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The Plague

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The Plague is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947.

It tells the story from the point of view of a narrator of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran. The narrator remains unknown until the start of the last chapter, chapter 5 of part 5. The novel presents a snapshot of life in Oran as seen through the author's distinctive absurdist point of view.

The book tells a gripping tale of human unrelieved horror, of survival and resilience, and of the ways in which humankind confronts death, The Plague is at once a masterfully crafted novel, eloquently understated and epic in scope, and a parable of ageless moral resonance, profoundly relevant to our times. In Oran, a coastal town in North Africa, the plague begins as a series of portents, unheeded by the people. It gradually becomes an omnipresent reality, obliterating all traces of the past and driving its victims to almost unearthly extremes of suffering, madness, and compassion.

The Plague is considered an existentialist classic despite Camus' objection to the label. The novel stresses the powerlessness of the individual characters to affect their destinies. The narrative tone is similar to Kafka's, especially in The Trial, whose individual sentences potentially have multiple meanings; the material often pointedly resonating as stark allegory of phenomenal consciousness and the human condition.

308 pages, Paperback

First published June 10, 1947

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About the author

Albert Camus

836 books27k followers
Works, such as the novels The Stranger (1942) and The Plague (1947), of Algerian-born French writer and philosopher Albert Camus concern the absurdity of the human condition; he won the Nobel Prize of 1957 for literature.

Origin and his experiences of this representative of non-metropolitan literature in the 1930s dominated influences in his thought and work.

He also adapted plays of Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Lope de Vega, Dino Buzzati, and Requiem for a Nun of William Faulkner. One may trace his enjoyment of the theater back to his membership in l'Equipe, an Algerian group, whose "collective creation" Révolte dans les Asturies (1934) was banned for political reasons.

Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest, he came at the age of 25 years in 1938; only chance prevented him from pursuing a university career in that field. The man and the times met: Camus joined the resistance movement during the occupation and after the liberation served as a columnist for the newspaper Combat.

The essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), 1942, expounds notion of acceptance of the absurd of Camus 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 (The Stranger), 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.

Besides his fiction and essays, Camus very actively produced plays in the theater (e.g., Caligula, 1944).

The time demanded his response, chiefly in his activities, but in 1947, Camus retired from political journalism.

Doctor Rieux of La Peste (The Plague), 1947, who tirelessly attends the plague-stricken citizens of Oran, enacts the revolt against a world of the absurd and of injustice, and confirms words: "We refuse to despair of mankind. Without having the unreasonable ambition to save men, we still want to serve them."

People also well know La Chute (The Fall), work of Camus in 1956.

Camus authored L'Exil et le royaume (Exile and the Kingdom) in 1957. His austere search for moral order found its aesthetic correlative in the classicism of his art. He styled of great purity, intense concentration, and rationality.

Camus died at the age of 46 years in a car accident near Sens in le Grand Fossard in the small town of Villeblevin.

Chinese 阿尔贝·加缪

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 13,368 reviews
March 20, 2020
Read The Plague free here. Coronovirus is the name of the 21stC plague. If you don't know what existentialism is, reading this and relating to the world we have today and how it's looking for the next week, month and perhaps even longer, will show you. Coronavirus has no favourites, everyone's in line to catch it, it's just a wrong-place-at-the-right-time disease. Some will die, and there won't be any huge funerals and memorial services either. Eventually there may be mass funerals, unattended as in the book. Let's hope it doesn't get to that.

This was as much an existentialist tract as it was a book about the descent of a town into plague; the gradient of the decline increasing exponentially until they reach the pit. There it is death and smoke and groans and every bit the imagined hell of those with a religious consciousness.

But the plague has no relationship to religion. The innocent die as much as the guilty. Shady people are sly by night, criminals escape justice, the great and the good sleep peacefully in their beds but the plague is the great equalizer: they all die. This is an atheist world where nothing has rhyme or reason and blaming it on fate or an angry god or questioning why the deities have ignored the supplicants increasing praises, appeals and desperate petitions is futile. Even they see it is pointless and in the end the comforting rituals of death and consignment of the remains have mostly been abandoned. The plague strikes almost all and those whom it leaves, aren't special in any way.

Pacing is not something I tend to notice in a novel, but I did in this one, it is outstanding. The pacing matches the descent into hell and the recovery into sunlight in a brisk sea air absolutely perfectly. At the end, after all the pain and darkness I felt relieved and refreshed, an unusual feeling for the end of a book.

10 stars, golden ones.

revised Sept 2019
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
February 21, 2019
Albert Camus’ The Plague is a laugh RIOT!

Just kidding, it is about the bubonic plague, really not very funny at all.

However, it is a modern masterpiece of allegory, symbolism and imagery. The surface story is about plague in the early 1940s visiting the Algerian coastal city of Oran. While Camus tells a complete tale of disease, fear, despair, compassion and selfless heroism; the story of lasting significance is told between the lines with insightful observations and thought provoking dissertations on philosophy and theology.

Camus uses the epidemic to explore relationships, community and existence. Critics have seen The Plague as an allegory on Germany’s occupation of France, but I think it can also be read to represent man’s propensity towards chaos and evil, while ultimately remaining good. Scholars will point out that Camus is primarily identified as an atheist, but his later writings revealed at least a sympathetic position towards religion.

While some of the poetry of his French is lost in translation, his technique comes across as sparse but eclectic and his characterization and imagery evokes comparisons of such far ranging stylists as Hemingway and DH Lawrence. And Camus’ individuality shines through his excellent prose. Here is not an anodyne essayist but rather a vibrant athlete and vocal member of the French resistance; Camus is a masterful but reluctant artist. Camus the fighter is revealed in page after page. That may be the central message conveyed: that life is worth living and worth fighting for, no matter the likelihood of victory or the seemingly overwhelming natural forces assailing us, or even the result of the fight.

The enduring residents of Oran do not so much fight and prevail as they simply survive, but Camus emphasizes that the act itself of fighting, the performance of resisting the devastating force of nature makes them stronger, makes them worthy of survival regardless of whether or not they do survive.

Profile Image for Ben.
74 reviews943 followers
May 12, 2020
Ah, death; it's always there, isn't it? It is a terrible fate, doomed upon us all, that could take place at any time, in millions of different ways. The Jews who witnessed the holocaust are aware of this. The people of Haiti know this. The mother who lost her only child in a car accident is aware of this. Most individuals (and groups of individuals) spend their days fighting the fact of death, lying to themselves, using clever ways to avoid its ever-present reality. Looking death in its cold, indiscriminating eye, is perhaps the most difficult thing one can do. But the result from doing so -- when taken with time -- is a clear-eyed vision of the world we live in; the result of which is an inner-strength of which few know. But for those that have candidly looked into the eye of death -- for those that keep its hard reality within their awareness -- there is a wisdom and depth that emanates.

The people of Camus' Oran -- formerly thoughtless, happy citizens that were, like many of us now, going about their merry ways not knowing how lucky they truly were -- become stricken by the plague. It is a rotten disease -- full of physical suffering, spreading rapidly, unceasingly -- that causes the town's citizens to be quarantined within the town. No getting out. There they must go on, trying to cope and survive -- some while kept away from their loved ones who are outside Oran's walls -- all, while surrounded by the constant death of their peers.

The Plague is much about death, but it’s also about how we choose to live. Do we live like the people of Oran, going through each day without truly thinking, taking things for granted, going through the motions in an ignorant, opiated stupor? Or do we look death -- and by extension, life -- in the eye, taking nothing for granted, noticing and appreciating our complexities and gifts, endeavoring for truth, and striving to be good people? No matter how painful and difficult, do we face reality with courage? Do we overcome? Are we striving to be true heroes to others and to ourselves?

There are fates worse than death. Like living life half-heartedly, without truth, without passion. Without conviction. Without sacrifice. And without love.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.7k followers
August 6, 2021
(Book 559 from 1001 books) - La Peste = The Plague, Albert Camus

The Plague is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947, that tells the story of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran.

It asks a number of questions relating to the nature of destiny and the human condition. The characters in the book, ranging from doctors to vacationers to fugitives, all help to show the effects the plague has on a populace.

The Plague is considered an existentialist classic despite Camus' objection to the label.

The narrative tone is similar to Kafka's, especially in The Trial whose individual sentences potentially have multiple meanings, the material often pointedly resonating as stark allegory of phenomenal consciousness and the human condition.

طاعون - آلبر کامو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1974میلادی

عنوان: طاعون؛ نویسنده: آلبر کامو؛ مترجم: علی صدوقی؛ تهران، خرد، 1340، در 140ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسه سده 20م

عنوان: طاعون؛ نویسنده: آلبر کامو؛ مترجم: رضا سیدحسینیی؛ تهران، نیل، 1345، در 300ص؛ چاپ دوم 1348؛ چاپ سوم تهران، بامداد، 1360، در 436ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، غزالی، 1370؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، نیلوفر، 1375، در 341ص، شابک 9644481400؛ چاپ یازدهم 1388، شابک 9789644481413؛ چاپ سیزدهم 1392؛

عنوان: طاعون؛ نویسنده: آلبر کامو؛ مترجم: اقدس یغمائی؛ تهران، ؟، ؟، در 418ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، جامی، 1389، در 327ص، شابک 9789642575800؛

عنوان: طاعون؛ نویسنده: آلبر کامو؛ مترجم: عنایت الله شکیباپور؛ تهران، ؟، ؟، در 152ص؛

عنوان: طاعون؛ نویسنده: آلبر کامو؛ مترجم: پرویز شهدی؛ تهران، مجید، 1388، در 343ص؛ شابک 978964531125؛ چاپ سوم 1393؛

عنوان: طاعون؛ نویسنده: آلبر کامو؛ مترجم: حسین دهخدا؛ تهران، روزگار، 1389، در 216ص؛ شابک 9789643742775؛

عنوان: طاعون؛ نویسنده: آلبر کامو؛ مترجم: حسین کاظمی یزدی؛ تهران، نیکا، 1393، در 287ص؛ شابک: 9786005906998؛

داستان رمان در شهری از «الجزایر»، به نام «اُران» یا «وهران» رخ می‌دهد؛ و از زبان راوی، که بعدها خود را «دکتر ریو» معرفی می‌کند، بازگو می‌شود؛ کتاب با روشنگریهایی در باره ی مردمان، و تصویر شهر آغاز، و سپس با افزایش تعداد موش‌ها در شهر، و اشاره به مرگ آن‌ها ادامه می‌یابد؛ آقای «میشل»، سرایدار منزل «دکتر ریو»، بر اثر بیماری‌ ای، با بروز تاول‌ها، و خیارک‌ها می‌میرد، و مرگ چند تن دیگر، با همان علائم، باعث می‌شود «دکتر ریو»، علت مرگ را بیماری احتمال��ً مسری بدانند، و کمی بعد «دکتر کاستل»، این بیماری را «طاعون» تشخیص می‌دهند؛ با سستی مسئولین، پس از مدتی، با شیوع «طاعون»، شهر «قرنطینه» اعلام می‌شود

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 13/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 14/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
973 reviews17.6k followers
March 11, 2023
The plague is a literal epidemic of the modern Bubonic Plague that sweeps through a town in Algeria.

And it is also figurative and symbolic - the African town, the colonial remnant of Oran, is “sealed off” as a result (as political powers seal us off nowadays, from obtrusive and disturbing Truth?) in a collective slumber of despair.

Sound familiar?

But guess what... within its sealed demesne, good men are doing active and physically-engaged Good Things within the vibrant frame of a new kind of postmodernist Faith - as Paul Tillich said, echoing Karl Barth - in a God beyond the worn-out bourgeois god.

They also have Faith in their own Elbow Grease, to tirelessly though humanly combat the insidious Evil of the Bubonic Threat.

Yes, the postwar years saw the Genesis of a plague-like, veiled, formless despair that still chills our thin twenty-first century blood, and Here it has been manfully faced and contained by A Few Good Men such as these!

They are not many, but they have boldly made the decision to Live and Work - Bodily and Humanly Incarnated in a Brutally Absurd World.

And we can do that for ourselves.


And avoid being bodiless, bloodless internet junkies of no apparent tangible good.

The forces of law, as in Camus’ symbolic postwar Algeria, try to stifle the truth with subtle thoughts of ingrained fearful and useless conditioning.

