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The Plague Paperback – May 7, 1991
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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.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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if you're looking for a doomsday book, don't expect this one to fit your bill of fare. this is more about the struggle to remain human and compassionate in extraordinary circumstances over which they have no control. it's about the government's sometimes draconian and sometimes illogical reaction to the situation and the narrator's very clinical observations of both the big and small pictures, snapshots if you will, of various personalities and the evolution of their thought processes. those thought processes are demonstrated rather than dissected. it is this approach to the story that proves Camus' genius. Sadly, we lost him too soon but happily we have his writings. you will find aspects of yourself in the book and you will definitely and hopefully honestly, relate to every character.
As with a great deal of French Literature, The Plague is heavily influenced by ideology and a not too subtle French Existentialism. The reason this is not helpful is that ideology [where it takes over character and incident] dates a work very quickly.
Readers return to works such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Homeric Epics, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Twain, Melville, Joyce, Rabelais, and Cervantes because there is something terribly human and universal about all of these without being preachy.
Camus seems to be lecturing his readers on most occasions. If you are drawn to his ethical sensibility/ideology then you will enjoy this, but if you spot, sense, holes in the thesis the work is less attractive.
There are better books to read by the author: The Stranger, The Rebel, The Fall come to mind.
This is still a good book, but not as good as the other plague narratives I have mentioned above.
I've given the book 4 stars because it still deserves this, but how much longer this will be the case I cannot say. Daniel Dafoe's Journal of the Plague Year remains the better book and The Plague was heavily influenced by this.
Still, worth a read.
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