The Plague by Albert Camus
The Plague by Albert Camus is a modern classic and, after reading it, I can easily understand why. It is a beautifully written book, not very long either. The location for the book is Oran, a coastal town in North Africa, where Camus lived for a while. While is known as a French writer, Camus was born in Algeria, so I will include him in my Read the World challenge.
The title of the book is The Plague, but the subject is, in fact, Nazi occupation of France and the Vichy government. It can be read, now, after COVID, in another way too, looking at how the people and communities deal with a real plaque.
Either way, it is a must read in my view. It has some unpleasant parts, but some memorable parts too, and the writing style is just beautiful, well worth reading. I might read other works by Camus in the future, as he is such a wonderful writer.
I don’t think I need to add more, the book will surely give the reader plenty to think about.
The Plague by Albert Camus
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My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Penguin Modern Classics
Year it was published: 2001 (first published in 1947)
About the author: Albert Camus was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. He was born in 1913 in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work. Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in philosophy, he came to France at the age of twenty-five. The man and the times met: Camus joined the resistance movement during the occupation and after the liberation was a columnist for the newspaper Combat. But his journalistic activities had been chiefly a response to the demands of the time; in 1947 Camus retired from political journalism and, besides writing his fiction and essays, was very active in the theatre as producer and playwright. He also adapted plays too. His love for the theatre may be traced back to his membership in L’Equipe, an Algerian theatre group, whose “collective creation” Révolte dans les Asturies (1934) was banned for political reasons.
The essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe, 1942, expounds Camus’s notion of the absurd and of its acceptance with “the total absence of hope, which has nothing to do with despair, a continual refusal, which must not be confused with renouncement – and a conscious dissatisfaction”. Meursault, central character of L’Étranger, 1942, illustrates much of this essay: man as the nauseated victim of the absurd orthodoxy of habit, later – when the young killer faces execution – tempted by despair, hope, and salvation. Dr. Rieux of La Peste, 1947, who tirelessly attends the plague-stricken citizens of Oran, enacts the revolt against a world of the absurd and of injustice, and confirms Camus’s words: “We refuse to despair of mankind. Without having the unreasonable ambition to save men, we still want to serve them”. Other well-known works of Camus are La Chute, 1956, and L’Exil et le royaume, 1957. His austere search for moral order found its aesthetic correlative in the classicism of his art. He was a stylist of great purity and intense concentration and rationality.
Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959. He died in 1960, aged 46.
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