But brave men REFUSE not to act, even under the Paralysis of our modern day Plague... “ours is ONLY (and always) the Trying.”

A stark, gainless grappling with an Angel - for even Jacob was disabled for life by such combat...

But kept on fighting.


Unlike so many of us others today, who have just Given Up.

But we, even when innocent children are senselessly dying in the plague’s pointless grip, though we reject the modern ersatz gods, we don’t give up, as Oran’s tireless doctor says.

For we are informed in our souls, nerve endings and stretched sinews by a vision that refuses to die:

The vision of that God beyond god that Refuses to Quit -

And refuses to just stand by, watching and helpless...

As His Angel disjoints us.
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
March 17, 2020
If you lived in an ordinary community quite unexpectedly facing an existential stress test, what would you do?

How would you deal with the situation, and which character traits of yours would all of a sudden come to the surface? How would you treat your friends, neighbours and fellow citizens? What would you do to change the situation?

These questions have been haunting me ever since I first read “La Peste” in school, over two decades ago. I have reread it since then, with the same fascination, and with growing compassion and understanding for the less heroic characters and their fears and petty actions. To me, it is a masterpiece, one of the great examples of timeless world literature. As a student, even though I was worrying just as much about exam questions, French vocabulary and grammar difficulties as about the message, I felt that I finally grasped the totalitarian systems of the 20th century, and their strange morbid attraction despite (or because of) their absolute negativity. I asked myself to what extent I would have remained human facing the terror of the rats and their invisible, yet deadly load.

One thing, though, remained completely unthinkable to me as a young adolescent, despite the horror of the reading experience, and the sincere sympathy for the generations of Europeans that had experienced societies worse than plague-ridden. I thought it COULD NOT happen again. Not here, not in Western civilisation, not with our KNOWLEDGE! Being an adolescent in Germany in the mid-1990s, I was convinced that walls were breaking down, that democracy was on the rise, that human rights and welfare were secure goods, and that the world was beyond the plague of totalitarian, all-consuming ideas spreading like wildfire - like a plague befalling a whole community.

“C’est impossible, tout le monde sait qu’elle a disparu de l’Occident.”

In a way, I was in the situation of doctor Rieux at the very beginning of the story, convinced that the plague was completely gone. But Rieux, narrator and participant in the story, documenting his own private worries along with the catastrophe of the spreading plague, has to choose between sticking to his ideas or to accept the evidence he witnesses. Chronicling the development of his community in crisis, as well as actively working to help those stricken with the plague, he slowly but steadily grows as a human being and realises that nothing is actually ever GONE!

Even in the end, when people are celebrating their survival of the epidemic, in drunken happiness forgetting all their losses, their suffering, their fears and pain, he stays vigilant. For he has learned something beyond the lesson of the immediate crisis:

“Écoutant, en effet, les cris d’allégresse qui montaient de la ville, Rieux se souvenait que cette allégresse était toujours menacée. Car il savait ce que cette foule en joie ignorait, et qu’on peut lire dans les livres, que le bacille de la peste ne meurt ni ne disparaît jamais, qu’il peut rester pendant des dizaines d’années endormi dans les meubles et le linge, qu’il attend patiemment dans les chambres, les caves, les malles, les mouchoirs et les paperasses, et que, peut-être, le jour viendrait où, pour le malheur et l’enseignement des hommes, la peste réveillerait ses rats et les enverrait mourir dans une cité heureuse.”

What would you do if you saw those rats? Who would you choose to be? It is time to dig out the masterpieces of existential questions again, I think. Knowledge of the different facets of human nature under stress can never be overestimated as a means to choose wisely, should your town be stricken unexpectedly by a plague. I wish I knew for sure I would make a decent appearance in Camus’ scenario.

But fear is powerful!
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
860 reviews5,923 followers
March 11, 2023
The hardest part of a review is the first sentence. We’ve got that now so we can keep going I guess, but I found something endearing in the way I’ve struggled to being this review of The Plague by Albert Camus where in it’s story there is a character who spends the duration trying to perfect the first sentence of his novel. He wants a sentence that will have editors crying ‘hats off, gentleman’ and in his pursuit of the perfect sentence he finds himself beginning again and again in perpetuity. Those familiar with Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus will recognize his penchant for the absurdity for endlessly starting over, something the journalist Rambert observes about life under the titular plague in the novel: ‘it consists of starting over.’ And so goes the Sisyphian cycle of each day the same as the last in the Algerian city of Oran while quarantined with rampant plague, as the collective actions of key people attempt to fight against the surmounting death totals that strike and kill individuals seeming at random to the point where all feels absurd and hope is what you make it. Originally published in 1947, The Plague is widely regarded as an allegorical look at the Nazi occupation of Paris where Camus worked for the underground resistance as a journalist, though to read it now in a post-2020 world full of COVID is a starling experience that hits close to home. But there is no better time to read it than now in it’s recently retranslated form, brilliantly accomplished by Laura Marris, and feel Camus’ words resonate all the louder through an unsettling familiarity. A philosophical perspective (Camus refused the label of existentialist) on the human condition in the face of oppressive evil and a rallying call for collective resistance, this eerily prescient novel makes for an oddly comforting and darkly infectious read.

This book has lasting power not only for the subject matter but the ways Camus approaches them. There are an excellent cast of characters: the overburdened Dr. Rieux; the mysterious Jean Tarrou; Grand, the government clerk endlessly working death toll figures and his first sentence; the journalist Rambert and more. Their actions fighting the plague together make for a book that has been hotly discussed for decades with so much to consider like the ideas behind stylistic choices, the allegorical implications, the philosophical questions on death, god, and even Camus’ own life in relation. It is fascinating to run our current issues through the lens of Camus’ tale, and as Alice Yaeger Kaplan writes in States of Plague: Reading Albert Camus in a Pandemic, a book co-written with rotating essays from her and translator Laura Marris, ‘Camus allegorized war as plague, but plague, too, can be deployed as a political allegory.’ Examining the interplay of the two has made The Plague a fascinating read that is as striking today as ever before.

Stagnation was the order of the day, several hundred-thousand people kept on stagnating through never-ending weeks.

There are moments reading The Plague where, had I gone in with no knowledge of the book, author or the year it was written, it would have read like a parody of the year 2020. There are so many little tidbits that made me laugh, roll my eyes, or cringe at the sheer familiarity of it. Talks of underlying conditions, a hoax to hurt business, faith over fear, the first to be caught breaking restrictions being an official who wrote them, empty streets, protests, the list goes on. I spent 2020 in Michigan where we didn’t have much of a ‘lockdown,’ especially not compared to Oran in this novel, but the passages of empty streets, empty skies, and endless longing resonated hard. ‘There is nothing less spectacular than a scourge,’ Camus writes, ‘the terrible days of plague didn’t appear as tall flames, sumptuous and cruel, but rather as an endless stagnation.’ While I personally had been very busy and productive during that time, it captures a feeling heard all over the world. In some ways reading The Plague today makes one feel nothing ever changes, human behavior in times of crisis is rather predictable, and while Camus’ allegory reads as hauntingly familiar, it never makes you despair and his hope for humanity burns bright in the dark.

Following his work The Stranger, which was centered on the ‘I’, here we have the voice of ‘we’, as Camus captures ‘collective trauma rather than individual struggle,’ to remind that ‘the scourge concerns everyone.’ Laura Marris does an excellent job with the translation, delivering a fluid work that is highly readable but also capturing Camus’ intent behind his stylistic choices. Marris says she avoided using current phrasings to keep the novel separate from the 2020 events, like serum instead of vaccine, but it is most noted through the restraint intended in his language. For example, while Marris has translated ‘il fallait recommencer’ as ‘they must begin again,’ the original translation from Stuart Gilbert has ‘they must set their shoulders to the wheel again.’ While this does sort of recall images of Sisyphus, Marris writes in the translation notes that Gilbert’s translation came under post-WWII bravado and added a sense of heroism throughout the book but ‘real hope, for Camus, isn’t heroic,’ she says ‘it’s quiet and necessary and it hurts.

There is no heroism in any of this. It's about honesty.

The Plague's narrator rejects ideas of heroism and seeks to ‘put heroism in the secondary role it deserves.’ Camus uses this to show that it isn’t individual heroism but collective resistance that gives hope. ‘There is a plague, we must defend ourselves,’ Dr Rieux remarks, emphasizing that resistance should be the natural response. To put emphasis on heroism has negative consequences the narrator warns:
this way, you allow people to suppose that honorable actions have such high value because they are rare, and that wickedness and indifference are much more frequent drivers behind human actions…The evil in this world almost always comes from ignorance, and goodwill can do as much damage as wickedness if it's not well informed.

French literary professor Oliver Gloag criticizes the allegory of fascism as it removes ‘all agency from history’ those committing evil. Which is a fair point and I tend to prefer Alba Amoia’s perspective in her book on Camus that this novel is more an expression on ‘a paradigm of man’s ability, through individual choice, to mitigate the evils endemic in the human condition.’ Which complements Gloag’s notion that the plague is more a symbol through which Camus explores his concept of revolt best expressed in The Rebel. Akin to Hannah Arendt writings on the mundanities of evil, Camus shows that resistance is the only reasonable choice, and while those who are passive are (in Arendt’s & Tarrou’s perspectives) thereby part of the evil they allow, this is not always necessarily wickedness as much as ignorance. ‘[T]he most desperate vice comes from the person who is ignorant but believes he knows everything.’ In a book where plague fatigue sets in, where people begin to protest the authorities confining them more than the plague killing them, or lash out at the doctor for not having enough pity as if that would save anyone, Camus shows how this is counter to the spirit of resistance and thusly welcoming evil. In this way, too, it seems a stern warning against misinformation and how ignorance can be just as dangerous as wickedness.

All human sorrow came from not keeping language clear.

The above quote is key to his narrative style in, though critics have deemed it ‘rigorously and studiously unbeautiful’. As Tarrou says that ‘clear speech and action,’ is critical to preventing the loss of life, ‘the narrator has stuck to objectivity in order to betray nothing, and above all, to remain true to himself.’ Especially today where the way we market an idea tends to carry more weight than the validity or truth behind an idea, clarity is key when chronicling a history, as is remaining objective and removing emotion lest it be ‘thrilling with the evils of spectacle.’ Words are something people got hung on too (how often we saw this in 2020, like semantic debates or misunderstanding that science is testing theories and shifts direction with new information), hence when pressed by his colleagues early on about what measures to take, Rieux responds ‘I don’t care about the phrasing…we shouldn’t act as if half the city isn’t at risk of being killed, because then it will be.’ Sometimes it is more about the spirit than the semantics. Camus received heavy criticism for this style from Jean-Paul Sartre and Roland Barthes, the latter he wrote a letter hoping to clear up what he believed was a misinterpretation of the novel by Barthes, ending it with assurances that he has utmost respect for Barthes.

However, there is another aspect to the style that speaks volumes about the ideas underlying the novel. In the end we discover the narrator is who sets out to be an ‘objective witness’. This chronicle of the history of the plague is a response to the ‘long series of similar scenes, repeated indefinitely’ (the most Sisyphean character of the novel would be Rieux and his daily grind fighting against a plague that always wins the battle over each individual life) that allows humanity to have the victors perspective on the past. But, in the face of absurdity, perhaps it is something more. In his notebooks, Camus wrote:
[T]here is no other objection to the totalitarian attitude than the religious or moral objection. If this world is meaningless then they are right. I do not accept that they are right. Therefore…it is on us to create God. He is not the creator. That is all of Christianity's history. Because we have only one way to create God and that is to become God.

The narrator is, in effect, becoming God. Camus long fought against god-like authorities, and placing a human as the omniscient narrator usurps the authority of god, placing our destinies in the hands of humans. Rieux believes in the work of people and as the plague seemed an absurd, unpredictable, force of nature he must counter, he ‘believed he was on the true path, fighting against creation.’ As he explains to Tarrou:
Since the order of the world is ruled by death, perhaps it’s better for God if we don’t believe in him and if we fight against death with all our might, without raising our eyes to the heavens where he keeps silent.

He is a doctor and to put all in God’s hands would be to deny his own purpose against the onslaught of death. ‘The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world,’ Camus wrote in Sisyphus, and Rieux must resign himself to live on even in the face of absurdity.

