is ultimately "defeated," there is no typical happy ending, for the plague bacillus never dies. This novel is still entirely relevant to our world today. The central point of Camus' writing is "the absurd." The absurd is characterized by the confrontation of "rational man and the indifferent universe." Camus dismisses ideas such as transcendence, or a leap of faith, there is no existential commitment. He looks to embrace the absurd, to keep it alive. Camus is very much a moralist and a pacifist; he deplored one-sided views of any political situation, and broke off relationships with other prominent writers of his time such as Sartre, whose ties to Communism and justification of violence Camus abhorred. He did not wish to take sides in the French-Algerian war. Camus did not seem to identify with a particular people, a belief system or any form of certainty, but viewed man as being in constant revolt against the powers that tried to enslave him, keeping him from living. Camus would rather embrace the absurdity of life than a frail system.Read more ›
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Plague is about love, exile, and suffering as illuminated by living around death. What is the meaning of life? For many, that question is an abstraction except in the context of being aware of losing some of the joys of life, or life itself. In The Plague, Camus creates a timeless tale of humans caught in the jaws of implacable death, in this case a huge outbreak of bubonic plague in Oran, Algeria on the north African coast. With the possibility of dying so close, each character comes to see his or her life differently. In a sense, we each get a glimpse of what we, too, may think about life in the last hours and days before our own deaths. The Plague will leave you with a sense of death as real rather than as an abstraction. Then by reflecting in the mirror of that death, you can see life more clearly.
For example, what role would you take if bubonic plague were to be unleashed in your community? Would you flee? Would you help relieve the suffering? Would you become a profiteer? Would you help maintain order? Would you withdraw or seek out others? These are all important questions for helping you understand yourself that this powerful novel will raise for you.
The book is described as objectively as possible by a narrator, who is one of the key figures in the drama. That literary device allows each of us to insert ourselves into the situation.
Let me explain the main themes. Love is expressed in many ways. There is the love of men and women for each other. Dr. Rieux's wife is ill, and has just left for treatment at a sanitarium. Rambert, a journalist on temporary assignment, is separated from his live-in girl friend in Paris. Dr. Rieux's mother comes to stay with him during his mother's absence, so there is also love of parent and child.
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