The question of God looms large in this novel, particularly as God’s existence would imply God allowed all the suffering. In one of the more existential discourses in the book, Dr. Rieux and Jesuit priest Father Paneloux witness the painful death of an innocent child. Paneloux, a symbol of organized religion, moves from having seen the plague as God’s retribution against sinners to preaching that there is no picking and choosing what aspects of religion you believe and which you don’t: an all or nothing, and either/or. His acceptance of it all comes moments before his untimely death due to the plague. Rieux, on the other hand, states ‘I will refuse until death to love that creation where children are tortured,’ and his only moment of outward anger in the entire book is directed at Paneloux following the child’s death. Camus positions Rieux as defender of innocence and views the church as being too silent.

This epidemic doesn’t teach me anything new, except the need to fight by your side.

This is not an easy novel, probing the darkness of death in many ways, but Camus always looks for the light. Tarrou is another figure who represents Camus’ own existential forays into morality and mortality as he has fled his past and aims to be a secular saint making his life’s work fighting against death. His particular calling came when realizing the horrors of the death penalty, knowing his father—a judge—passed these sentences, and coming to understand that any silence in the face of it is complicity in these murders. Many of these ideas reflect Camus’ own ideas, which he wrote as Reflections on the Guillotine alongside a similar argument for the abolition of the death penalty by Arthur Koestler. Rieux and Tarrou make a perfect pairing, two men fighting against death, not bothering with a belief in God, battling exhaustion and chance to hopefully keep as many people alive before it is their turn to return to the soil.

The dying clutching at the living with a mixture of legitimate hate and stupid hope.

The horrors of the plague permeate every page. It is interesting to see it set in Oran, Algeria, which represents a reversal of Camus own life where he returned to Paris under occupation while his wife remained in Algeria. Here, Rieux’s wife leaves Algeria while he stays under occupation. Perhaps it is also, Laura Marris theorizes, because Oran represents an isolated city, ‘a city with it’s back to the sea,’ as Camus wrote in his essay on Algeria in Summer. Isolation and separations are major themes here, with Rambert spending the bulk of the novel trying to flee the city for his wife, only to end up in a Kafkaesque labyrinth of being passed from smuggler to smuggler and delayed again and again before opting to stay and fight. What works quite well is the way Camus triggers historical memory of plagues with his descriptions, recalling the great plagues of history (and now, our own current pandemic). The plague begins with rats coming to the surface to die, which he wrote based on a description of rat plagues by Adrien Proust, the father of great French writer Marcel Proust. As Marris writes in States of Plague, ‘it must have pleased Camus, who felt shut out by the literary opulence of Proust’s milieu, to turn the Proustian teacake into a dead rat,’ done by utilizing Proust’s own family.

The Plague was a divisive novel, being a huge commercial success while also facing strong criticisms. The arguments over the book sometimes feel like the political debates over the 2020 pandemic itself. In The Cambridge Companion to Camus, Margaret E. Gray argues the narrator as an oppressor silencing individualism the same as the plague silenced it’s victims, ‘privileging the collective over the personal' and weaponizing the government against the people. Which is an argument that was used frequently against any preventative measures such as masks. Which is interesting to see play out with this book, which is not without criticism. For a novel set in Algeria, there aren’t really any Algerians in the story and are instead the background people it is implied are dying in higher amounts in the poorer districts that were ‘more crowded or less comfortable’ (this, along with the high deaths in jails there also recalls issues of our recent pandemic). But women, too, are notably absent. Literally in most cases such as the various wives outside the quarantine, who’s only role is to wait for their men to come, or Rieux’s mostly silent mother only serving as his housekeeper, which isn’t a great depiction either. It is unfortunate to note that Camus spoke out against feminism, and particularly railed against Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, which he said humiliated the French male. Not great.

There is so much to say about this imperfect yet rather impressive novel. When Camus died, William Faulkner wrote his obituary saying ‘When the door shut for him he had already written on this side of it that which every artist who also carries through life with him that one same foreknowledge and hatred of death, is hoping to do: I was here.’ Camus’s The Plauge, likely amongst the best books I'll read all year, reads like all of humanity with fists in the air proudly saying ‘I was here.’


When you see the suffering and the pain it brings, you'd have to be crazy, blind, or cowardly to resign yourself to the plague.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,086 reviews7,013 followers
January 13, 2023
[Edited, picture and shelves added 1/13/23]

Somehow Camus brings humanism, optimism and the role of love to an otherwise depressing story of bubonic plague in 1940s Oran, Algeria. First all the rats die and then we go from there. (At least with COVID we don’t have rats.)


After much bureaucratic bungling and delays, the city is cut off from the outside world by quarantine. A lot of the story's focus is on those separated by chance from loved ones for several months. There is intrigue as some plot to escape the town. But mainly a dreary perseverance and indifference takes over many in the city.

Camus uses the suffering and deaths of children to reflect on the role of God and religion. The barren, dry, windswept, desolate town is so well portrayed that it is like a character in the story. I’m reminded of the religious theme and the desolation of the Mexican town in Graham Green’s novel The Power and the Glory.

If you are put off by the thought that this is an incredibly depressing book, don’t be. There’s a tone of optimism that balances the despair.

Photo of street scene in Oran by Ferhat Bouda on nytimes.com
Profile Image for Lea.
118 reviews350 followers
January 16, 2022
“But what does it mean, the plague? It's life, that's all.”

A great piece of literature, very important for the current pandemic situation that the world is facing, but has relevance for all times in human history, as it was said - plague never really goes away.

I see the plague as a symbol od inevitability of human suffering - crisis, sickness, torture, death that can come up at any moment, at any time. That is existential vulnerability that we as humans have to live with, thought out all ages.
But in face of collective adversity, we have the ability to chose with our own distinctive response, that is ours only - that is our fundamental freedom.
Characters in The Plague represent sometimes almost stereotypical ways that humans can respond to suffering (maybe even discussions that Camus had with himself). Religious view, clinging to duty, surrendering to obligations, hope, closeness, tenderness and connectedness to others, making the best out ourselves and others, small joys of everyday life, illegal actions for our own benefit - that are all paths that we can take in the face of a destructive force that is bigger than ourselves. The main theme is also how we come to form our own meaning, morality, philosophy and world-view and how that philosophy is challenged with the reality of life. We have opposites in father Paneloux and Tarrou - one using the external system of belief to impose forced meaning to senselessness and one coming to his own morality in conjunction with his own self, respecting the absurd element of life. In some ways, The Plague reminded me of The Brothers Karamazov each character using different system of belief in face of life's burden (especially the debate about religion and God, and using the argument of suffering children as an argument against God as Ivan Karamazov did.).
The cruelty of nature is best described in the scene of agony of the death of a young boy. That is the brutal and indifferent nature of suffering, the absurdity - it’s randomly distributed, and innocent suffer as much as the vile, and that is something that is not comprehensible to human reason, whether someone is religious or not.
What to do in face of the absurdity of suffering? Camus imposes the answer is in the act of rebellion against cruel circumstances, no matter how futile our actions seem to be. One must imagine Sisyphus happy, right? I also saw overlapping themes with the Stranger, with the human law in contrast with justice, judging versus trying to understand one’s actions.

In this book, there is a lot of commentary on the collective but also on the individual. The beauty and horror of the story are represented in unique, very memorable scenes. Dead rats on the streets are something that is haunting and really sets the torturous atmosphere of the book. The whole experience of the book took me back to the time I worked in palliative care, facing dying people day after day. So I really resonated with doctor Rieux, especially the burnout process he experienced, in tiredness and sense of apathy in face of suffering, still maintaining devotion to duty. No matter how helpless you feel, meaning is found in small acts of kindness and connection. But I think one of the main ideas is also - even when you can't find meaning life is worth living, and a small moment as swimming at the sea can make the burden of being tolerable.

This book has so many layers and there are so many terrific reviews from my friend from Goodreads so I don’t want to repeat everything that has already been said, but if you haven’t, read the book!!
Profile Image for فايز غازي Fayez Ghazi .
Author 2 books3,623 followers
May 19, 2023
- "الطاعون"، يعتبرها بعض النقّاد رائعة ألبير كامو (أعتقد ان السقطة أفضل منها بأشواط)، رواية مبنية على التمهل والتفصيل في الوصف ثم تركيب التوريات والرمزيات ما بين السطور لتصبح رواية قد تقرأ على عدة طبقات ولتعكس العديد من المفاهيم الإنسانية والوجودية.

- ظاهرياً، القصة تتكلم عن مرض الطاعون الذي يجتاح مدينة وهران الجزائرية، فيحولها من مدينة مفتوحة تعبق بالحياة الى سجنٍ كبير. ينتقل المرض بين حاراتها وبيوتها، فيصيب هذا ويميت ذلك. يشرح "كامو" يتصاعد سردي ردة فعل الناس: إنكار في البداية للمرض بذاته، ثم خوف من المرض، فتعايش معه وإنتظار القدر وساعته، ثم بؤس، ثم تعاضد بين الناس فإنفراج مع انحساره فأفراح مع انتهائه ثم نسيان!!

- الراوي لا يعرف الا مع الصفحات الأخيرة (ولو ان الجميع سيخمن انه الدكتور "ريو" قبل ذلك بكثير)، وهذا الراوي جعله "كامو" إنساناً ملحداً وجعله يتدرّج من الوجودية الى العبثية بين بداية الرواية وآخرها: فهو وجودي يؤمن بصفة الإنسان والإنسانية منذ البداية، يقاوم المرض ويزور الناس لمعالجتهم ويساعد في المبادرات التي تحاول كبح جنون الوباء لأنه مهتم وبتفاؤل بصحة الإنسان ولعل خير مثال على ذلك هو في هذا الحوار بينه وبين الأب "بانولو" ص217-218:

"ريو: اننا نعمل معاً من اجل شيئ يجمعنا خلف حدود التجديفات والصلوات. إن هذا وحده هو المهم الآن.
بانولو: أجل، أجل.. أنت ايضاً تعمل من أجل خلاص الإنسان
فحاول ريو ان يبتسم:
- إن خلاص الإنسان كلمة كبيرة جداً علي وأنا لا أذهب مذهباً بعيداً كهذا. وانما تعنيني صحة الإنسان، صحته قبل كل شيئ"

ومع النهاية يتطور للعبثية المطلقة في عدم امكانية فهم هذا الوجود وهذه الحياة والعلاقات التي تربطهما، ص287:

كان يعلم ما يجول في خاطر أمه، وأنها تحبه. لكنه كان يعلم أيضاً أنه ليس بالأمر العظيم أن يحب أحدنا كائناً، وأن حباً ما على الأقل تنقصه دائماً القوة ليجيد التعبير الذاتي عن نفسه. وهكذا سيظل هو وأمه يتحابان دائماً بصمت. وسوف تموت بدورها، او هو، دون ان يتمكنا طوال حياتهما من ان يمضيا الى ابعد من ذلك في البوح بحنانهما، وبالطريقة نفسها كان قد عاش بالقرب من تارو، وقد مات تارو ذلك المساء دون ان يتاح لصداقتهما حقاً أن تعاش"

- باطنياً، قد تقرأ على عدة أوجه:

* الوجه السياسي: الطاعون يمثل الجيش الألماني الذي غزا اوروبا (إبان الحرب العالمية الثانية) بسرعة خيالية واحتل معظمها (وفرنسا من ضمن ما احتل) بوقت قصير وأباد من أباد في طريقه لكنه عاد لينهزم في الأخير وينحسر. ص95:

"إن الطاعون لم يكن في نظرهم إلا زائراً غير مرغوب فيه لا بد ان يرحل يوماً كما جاء. كانوا مذعورين، و��كن غير يائيسن""

* الوجه الفلسفي: الطاعون هو الإله نفسه، وبذلك فهو إله مادي يتحكم بمصير البشر، يبقي من يشاء على قيد الحياة ويميت من يشاء، والإنسان بذلك يمتلك القدرة على مقاومة هذا الإله ومجاراته بل والتغلب عليه لاحقاً! ص172:

"لقد كان جميع الناس، من المدير (اي مدير السجن) حتى آخر موقوف، محكوماً عليهم، من وجهة نظر الطاعون العليا. وهكذا كان يسود السجن عدل مطلق، وربما كان ذلك للمرة الأولى"

ص 254:

"اني استشعر مع المقهورين حظاً من التضامن اكبر مما استشعر مع القديسين. وأحسب اني لا احب البطولة ولا القداسة، ان الذي يهمني هو ��ن يكون المرء انساناً."

- شخصياً، أحسست ان "كامو" يقصد بالطاعون الحياة، فمنذ الفصول الأولى كنت اراه يصف الحياة على انها الطاعون، وبذلك تكون هذه الحياة من غير قيمة لا توصف الا انها مرض ولا خلاص منها الا بالموت، لكن الموت لا يعني الإنتحار بل المضي في الكفاح والمقاومة حتى الرمق الأخير!

- الأسلوب السردي كان ممتازاً لكن الوصف زاد عن حدّه مما أصابني بالملل في بعض الأماكن، لكن ما كان يزيح هذا الملل هو الأفكار الإنسانية التي كان يزجّ بها كامو من حين لآخر عن الصداقة، والحب والحرب.

"في وهران- كما في المدن الأخرى- يضطر الناس، بسبب من ضيق الوقت والتفكير، الى ان يحبوا من دون ان يشعروا""
"ان المصائب هي شيء شائع ولكنك تصدقها بصعوبة حين تسقط على رأسك""
"لا شيئ اشد غباء من الحرب. والغباء يثابر ويطول دائماً""
" إن الطاعون لم يكن في نظرهم إلا زائراً غير مرغوب فيه لا بد ان يرحل يوماً كما جاء. كانوا مذعورين، ولكن غير يائيسن""
"سوف نرى من جديد "أعياد اله الزمان" على حواف القبور."
"لعل من الخير لنا ان نحب ما لا نستطيع إدراكه"
"حرارة حياة وصورة موت. تلك هي المعرفة!"
Profile Image for Debra .
2,298 reviews35k followers
May 19, 2018
3.5 stars

"...that a loveless world is a dead world, and always there comes an hour when one is weary of prisons, of one’s work, and of devotion to duty, and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth and wonder of a loving heart."

Well this book about human resilience in the face of horror/sickness/plague was WORK for me. I found myself having to read and re-read sections as this book is not just a book but a social, political, philosophical commentary. I found myself thinking "huh? what did the narrator just say? What did he mean?" Plus, there is the question about the identity of the narrator...read to find out!

The book begins as a plague is sweeping Oran, a coastal town in North Africa. First rats then humans begin dying and the town decides to quarantine the town by isolating it from the outside world. Many of the characters are cut off from those they love. The characters in this book range from Dr. Rieux, to vacationers and fugitives. As the townspeople try to survive, the book shows us their resilience, their suffering, their compassion, their banning together, and their thoughts on love and life.

Whew! This was not a book, I was able to dig into and power read. It did take some time as the book is deep.
Profile Image for Fernando.
680 reviews1,095 followers
July 21, 2020
“¡Ah, si fuera un temblor de tierra! Una buena sacudida y no se habla más del caso… Se cuentan los muertos y los vivos y asunto concluido. ¡Mientras que esta porquería de peste! Hasta los que no la tienen parecen llevarla en el corazón”.

Muchos coincidirán conmigo de que La Peste es una de las mejores novelas que se han escrito en el siglo XX. El nivel de realismo alcanzado por Albert Camus es sorprendente y para ello se vale de muchos recursos, todos ellos efectivos y en ningún caso utilizado como golpe bajo. A partir de los primeros síntomas de la enfermedad, de la señal de las ratas que emergen de las profundidades para morir, de la propagación de la enfermedad en los primeros humanos y del reinado destructivo de la peste, el lector no tiene descanso, más allá de encontrarse con muchos pasajes de diálogo, puesto que siente la misma presión que los ciudadanos de Orán, con el peso de la espada de Damócles sobre sus hombros.
Y es que la peste no da respiro ni concesiones. No discrimina, no es selectiva. No le importan las clases sociales, las edades ni las jerarquías. Ataca, infecta y mata rápidamente. Sin piedad ni miramientos. La ciudad comienza a cambiar sus hábitos en forma drástica y lo que otrora se vivía como normalidad ahora es parte de los dominios de la peste.
Y esta es la nueva cotidianeidad en Orán. Todo está detenido, las calles están desiertas, negras, sombrías y los ciudadanos condenados a un futuro gris e incierto. Las fronteras están cerradas, los comercios con sus persianas bajas, la gente recluida en sus casas y los edificios públicos convertidos en hospitales de campaña. Las cuarentenas son obligatorias y a causa de esto, los familiares enfermos son separados rápidamente de los sanos, quienes no vuelven a verlos mientras dure la peste y es obvio que todo va mellando el espíritu del oranense.
El cronista nos relata la vida de los personajes principales, sobre todo la del doctor Bernard Rieux, el gran batallador contra la peste y también de algunos de sus colaboradores como Jean Tarrou (el personaje de costado más filosófico del libro), Cottard, Joseph Grand, el periodista Raymond Rambert, el doctor Castel y el padre Paneloux.
Para no develar mucho acerca de estos personajes sólo voy a comentar que el doctor Rieux y Tarrou, ambos amigos y confidentes adentrada la historia son los personajes que más me han impactado. La estoica actitud de Rieux ante el avance de la epidemia, poco creyente en Dios y sobrepasado hasta el agotamiento a causa de su lucha contra la peste es sostenida por los pensamientos profundos de Tarrou en donde la moral, la religión y el absurdo se transforman en gran parte de la trama de la historia y van de la mano de todos los personajes, pero haciendo hincapié en Tarrou, Cottard y el padre Paneloux.
Respecto de éste último, durante el momento más álgido de la peste, el padre Paneloux brinda un sermón sentido realmente que relaciono al que pronuncia el padre Mapple en el libro Moby Dick cuando anticipa a los fieles los peligros del mar y pone en juego la fe de los hombres en Dios a través de la parábola de Jonás y la ballena. La similitud entre ambos sermones es estrecha, porque en ambos se le pide a los hombres aceptar la voluntad de Dios, pero se llega un punto en que el menos creyente de los fieles iguala al más acérrimo ateo. Y tampoco es este el único momento en que Camus realiza saltos intertextuales en la novela. La situación en que se encuentran los ciudadanos de Orán a merced de la peste le da la posibilidad de exponer distintos puntos de vista existenciales propugnado a partir de la diversidad de sus personajes.
Cabe destacar también el guiño que le hace a uno de sus autores preferidos, Franz Kafka, cuando a modo de homenaje a la novela "El Proceso", Cottard comenta: "No es ese mi caso, pero estaba leyendo esa novela. Ahí tienen a un desgraciado a quien detienen, de pronto, una mañana. Estaban ocupándose de él y él no lo sabía. Estaban hablando de él en los despachos, inscribiendo su nombre en fichas. ¿Cree usted que esto es justo? ¿Cree usted que hay derecho a hacerle eso a un hombre?".
Lo absurdo del juicio se relaciona de alguna manera con la peste. Los seres humanos son vapuleados como hojas en un vendaval de la misma manera que K. en la novela de Kafka. Todo es arbitrario para la peste, porque ella hace lo que quiere.
En otro pasaje y sin nombrarlo expresamente, hace referencia a Mersault, su famoso personaje de "El Extranjero": "En medio de una conversación, la vendedora le había hablado de un proceso reciente que había hecho mucho ruido en Argel. Se trataba de un joven empleado que había matado a un árabe en la playa". Más allá de las formalidades de la novela, siempre hay margen para conectar con otros costados de la literatura y esas son cosas que me agrada mucho encontrar en las novelas cuando las leo.
La moral se resquebraja, la peste no da tregua y los hombres, simples mortales, luego de la preocupación inicial, pasan del pánico, al paroxismo y la aceptación de sus realidades hasta desembocar en una apatía constante, como entregados a sus destinos. Comienzan a dudar de Dios, ponen todo en un plano de disconformidad, descreen de que haya un fin cercano para la epidemia.
Hasta el mismo Paneloux flaquea. Otro cura admite que "Cuando un cura consulta a un médico, hay contradicción".
Esa frase me recordó una de mi padre quien no era creyente para nada y supo decirme alguna vez: "Yo siempre voy a confiar más en un hombre vestido de blanco que en uno vestido de negro".
En cierta manera ambas frases dejan al descubierto lo que los hombres se plantean ante una epidemia que no amaina y que destruye todo a su paso. Es muy difícil mantener la moral ante tanta muerte circundante. Pero como dice un viejo refrán, "Dios aprieta pero no ahorca" y las cosas, aún tratándose de la peste, comenzarán a cambiar.
De todos modos, aquí me detengo. No es mi idea contar nada acerca del final para aquellos lectores que deseen leer esta gran novela de Camus que nos plantea tantos desafíos a los seres humanos, quienes ante las situaciones más extremas somos puestos a prueba.
La fe, lo existencial, las relaciones humanas, los sentimientos y Dios son algunos de los puntos claves que Albert Camus toca para hacernos pensar que tan frágiles somos y sobre todo con qué rapidez pueden nuestras vidas cambiar a partir de un hecho crucial, sea una peste, un desastre natural o una guerra. Pero aunque a veces no lo parezca la respuesta está siempre en nosotros mismos.
¿No les parece?
Profile Image for Mohammed  Ali.
475 reviews1,102 followers
September 9, 2021

- أرأيت يا دكتور ؟ إنّها تخرج
قالت الزوجة :
- نعم ، لقد التقط جارنا ثلاثة منها .
ثم أخذ العجوز يفرك يديه وهو يقول :
-إنّها تخرج ، ويعثرون عليها في كل صندوق من صناديق القمامة المنزلية . إنّه الجوع !
قال الدّكتور :
- أمر غريب بالفعل !!
صرخ العجوز :
- إنّــــها الكارثــــة !

Camus HH0001
hebergeur dimage

مقدمة لا جدوى منها :

الطاعون من الأوبئة الأكثر فتكا والتّي عرفها الإنسان في مختلف مراحل تاريخه، وهو مرض معدي لقّب بالموت الأسود وخلّف وراءه
ملايين الضحايا .

herbergeur d image

سؤال :

- إذن نحن أمام رواية تحكي عن تاريخ الطاعون وأنواعه وتصف أعراضه بشكل دقيق ، تعطينا إحصائيات مقربة حول عدد الضحايا ؟؟

جواب :

- لا !

الطـــــــاعــــــــــــون .. رواية لألبـيـــــــــــــــر كـــــــــــــامــــــــــــو

hébergement gratuit

المكان :

- مدينة وهران .

سؤال :

- لماذا هذه المدينة بالذات ؟

جواب :

- مدينة وهران في ذلك الزمان ، كانت بمثابة المدينة الإقتصادية والتجارية الفتية والتي تتطور بسرعة كبيرة . وأهم ما يميز المدن الإقتصادية التجارية هو الرتابة ، والهدوء . الرتابة الناجمة عن عادات سكانها، فالعامل إنسان روتيني، فهو بحكم عمله سيخلق لنفسه روتينا محددا واضحا ( الإستيقاظ باكرا، الذهاب للعمل، ثم العودة منه مساء، قسط من الراحة، ثم الخروج إلى المقهى أو التجول الخفيف بين ساحات المدينة، ثم العودة باكرا للنوم من أجل الإستيقاظ للعمل ..) ، ما عدا أيام العطلة الأسبوعية طبعا .

heberger une image

" .. و لعل من أسهل الطرق التي يتعرف بها المرء على مدينة ما أن يبحث : كيف يعمل الناس فيها، وكيف يحبون، وكيف يموتون، ففي مدينتنا الصغيرة يحدث كل هذا بطريقة واحدة عصبية ذاهلة . ومعنى ذلك أن السأم يدرك أهل المدينة، وأنهم يبذلون جهدهم حتى تكون حياتهم سلسلة من العادات الراسخة، ومواطنونا يعملون كثيرا، وهدفهم الدائم هو الثروة، والتجارة أكثر الأشياء إثارة لإهتمامهم . "

" .. ففي وهران - كما في غيرها - يضطر الناس إلى أن يحبوا دون أن يشعروا بسبب ضيق الوقت و قلة التفكير "

إذن مميزات هذه المدينة : الرتابة ،الهدوء ، والروتين وهو عبارة عن مجموعة من العادات الراسخة . ثم فجأة يأتي شيء آخر غير متوقع تماما، فيضرب المدينة في مميزاتها قبل سكانها ، شيء سيقلب المدينة رأسا على عقب ..إنّه الوباء .. إنّها الكارثة ..

إنه الطاعون !!!

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الرواية طويلة نوعا ما ( حوالي 400 صفحة ) ولكنها بحدث واحد فقط - الطاعون - بداية الرواية هي بداية الطاعون ونهاية الرواية هي نهاية الطاعون، ولكن ما بين البداية والنهاية رحلة فلسفية، نفسية، اجتماعية، دينية، وإنسانية .

بداية ظهور أعراض الطاعون :

" في صبيحة اليوم السادس عشر من إبريل خرج الدكتور ( برنار ريو ) من مكتبه، واصطدم بفأر ميت على بسطة السلم "

بدأ ألبير كامو روايته بذلك النوع المسمى " بالنمط الكارثي " ، ظهور مجموعة متزايدة من الفئران وخروجها إلى الشارع أو خروجها من مخابئها ثم موتها . و كان موقف الإنسان من هذا الأمر موقف العاجز المندهش، فهو لم يرى أعدادا مثل هذه تغزوا الشوارع والمنازل لتطلق صرخة مدوية ثم تموت .كان موقف السكان في البداية هو التعجب المصحوب بنوع من التقزز من هذه الظاهرة ، ولكن سرعان ما دب في نفوسهم الشك، فهذه الظاهرة تحميل نذير الخطر .

تلى هذا الخروج الغريب للفئران .. حمى غريبة أصابت بعض المواطنين، بالإضافة إلى ظهور أعراض أغرب من الحمى أدت إلى حدوث وفيات سريعة صاعقة . فتحولت الدهشة والتعجب الذي استولى على السكان في البداية إلى الذعر، والذي تحول بسرعة إلى اضطراب .

ولكن حتى هذه اللحظة لم يستطع السكان الربط بين الفئران والموت، فالأمر مجرد صدفة رغم أن هذه الصدفة كانت مصدرا للذعر والإضطراب .

الطاعون :

" أما أنا فأعرف ما هو، و لست في حاجة إلى تحليلات، فقد قضيت شطرا من خدمتي في الصين، ثم رأيت بعض الحالات من هذا القبيل في باريس منذ عشرين عاما، ولكن لم يكن أحد يجرؤ على أن يطلق إسما على هذه الحالات، فالرأي العام شيء مقدس، و يجب أن يتجنب حدوث أي ذعر، أن يتجنب حدوث ذعر بشكل خاص، ثم إنه كما يقول أحد الزملاء - هذا مستحيل، فقد اختفى هذا المرض من الغرب - نعم الجميع يعرفون أنه اختفى، ما عدا من ماتوا "

وبعد اجتماع الأطباء لتحليل التقارير والملاحظات، تم إعلان انتشار الوباء وإغلاق المدينة .

نهاية هذا الوباء :

في شهر يناير أي بعد حوالي تسعة أشهر من ظهور الوباء، تم الإعلان عن اعادة فتح أبواب المدينة وعن زوال هذا الوباء الذي خيّم طويلا على أجوائها ، حتى نسي بعضهم كيفية العيش بدون الطاعون .

سؤال :

-كيف يمكن لرواية حدثها بسيط ووحيد وهو " الطاعون " أن تكون ممتعة، فالأحداث هي ما تصنع المتعة في الرواية ؟

جواب :

-هل تستطيع الإستمتاع بالتفاصيل اليومية المملة ؟

الناس أي السكان:

لقد وصفنا في بداية هذه المراجعة عقلية سكان مدينة وهران، وطبيعة عيشهم في هذه المدينة، أما الأن فسنتتبع حالهم - و إن كان هنا الأمر نسبي لأن الإختلاف بين الفرد والآخر كبير جدا، و لكن سنحاول تتبع انفعالاتهم المشتركة - والتي تصلح للتعميم - و هذا عبر مراحل الوباء المختلفة .

قبل الإعلان عن ظهور الوباء :

كان الشعور العام في البداية هو الدهشة والتعجب من خروج الفئران وموتها، ثم تحولت هذه الدهشة إلى ذعر واضطراب، فتولد داخلهم خوف نوعا ما مصحوب بتفكير عميق، غير أن هذا التفكير سرعان ما ينجلي عبر ممارسة الروتين الراسخ والمتعود عليه .

لحظة الإعلان عن الوباء :

لقد فوجىء السكان بهذا الوباء وتوزع شعورهم بين القلق واليقين، لأنهم كانوا غرقى في الإنسانية ولا يعتقدون في الأوبئة، فالوباء أكبر من الإنسان، ولذا يميل الناس للإعتقاد بأنه ليس من أمور الواقع . ثم تلى هذا الشعور شيء من النكران - أي إن الأمر مجرد حدث عابر سرعان ما يزول - فاستمروا في أشغالهم و صفقاتهم .

بعد الإعلان عن الوباء :

هذه هي اللحظة الأكثر حرجا بالنسبة للسكان، لأن الأبواب أغلقت، الوفيات انتشرت، فكانت الصدمة هي التي تحرك سكان المدينة، فوجدوا أنفسهم أمام شعور جديد ومذاق مختلف، إنه النفي أو العيش في المنفى، الشعور بالفراغ والرغبة الجامحة في العودة إلى الوراء، وعزّز هذا الشعور تعرف السكان على نوع جديد من المشاعر وهو الشوق، فمعظمهم حرموا من أشخاص كانوا خارج المدينة لحظة غلق الأبواب، فامتزج النفي بالشوق والصدمة والخوف والموت والفئران مشكلين جوا عفنا ثقيلا تحت شمس صيفية حارقة جدا .

" و هكذا أصبحوا معلقين وسط المسافة بين هذه الهوات وتلك القمم، أصبحوا يتلاطمون أكثر مما يعيشون، ولا ملجأ لهم إلا أيام لا وجهة لها، وذكريات قاحلة، وظلال هائمة . لم تكن لتقوى على البقاء لو لم تنشب جذورها في أرض آلامهم .

بعد أسابيع من الإعلان عن الطاعون :

بلغ شعورهم بالوحدة أقصى حدوده، وعاش كل واحد منهم وحيدا متخبطا في مشاغله وهمومه، ولم يتوقف بعضهم لرؤية بعض، وأصبح الكلام شبه منعدم، و أصبح الإستماع إلى الآخر منعدما تماما، فكان الواحد منهم يظن أن آلامه هي الأكبر والأعمق أما الآخر فيظن أن آلام هذا الشخص عادية ومتواضع عليها و معروفة وأكثر انتشارا مما يظن . وبدأت الإحصائيات بخصوص الموتى تنتشر .

سؤال :

- كيف استقبل الناس احصائيات عدد الموتى في البداية ؟

جواب :

- لم تثر فيهم أي خيال رغم أهمية هذه الإحصائيات، لأنهم كانت تنقصهم المعلومات التي تمكنهم من عقد المقارنات .

بعد مرور شهر عن الإعلان :

بدأ نوع من التقبل الطفيف يظهر على المواطنين، وأن هذا الحدث غير شيئا داخلهم إلا أنه لم يلمسهم عميقا، ولكن سرعان ما ولد هذا القبول الطفيف شعورا خطيرا جدا وهو أن حياتهم الآن أصبحت في خطر، بل إنهم يعيشون الآن في سجن كبير تحت سماء حارة ينتظرون مصيرهم برتابة و ضيق كبيرين .

بعد مرور أكثر من شهر عن الإعلان :

توحد الناس في شعورهم باليأس وهذا الشعور المعمم جعلهم يشعرون بنوع من الإنسانية ونوع من التعاون لم يعرفوه من قبل، كما أن كل يوم يمر يقربهم من نهاية محنهم على شرط ألا يموتوا قبل ذلك . كما أحسوا بشناعة الحرية عندما يكون المرء معدما.

بعد مرور أكثر من ستة أشهر عن الإعلان :

النفي، الشوق، الخوف، الجوع، الفراق، الصراع مع الطاعون، الموت، الإحصائيات، النشرات، الشائعات،القيظ، الغبار، الجنائز، الشرطة، صوت صفارات سيارة الإسعاف، اليأس، الرتابة، الفراغ، والعجز اختلطت هذا المشاعر ثم انفجرت فظهرت أعمال عنف كبيرة وحرائق وسرقات زادت الأمر سوءا.

الإقتراب من نهاية الطاعون :

أصبحوا شاردي الذهن، جامدي التعبير، معظمهم كبر في السن رغم مرور بضعة أشهر فقط، سيماء الهم و العذاب بادية على
الوجوه الكالحة .

".. ربما كنا أكثر دقة لو قلنا: إنهم كانو من الناحية المعنوية والجسمية يشعرون بنار الجوى تحرق أحشاءهم، فقد كانوا في بداية الطاعون يذكرون جيدا الشخص الذي فقدوه، ويأسفون لفراقه، ولكنهم إذا ذكروا بوضوح وجه الحبيب وضحكته وأيامه السعيدة، فإنهم كانوا يجدون صعوبة في تخيل ما عسى أن يفعله هذا الشخص في تلك الساعة التي يذكرونه فيها وهو في أمكنة ستظل دائما نائية عنهم. ومعنى ذلك أنهم في هذا الوقت كانوا يتمتعون بالذاكرة و لكن ينقصهم الخيال، أما في المرحلة الثانية للطاعون، فقد فقدوا الذاكرة أيضا . "

نهاية الطاعون :

فتحت الأبواب فدخل ناس على أشلاء أناس.

سؤال :

- هل الإنسان قبل الوباء هو نفسه الإنسان بعد الوباء ؟

جواب :

- لا !!

شخوص الرواية :

- ريو : طبيب

موقفه من الطاعون و فلسفته في الحياة :

يؤمن بالاحتمالات أكثر من انشغاله بالقوى الغيبية، فهو يقرّ بالنهاية أنه إذا كان الناس "لا يستطيعون أن يكونوا قديسين ويرفضون الاستسلام للأوبئة، فإنهم مضطرون لأن يكونوا أطباء"، أي مضطرين للمواجهة العملية، بلا ضجرٍ غير مجدٍ.

- تارو : نظم عمليات الحجر الصحي، و التدخل، و نقل المرضى و الجثث على حد سواء .

موقفه من الطاعون و فلسفته في الحياة :

تارو، لم يؤمن يومًا بالقضاء والقدر، ليس لأنه ينكره؛ بل لأن المسألة كلها لا تعنيه، فهو لا يملك القدر الكافي من المعلومات؛ لذا، نراه يعلق على عادة الصينيين بدق الطبول أمام عفريتة الطاعون في حال حلول الوباء، بالتساؤل: "أيهما أجدى وأنفع؟ دقات الطبول أم الإجراءات الوقائية؟ وأضاف أنه يجب، لكي نقطع في الموضوع برأي، أن تكون لدينا معلومات عما إذا كانت عفريتة الطاعون موجودة حقًا أم لا، وإن جهلنا بهذه النقطة يضرب على كل آرائنا في هذا الموضوع بالعقم".

- بانلو : قس في الكنيسة

موقفه من الطاعون و فلسفته في الحياة :

.الطاعون لا يعدو كونه إرادة إلهية موجهة لحكمة عظيمة، وهي "التكفير عن الذنوب"، وهي أيضًا تميز بين الصالحين والشريرين

كوتار : مندوب مبيعات يحاول الإنتحار في بداية الرواية .

موقفه من الطاعون و فلسفته في الحياة :

هو الشخص الوحيد الذي كان سعيدًا بالوباء، على عكس الروح القاتمة التي سكنت هواجس الآخرين بسببه، لقد كان هذا القدر رائعا، وهو كل ما يتمناه كوتار، فلقد كان ملاحقا بسبب جريمة لا نعلمها، فالجميع الآن يحررونه من هاجس الملاحقة حين ينضمون إليه، مع فرق أن ملاحقيه بشر، والآخرين يلاحقهم الطاعون.

و هناك شخصيات أخرى تتوزع أدورها في الرواية بشكل أو بآخر .


رواية جميلة و متكاملة نوعا ما، تستحق القراءة.


سؤال :

- هل قرأت المراجعة ؟

الجواب :

- طبعا لا !! فهي طويلة و أنا لا أملك الوقت لفعل ذلك . :D
Profile Image for Luís.
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April 26, 2023
April 194 .., The Plague settles in Algeria in Oran, and everyday mortal cases multiply. Yet the prefecture is slow to declare "the state of the plague" because it does not want to worry public opinion. But a few weeks, in the face of the emergency, the prefect ordered the city gates to be closed.
Oran is isolated, separated, and cut off from the rest of the world. As a result, the inhabitants become "prisoners of The Plague"; the city resembles a condemned to death.
The epidemic progresses. The plague strikes everywhere and keeps the city folded underneath it. It becomes a "collective affair," and even those who do not carry "that sickness" bring it into their hearts.
The plague opens the eyes of the inhabitants and forces them to think and react. Each individual chooses his camp and adopts an attitude peculiar to himself.
Albert Camus illustrates his narrative with key figures such as Rieux, the doctor, and Cottard, the trafficker. Grand, the clerk of the town hall; Paneloux, the priest. Tarrou, the chronicler; Rambert, the journalist; etc. Each of these protagonists incarnates a different morality facing the Scourge. Yet, even if these men disagree on different levels, they turn out to be "men of goodwill" who act to defeat the plague together.
Camus compares (without citing it) the plague with war, the rise of Nazism, and the struggle of men against the Scourge to represent resistance.
In his book, men occupy a prominent place as if the plague only concerned men. Therefore, it can deduce that conflicts are only a story of men! The woman has second place, effaced. It sometimes appears as sweetness, comfort, or support for the man, not a thinking being.
In his work, the author depicts a community that shares the same struggle, demonstrating that the effects of the Scourge on a man can change mindsets, feelings, and worldviews. It shows, above all, that We are all equal before death.
A work of high quality, some passages are of a terrifying realism, the progression and the ravages of the plague described in the minor details.
The scene of the child's agony is one of the most painful passages, for we are helplessly witnessing his suffering and inevitably at his death.
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لقد فوجيء ريو -كما فوجيء مواطنونا - بهذا الوباء ، و علي هذا النحو ينبغي لنا أن نفسر تردده ، و علي هذا النحو أيضاً يجب أن نفهم أنه كان موزعاً بين القلق و اليقين ، فعندما تندلع نيران الحرب يقول الناس : إنها لن تطول ، لأن إستمرارها ينم عن أشد الغباء ، فال��اقع أنه لاشيء أشد غباءً من الحرب ، و لكن هذا لا يمنع من أن يطول أمدها ، إذ الغباء من شأنه المثابرة ، و يمكن أن نلمس ذلك بوضوح إذا ما صرفنا النظر قليلاً عن حصر تفكيرنا في أنفسنا ، و إذن فقد كان مواطنونا في هذا الصدد كغيرهم من الناس ، كان تفكيرهم محصوراً في أنفسهم، و بعبارة أخري كانوا عريقين في الإنسانية ، أي لا يعتقدون في الأوبئة ، فالوباء أكبر من الإنسان ، و لذا يميل الناس إلي الإعتقاد بأنه ليس من أمور الواقع ، و بأن المسألة لا تتعدي حلماً مزعجا لا يلبث أن ينتهي ، و لكن الحلم لا ينقضي في كل الأحيان ، ثم تتتابع الأحلام المزعجة بعضها في إثر بعض ، حتي ينقض الناس أنفسهم فيها - و في مقدمتهم أصحاب الفلسفة الإنسانية - لأنهم لم يتخذوا للأمر حيطته ، فمواطنونا لم يكونوا أشد من غيرهم وزراً ، كل ما في الأمر أنهم نسوا أن يتواضعوا ، و أنهم ظنوا أن كل شيء لا يزال ممكناً بالنسبة لهم ، و معني هذا أن الأوبئة غير ممكنة الحدوث ، فاستمروا في عقد الصفقات ، و في إعداد الرحلات ، و في إعتناق الآراء . كيف يمكنهم إذن أن يفكروا في الطاعون الذي يقضي علي المستقبل و الأسفار و المناقشات ؟ كانوا يظنون أنفسهم أحراراً ، و لكن لا وجود للأحرار ما دام للأوبئة وجود

كان يعلم ما يجول في خاطر أمه، وأنها تحبه. لكنه كان يعلم أيضاً أن ليس بالأمر العظيم أن يحب الإنسان كائناً غيره، أو على الأقل أن الحب لا يبلغ قط درجة من القوة يجد معها تعبير عن ذاته. هكذا كان هو وأمه يتحابان في صمت. وستموت هي، أو قد يموت هو، دون أن يتمكنا خلال حياتهما تجاوز ذلك في البوح بما يحسه أحدهما من الحنان نحو الآخر.
لقد عاش كذلك إلى جانب صديقه تارو الذي مات ذلك المساء، دون أن يُتاح لصداقتهما أن تعيش كما يجب. لقد خسر تارو المعركة، على حد تعبيره، ولكن ما تراه قد ربح هو؟ كان كل ما ربحه أنه عرف الطاعون، واحتفظ بذاكراه المريرة، وأنه عرف الصداقة، واحتفظ بذكراه، وعرف الحنان وسوف يضطر في يوم من الأيام إلى تذكره. كل ما يستطيع المرء ربحه في لعبتي الطاعون والحياة انما هو المعرفة، والذكرى. قد يكون ذلك ما عناه تارو بقوله "ربح المعركة".
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Author 6 books1,303 followers
February 12, 2023
„În dimineaţa lui 16 aprilie, doctorul Bernard Rieux ieşi din cabinetul său şi dădu peste un şobolan mort” (p.14). Ce-o mai fi și asta? Nu prea îți vine să rîzi. Ceva nu-i în regulă...

Portul Oran din Algeria este lovit pe neașteptate de o epidemie de ciumă bubonică. Epidemia va dura aproape un an (aprilie - februarie anul următor). Doctorul Castel prepară un vaccin, medicul Rieux încearcă să-i ajute pe bolnavi, organizează echipe sanitare, îi vizitează și îi îngrijește pe toți, fără să facă vreo deosebire între pacienți. El este un soi de Zénon Ligre modern - eroul din Piatra filosofală de Marguerite Yourcenar.

Aș mai cita faimoasa frază în care naratorul își dezvăluie, către finalul cărții, identitatea: „Această cronică se apropie de sfîrşit. E timpul ca doctorul Bernard Rieux să declare că este autorul ei” (p.314).

Interpretările tind să lege romanul lui Camus de momentul în care a fost scris. Și însuși autorul, într-o discuție cu Roland Barthes din 1955, a legitimat o astfel de lectură. Camus declară că a procedat alegoric și a descris, în realitate, „ciuma brună” și modul în care o ideologie nocivă „infectează” o întreagă comunitate. Aș prefera, ca de obicei, o interpretare literală. În Ciuma, prozatorul francez prezintă modul în care un grup de oameni reacționează la un pericol mortal, în cazul de față „pesta”.

Nu pot să-mi închei nota de față fără a-l menționa pe funcționarul Joseph Grand. El lucrează înverșunat la un roman. Dar nu reușește să scrie și să rescrie decît una și aceeași frază (absolut memorabilă!): „Într‑o frumoasă dimineaţă de mai, o zveltă amazoană, călare pe o somptuoasă iapă alezană, parcurgea, prin mijlocul florilor, aleile din Boulogne...” (p.274).

Citiți romanul lui Camus... Se pare că este momentul potrivit.
Profile Image for Guille.
758 reviews1,555 followers
January 17, 2021
Será que estoy hasta los mismísimos de este jodido virus por lo que la novela de Camus me ha parecido demasiada lluvia para una tierra ya excesivamente mojada. Sin duda es por eso que, pese a lo sugerente de su propuesta —es de esas novelas que parecen hechas para comentar en grupo hasta altas horas de la noche— en soledad, en esta situación, y quizá también en parte por el tono que eligió Camus, “el tono de un testigo objetivo”, no he disfrutado de su lectura lo que seguramente debiera.

Fue el propio Camus quién manifestó que su relato se tenía que interpretar como la forma en la que Francia se enfrentó al nazismo, y aunque llevar la analogía hasta el final sería forzar mucho las cosas y en otras ocasiones es directamente imposible, bien es verdad que el modo en el que los virus, orgánicos o ideológicos, van apareciendo, se van expandiendo y las reacciones que frente a ellos se adoptan tienen mucho en común, algo de lo que en los últimos tiempos estamos siendo testigos tristemente privilegiados.

También es cierto que no todas las reacciones que han hecho furor en los últimos meses aparecen en la novela. No hay, por ejemplo, ningún grupo negacionista, más allá de las autodefensivas negaciones iniciales de toda pandemia —Camus murió poco antes de que resurgiera con fuerza el negacionismo del holocausto—, ni siquiera hay quien acuse, sea cantante o no, a los illuminati o a algún otro grupo similar de su origen y/o aprovechamiento. La novela del autor francés es más tradicional en este sentido y solo recoge la habitual condena al pueblo pecador y al subsiguiente castigo divino. Tampoco aparecen en ella grupos que utilizaran la situación para sus fines políticos o sociales con la desfachatez que se ha hecho en nuestro caso. Por último, nunca habla Camus de lo que allí pasó con el papel higiénico, aunque sí menciona la escasez en las farmacias de las pastillas de menta, tan eficaces para eludir un contagio eventual, aunque no tanto como las “medallas protectoras o amuletos de San Roque”, muy de moda en aquellos momentos.

Bromas serias aparte, las que sí aparecen en la novela son otras muchas reacciones que están fantásticamente retratadas. Como la poca importancia que se le da en un principio al peligro, sobre todo si no nos afecta directamente, ya saben, algo así como lo que nos contaba Bertolt Brecht en su famoso poema; lo desprevenidos que nos coge y lo desamparados que nos sentimos cuando queremos reaccionar y ya no hay forma de frenarlo; lo pronto que se pasa de la precaución a la temeridad cuando la miseria aprieta. Por estas páginas caminan los que se sacrifican, los que luchan hasta que no tienen más fuerzas y aunque todo parezca inútil, los que se rinden, los que se resignan, los que se aíslan inútilmente, los que incluso se ven favorecidos por el fenómeno, los que consiguen reaccionar fríamente de forma eficaz frente a los que se abandonan al sentimentalismo impotente, los que no necesitan de dioses para solidarizarse con los hombres y los que ven en la peste un designio divino contra el que ni se puede ni se debe luchar.
“Hermanos míos… el amor de Dios es un amor difícil. Implica el abandono total de sí mismo y el desprecio de la propia persona. Pero sólo Él puede borrar el sufrimiento y la muerte de los niños, sólo Él puede hacerla necesaria [la peste], mas es imposible comprenderla y lo único que nos queda es quererla…Hermanos míos, ha llegado el momento en que es preciso creerlo todo o negarlo todo. Y ¿quién de entre vosotros se atrevería a negarlo todo?”
Una situación, esta de la peste, especialísima catalizadora de todas nuestras debilidades, vicios y también virtudes, en la que brillan con la misma fuerza la bondad y la brutal indiferencia, el sacrifico y la crueldad, el egoísmo y la abnegación, la osadía y la cobardía, la entrega y el individualismo…Porque así somos y más, pues dudo mucho que Camus acierte cuando dice eso de:
“El mal que existe en el mundo proviene casi siempre de la ignorancia, y la buena voluntad sin clarividencia puede ocasionar tantos desastres como la maldad. Los hombres son más bien buenos que malos… El alma del que mata es ciega y no hay verdadera bondad ni verdadero amor sin toda la clarividencia posible.”

Pero, dejando al lado esta predisposición optimista del autor hacia la bondad del hombre, hay otros aspectos en las que el tipo lo clava, como que “el hábito de la desesperación es peor que la desesperación misma” o que la felicidad necesita de los otros o que precisa de horizontes amplios y abiertos. Como siempre dice una buena amiga, es una necedad querer exprimir la vida viviendo como si fuera el último día pues de ser verdaderamente el último no tendríamos ni fuerzas ni deseo de seguir viviendo y mucho menos la capacidad de disfrutarlo. Por eso mantenemos a la muerte lo más alejada posible, por eso hacemos como si no fuera con nosotros, por eso solo el peligro de su cercanía acaba con toda felicidad y la búsqueda de placer se vuelve trágica.

Pero por encima de todas las cosas, Camus nos insta a no olvidar nunca que…
“…el bacilo de la peste no muere ni desaparece jamás, que puede permanecer durante decenios dormido en los muebles, en la ropa, que espera pacientemente en las alcobas, en las bodegas, en las maletas, los pañuelos y los papeles, y que puede llegar un día en que la peste, para desgracia y enseñanza de los hombres, despierte a sus ratas y las mande a morir en una ciudad dichosa

Todo lo que el hombre puede ganar al juego de la peste y de la vida es el conocimiento y el recuerdo. ¡Es posible que fuera a eso a lo que Tarrou le llamaba ganar la partida!”
Especialmente en estos tiempos en el que la memoria parece tan débil y el virus del autoritarismo, de la xenofobia y del racismo, de la aporofobia y la exigencia de los privilegios de clase, de los patrioterismos y nacionalismos que las ratas de los sótanos de la sociedad están volviendo a traer en masa a la superficie amenaza con devastarnos a todos. Ya saben:
“Siempre hay un momento en la historia en el que quien se atreve a decir que dos y dos son cuatro está condenado a muerte.”
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews870 followers
March 9, 2020
“But what does it mean, the plague? It's life, that's all.”

Evidently, it wasn't enough for me to read about global pandemics in the works of Kurt Vonnegut or Margaret Atwood. Albert Camus' The Plague isn't about a future apocalyptic world, but the quarantine and death by disease of citizens in the Algerian city of Oran. Camus' plague is more about the human condition and the existential crisis posed by the disease. Even if the plague also represents a Nazi occupation (as some claim), there is still an existential crisis in how one resists or resigns oneself to fate.

What struck me during this reading was how absorbed people were in the numbers. In The Plague, it's first about the number of dead rats, where in the city these dead rats have been found and then the number of people who have died. People are absorbed in this data even if they don't really know what it means, whether the risk (for them) is going up or down. There is a corresponding belief that the situation isn't really all that bad.

“In this respect, our townsfolk...disbelieved in pestilences. A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogey of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away.”

Those in Oran are slow to accept the severity of the plague as well as the need for a quarantine. The quarantine comes quickly, though, and I was intrigued by Camus' psychological portrait of those who are confined in the city (and sometimes further isolated from family and loved ones). From disbelief, those under quarantine begin to lose hope that the plague will ever end. Some try to escape their condition (the quarantine and the city) without success. Camus shows how they are cut off from their former life while facing the possibility of its end, "the complete break from all that life had meant to them."

Eventually, the disease subsides; however, the celebration that the town will open its gates is also mixed with the melancholy of what people have faced (before the time of forgetting and denial of the horror). What's really celebrated (by Camus at least) is the struggle and even the small bits of heroism of those engaged in the struggle.

"I realize we all have plague...Each of us has the plague within him."

Camus makes it clear that the plague is always with us, always ready to strike! 3.75 stars
Profile Image for Piyangie.
519 reviews419 followers
December 4, 2022
The Plague is yet another book that I liked, despite the inability to fully understand the underlying themes. I finally comprehend that it is not necessary to understand a story to like it. Strange but it is true. Now I'm sounding philosophical myself. It cannot be helped. Reading philosophical fiction back to back can have an impression on your thinking!

The story is about a plague that wraps the city of Oran, isolating the city completely from the outside world. Cut off from the world, parted from their loved ones, and faced with a deadly enemy, the people of Oran live with great anguish and in isolation. It is believed that the story was influenced by a cholera epidemic that saw the death of a large number of people in Oran in the mid-19th century. And it is also believed that metaphorically the story refers to the time of Nazi occupation in France and the French resistance against the Nazis. Whatever the case may be, to my understanding, the story is an account of human conduct in the face of a calamity. Choosing different characters and through them, Camus dwells on how people individually and collectively act when they are faced with a catastrophe. He also penetrates deep into the human mind and exposes the temporary and permanent changes in individual persons as well as collectively in the society that takes place in such a situation.

While Camus’s philosophical thoughts held my interest in the book, reading it was quite a struggle. There were many long and tedious paragraphs which at times wandered away from the topic, and there was no beautiful prose to cater to your heart. But, despite all this, I could not put it down. The story demanded my attention in such a way that all I could do was submit. I was deprived of the choice of whether to continue or not. All along I was burdened with an uneasy feeling that if I give up I would be guilty of doing something wrong (it sounds funny, I know).

Anyhow, I was glad that I read it through. I can even say that I liked it in my own way; philosophical and monotonous perhaps; but what does that matter, if it pleases you.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
March 19, 2020
3/19/20 As my village on the edge of a big city faces a "shelter-in" injunction, as Covid 19 steadily intensifies, I thought of this book. As I take my daily runs/walks people are friendlier, offering to help each other, barriers feel at times as if they are breaking down in certain ways here and there, and then when we went to the store there s the hoarding and some ugliness already. . . and it's just really beginning here.

The Plague: Resistance and Activism for This or Any Time

“I have no idea what's awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: There are sick people and they need curing”—Rieux, in Camus

I first read The Plague, the second in the trilogy with The Stranger, and The Fall, when I was eighteen. I had just read The Stranger. [Note, this is not that kind of trilogy; you can read each of them independently from each other; they don't have any intersecting characters. It's kind of a thematic trilogy from the novelist/philosopher Camus, a way of fictionalizing a set of ideas about the world]. It was 1971, and I was committed, after years of anti-war fervor, and the civil rights and women’s and the slowth growth of the environmental movement, to Doing Good in the world, to be a healer and not—to the extent I was able—a hurter (That Michael Jackson-Paul McCartney "I'm a lover, not a fighter" distinction). So many of us at my small religious college made commitments to teaching, to social work, public health. The following quote was a kind of simple banner for me, a flag for me to wave, if only in my own heart.

"All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it's up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences”—Tarrou, in Camus

And this: “After a short silence the doctor raised himself a little in his chair and asked if Tarrou had an idea of the path to follow for attaining peace.

'Yes,' he replied. 'The path of sympathy'"—Camus

So I initially read this in the context of late sixties and early seventies activism, within my hope for playing a small part in changing the world. But Camus also wrote this in his own context, as it was published in 1948, written in the aftermath of WWII, the Holocaust, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a kind of plague that stunned the planet, where you had to make decisions about what side you were on, and the choices were not always clear or easy. The plague in one sense is ennui, malaise, passivity, silence in the face of horror, and as Camus makes clear, we have to resist, we have to act.

Set in Oran, Algeria, this novel chronicles a fictional plague that hits the town of 200k; they seal its borders, and everyone has to figure out how to respond to it. It’s like Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief; there is denial, escapism, rage, terror, grief, despair, all of it. And several characters in the tale reveal different attitudes to the dying around them: Selfishness, the need to retreat into individual love, and so on, but there are some like Rieux and Tarrou who manage to commit to Doing Good in the face of death.

So The Plague in this book is both figurative and literal:

“But what does it mean, the plague? It's life, that's all”—Tarrou

But in the early-going of this occasion of reading, I was just a little annoyed at the Existentialist tract tone, the This-Is-An-Allegory-On-How-One-Must-Live, especially in the face of possible meaninglessness:

“Thus each of us had to be content to live only for the day, alone under the vast indifference of the sky”—Camus

I reminded myself that the writer was an Existential philosopher who was also writing novels and I worried he might be succumbing to abstraction. I compared it to The Brothers Karamazov which Fyodor Dostoevsky identified as a “cultural forum” on different perspectives on life and the search for meaning. But this range of perspectives I saw gradually emerge as well in The Plague in an inspiring and even thrilling away, through and within and against the inevitable march to widespread death. We come to care about the individuals in Rieux's world: His mother, Tarrou, Dr. Cattrel, Cottard, Rambert.

I was also reminded as I read of Cormac McCarthy’s dystopian novel, The Road where, facing the probable end of civilization, a father remains true to his commitment to his son and to principles of right and goodness. The Plague is also a dystopian novel where ethical questions about how one acts in the worst of times are crucial. And it’s not easy to be vigilant and committed to Doing Good in the face of greed and terrorism and devastation of various kinds:

“But what are a hundred million deaths? When one has served in a war, one hardly knows what a dead man is, after a while. And since a dead man has no substance unless one has actually seen him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination”—Camus

And that point seems so prescient as we now face "compassion fatigue" over the multiplying global crises of climate change, pandemics, endless wars, including a burgeoning refugee crisis. But in his own version of what we now face, post-WWII, a time in which we (one could argue) narrowly averted the end of humankind, Rieux keeps doing his work with the dying, working to find a cure; he's not a hero, not a saint, just one man holding that proverbial candle in the wind, rolling that boulder up the hill only to expect it to come down again:

“The language he used was that of a man who was sick and tired of the world he lived in—though he had much liking for his fellow men—and had resolved, for his part, to have no truck with injustice and compromises with the truth”—Camus

And this inspiring paragraph:

“And it was in the midst of shouts rolling against the terrace wall in massive waves that waxed in volume and duration, while cataracts of colored fire fell thicker through the darkness, that Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people; so that some memorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise”—Camus

As in The Road, the message is clear:

“A loveless world is a dead world”—Camus

So I also read this book in a contemporary context with all its turmoil and dangers. Yet another plague year. So I'm glad I read it, re-inspired (for the moment; it might fade!) to face the worst, to act in love when I can manage, to resist passivity and bitterness and silence, to be part of the commitment to healing movements, with others, to the very end. I’m no saint, that’s obvious, but I’ll do what I can. . .

(Though, in occasional moments I also consider just saying: What the hell, let's forget about all that, and have a drink! Eat, drink and be merry. . .
Profile Image for Rakhi Dalal.
208 reviews1,432 followers
October 7, 2014
I read “The Plague” right after reading “Swann’s Way”. Of course it wasn’t a deliberate move. But as I moved on, I realized that reading of ‘The Plague’ had rendered something quite remarkable in the way I realized and appreciated both works. Both works embody a reality. ‘Swann’s Way’ speaks of the reality that is long gone by and one wish to remember and cherish, whereas, ‘The Plague’ makes one more acutely aware of the bleakness of actual reality when imposed through an epidemic such as plague. This book speaks of the things that are, rather than things that were. Swann’s way had left me completely mesmerized, longing for the bygones. But The Plague left me assessing the actual approach which governs human beings when faced with discomforts in life.

The first thing that strikes in the work is the avoidance of acceptance of pestilence on the part of people of the town of Oran. Albert says,
“Pestilence is in fact very common, but we find it hard to believe in a pestilence when it descends upon us. There have been as many plagues in the world as there have been wars, yet plagues and wars always find people equally unprepared”. He further adds that because pestilence doesn’t have human dimensions, people refuse to believe it, thinking of it as a bad dream which would end soon. Perhaps people do not wish to accept its onset, for the reason that they have far greater faith in life itself. But when they have to, it results in utter misery on their part. The beauty of the work lies in the depiction of different approaches adopted by different individuals during plague. Whereas some people engage in serving the disease ridden, some try to make more money by smuggling liquor and other desired goods. Some people are melancholic, whereas some try to find happiness in between.

What I found further intriguing, were the words Camus employed to express the thoughts conveyed by the Priest, as regarding religion and God during Plague. Consider these two addresses delivered by Father Paneloux; one, at the beginning of the epidemic and the other, after months of suffering.

First one starts as:

“My brethren, a calamity has befallen you; my brethren, you have deserved it……Since the beginning of history, the scourge of God has brought down the proud and the blind beneath His feet. Think of this and fall on your knees.”

Second one ends as:

“My brethren, the love of God is a difficult love. It assumes a total abandonment of oneself and contempt for one’s person. But it alone can wipe away the suffering and death of children, it alone makes them necessary because it is impossible to understand such things, so we have no alternative except to desire them. This is the faith- cruel in the eyes of man, decisive in the eyes of God-which we must try to reach. We must try to make ourselves equal to this awful image”

In the first address, the Priest is so certain about the ways of God, but the second address clearly depicts the vagueness, as the consequence of severe sufferings due to pestilence. How little does religion/God matters when humanity faces such pandemic! Camus has skilfully captured the inner tumult which the Priest went through while coming to terms with the harsh reality. The reading was quite overpowering. It was further augmented by the reference to Bois de Boulogne at some places during the narration. Grand, an aid to Rieux, read the first line of his writing to Rieux. What was beautiful was the effect it created, producing in mind the consequence of anxiety and the desperation to escape.

Rieux was listening at the same time to a sort of vague humming sound in the town, as if replying to the whistling flail of the Plague. At this particular moment he had an extraordinary acute perception of the town spread out at his feet, the enclosed world that it formed and the dreadful cries stifled in its night. He heard Grand’s muffled voice: ‘On a fine morning in the month of May, an elegant woman was riding a magnificent sorrel mare through the flowered avenues of the Bois de Boulogne’

I think that Camus, who is touted as an absurdist for his writings on the subject, has very profoundly articulated the idea of absurd through this writing as well. The idea that he presented in The Myth of Sisyphus, that of the need to seek clarity and meaning within a world which offers neither, has been expressed in these lines for me.

“All that a man could win in the game of plague and life was knowledge and memory. Perhaps that was what Tarrou called winning the game!...But if that is what it meant to win the game, how hard it must be to live only with what one knows and what one remembers, and deprived of what one hopes.”
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 8 books16k followers
June 13, 2018
ألبير كامي

لن يقتنع الآخرون بحججك، بإخلاصك، بحقيقة معاناتك إلا بموتك


الحقيقة كالضوء، تعمي
الكذب كالشفق الجميل الذي يسحر كل موجود


أحب الحياة- هذه هي نقطة ضعفي
أحبها بشكل كبير لدرجة أني غير قادر على أن تخيل عكسها


لتكون سعيدا فإنه من الضروري أن لا تهتم كثيرا بالآخرين


الإنسان لا يمكن أن يكون متيقنا من أي شيء


نحن مخلوقات إستثنائية
كلنا نريد أن نحكم على شيء
كل واحد منا يصر على براءته مهما كله ذلك
ولو توجب عليه أن يتهم الجنس البشري بأسره والسماء أيضاً


الكثير من الناس يتسلقون على الصليب
فقط لكي بتم مشاهدتهم من مسافة أبعد
حتى وإن أجبروا على دهس من كان هناك لوقت طويل


مغطى بالرماد
أمزق شعري
وجهي تعلوه الخدوش
وبعينين حادتين أقف أمام الإنسانية جمعاء
ملخصاً عاري من دون أن أفقد التركيز في التأثير الذي أخلقه
وأقول أنا أحقر الأحقرين
وبعدها وبصورة تدريجية
أنتقل من الـ "أنا" إلى الـ "نحن


سأقيس السنوات التي تفصلني عن نهايتي
سأبحث عن أمثلة لأناس في مثل سني والذين قد ماتوا
ولقد عذبتني الفكرة أنني لن أملك وقتا كافيا لأنجر مهمتي


الإنسان يلعب دور الإنسان الفاني
وبعد بضع أسابيع لا يعرف إن كان بإمكانه الإستمرار إلى اليوم التالي


تعرف ما هو السحر؟
أن تحصل على الجواب بنعم من دون أن تسأل أسئلة واضحة

Profile Image for Mutasim Billah .
112 reviews193 followers
July 1, 2020
“All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it's up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences.”

The city of Oran

What is life like during an epidemic? The answer, truly, is that human beings eventually make a habit of everything given the time and space to cope. And eventually they get used to death, to mourn silently, to treat the new sick and to quarantine the ones they were in contact with as if it were a regular day's work. Because an epidemic normalizes the harshest and most inevitable truth of all: Death.

“But what does it mean, the plague? It's life, that's all.”

I really like this book, and I find it very relevant to the modern world, for the Plague is indeed life. For what is war, but another epidemic. For what is apartheid, and the many massacres in the name of ideology anything but just another face of the disease in our hearts. In a world where medical research grants are harder to fund compared to military arms deals, we need to really consider what the real epidemic is.

“What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well. It helps men to rise above themselves.”

The story portrays a fictional account from an unnamed narrator of a case of bubonic plague sweeping through the French Algerian city of Oran. Set some time in the 1940s, the novel gives an absurdist account of the powerlessness felt by the central characters when faced with an epidemic.
Profile Image for William2.
746 reviews2,970 followers
December 4, 2019
Second reading. This is an essential book. If there's a canon, The Plague belongs in it. A few things interested me this time through. Mostly the narrator's penchant, most effective, for writing about the town's collective mood. This device struck me as an improvement on the Soviet worker novels of the day (1947). The prose is not pumped up to triumphalist proportions. (There must be a scholar somewhere who's addresses this. I'll have to search LC.) Neither is there an idealized superman worker (the Stankhovite) but portraits of individuals with both flaws and great strengths. One wonders to what extent the novel had didactic intent. By that observation I don't mean to trivialize the book's elegant high style, its sheer brilliance, its profound insights into life, death and duty. This is an astonishing book and I highly recommended it.

P.S. A new translation of Exile and the Kingdom appeared in 2007. Can a new translation of The Plague be far behind? Let's hope not. This one was published in 1948!
Profile Image for Samra Yusuf.
60 reviews400 followers
September 16, 2019
Humankind is always been haunted by the idea of oblivion, the mere thought of being forgotten, the inkling of being swiped out of the face of earth, from memory, from hearts of those who were held close, strikes us down like an old rotten sapling, that didn’t see the good days of opulence, nor was given the sun enough, so couldn’t grow to become a tree. Death seems to be a farfetched long-talked idea, an unpleasant episode others went through and never happened to us, an equivocal dot of a thought swiftly burring under the teemed dirt of brains, and there are times, when death gets undressed of that dirt, arises naked and dances Rhythmically In tandem with you. This was the time when it happened!
Of all Camus’ novels, none described man’s confrontation and cohabitation with death so vividly and on such an epic scale as La Peste, translated as The Plague. Happy town of Oran at the west fronts of Algeria, encounters plague in a fine morning of mid-summer when people are indulged in petty goings-on as we today. Our narrator unfolds the events with a voice most detached yet complacent, Dr. Bernard Rieux is the survived witness and victim of what happened in later months, of the transition of people, of the heart crushing groans that became the interminable anthem of the town, I’ve never in my life seen someone fighting the already defeated battle with plague, their groins sagging with buboes, eyes flushed and fever bright, writhing with every breath that escapes from their body, their limped throats causing squeaks like rat, with an endless thirst that quenches never, until bellies are burst when swelled too much with liquid, lungs defy to cooperate and the already defeated battle comes to an end leaving a body cold and open in every pore, this is not the end we want for us, for our loved ones, day after day, after day, until the anger turns into agony and agony weds with despair, giving birth to an endless indifference. This is the story of those who were left at the other side of gate, and when gate was opened, people were not what they were expected to be after this long.They changed, for better or worse.
“In the early days, when they thought this epidemic was much like other epidemics, religion held its ground. But once these people realized their instant peril, they gave their thoughts to pleasure. And all the hideous fears that stamp their faces in the daytime are transformed in the fiery, dusty nightfall into a sort of hectic exaltation, an unkempt freedom fevering their blood.”
God is the luxury of better days, a fair whether friend, a source of comfort for the relentless hearts, a good-times enthralling idea that breeds on the soil of one’s soul, and the certitude of hereafter a pornographic clip that wets our insides for a timely pleasure, tickling our sensitive places with the sensuousness of more to come, a pigeon’s closing of eyes on seeing the cat right in front of him, but when faced with reality, first thing that crumbles down like a shred of glass is the comfort feel of that eternal reward in exchange of the hell we spend called life, you can’t entertain the thought of some supernatural deity sitting in sky looking down at masses in silence anymore, counting the time of judgment to come, while they writhe in pain indescribable and call for him only to receive a ceaseless silence in response, there’s something gravely wrong with god theory, it has to be.
Again and again, Camus invokes some condition of well-being that has been forfeited, because the pestilence has taken hold. Cut off in the plague city, the people's moorings of past loves and values are all lost: "They experienced the deep suffering of all prisoners and all exiles, which is to live with a memory which serves no purpose." Sequestered and sullied, the inhabitants suffer the breaking of all social bonds; all time becomes time present and erases hope (in the future) and love (with its connectedness to the past). But the central puzzle Camus worries at comes towards the end of the novel, with Tarrou's celebrated question, "Can one be a saint without God?" To which Dr Rieux responds, "Heroism and sanctity don't really appeal to me . . . What interests me is - being a man."..
Profile Image for Yegane.
122 reviews199 followers
February 23, 2020
طاعونِ عزیز!
این روزها به تو فکر میکنم.
به تویی که دو سال پیش برایِ من اسپویل شدی و نیمه رهایَت کردم.
به مَردی فکر می‌کنم که کنسروهایِ زیادی را جمع کرده بود و در اثر طاعون مُرد و کنسروهایش احتمالاً به زندگانی رسید که قطعاً نفرینش می‌کنند.
اینجا، ایران ، کرونا تمام زندگیمان را در بر گرفته، و امروز میفهمم تو را.
اینجا هم احتمالاً مردم کنسرو که نه، اما ماسک و شوینده در خانه‌هایشان انبار می‌ک��ند.
اینجا، همه‌ی ما ترسیده‌ایم.
طاعونِ عزیز!
روزهایی که می‌خواندَمَت در جست‌وجوی تمثیلی بودم از ملتی با مشکلی که تک‌تک افرادش را فرا گرفته اما امروز که به تو فکر می‌کنم خودم هم جزئی از همان ملت طاعون گرفته‌ام.
امروز ، جهان غرق کروناست، چین و ایران غرق‌تر.
امروز که اینجا می‌نویسم به آینده‌ی گنگ و نامعلومم می‌نگرم.
نهایتاً چند سال بعد، احتمالاً کرونا ریشه‌کن خواهد شد و مردم آینده ،ما را خواهد خواند. اما تا وقتی طاعونی زندگیِ‌شان را فرا نگیرد، نمی‌فهمند طاعون را...
این روزها حقیقتاً می‌ترسم.
ترسم از کرونا شبیه به سرطان نیست.
وقتی هر روز با کسانی سر و کار داری که ساعت‌ها در بیمارستان هستند علاوه بر ترس از بیماری، ترس از انتقال بیماری به دیگران داری و این بدترین جنبه بیماری‌های مسری است.
امروز چهارم اسفند نودوهشت این ریویو را می‌نویسم و اینجا ثبت خواهد شد.
شاید چندین سال بعد کسی ریویو امروز مرا بخواند پس لازم بود شرایط امروزمان را بنویسم.
Profile Image for Jr Bacdayan.
211 reviews1,683 followers
May 4, 2020
A few years ago, back when I was a freshman in University, I read and reviewed The Stranger by Albert Camus. Being quite the optimistic and impressionable young lad that I was, the resolute bleakness of the book left a bad taste in my mouth. I was then filled with eagerness and vigor for life stemming from this new found independence afforded by higher education. I wanted no part of the apathetic darkness enshrouding Mersault and rejected any shred of wisdom the book presented. I called it poison. You can still read that review, I have not ommitted or changed anything. However if I was to read it as I am now, I am inclined to write a different opinion. That boy is long gone, instead here writing is a man resigned to the bitterness he has since learned to appreciate.

Life has never tasted as bitter as it does presently. Tragedy is upon us. A pandemic has struck the world killing thousands, infecting millions, and testing the limits of modern civilization as we know it. The Plague by Albert Camus basically explores this same concept but in a smaller scale with his scope contained in a coastal town called Oran.

The Bubonic Plague is carried into the unsuspecting town by hosts of infected rats who literally fill the place with thousands of decaying rodent carcasses scaterred throughout. From here starts the silent but methodical hands of infection and illness. Death starts to move around leaving despair and grief in its wake. And finally the town realizes the gravity of their alarming situation. The response of Oran ironically does not really differ from how modern governments reacted to the havoc of COVID-19. And as with doomed places, Oran was isolated, placed under quarantine, with everyone inside imprisoned indefinitely.

When you expose a collection of individuals to a certain phenomenon you can always expect varied reaction. No two individuals will produce exactly identical reactions to one stimulus, which is in this case the deathly plague. So Camus presents us with five different individuals we follow throughout the period of containment.

Rambert, Tarrou, Paneloux, Rieux, and Cottard represent five different reactions to the plague that we examine. The journalist Rambert is an outsider visiting to write an article when the plague hits and gates of the town closes. Trapped inside his only desire is to get out and escape via any means. The driving force behind his existence is a deep passion to reunite with his beloved wife. Next is the mysterious tourist Tarrou who was vacationing when the panic starts. An objective outsider, his reaction to the plague is anchored on his philosophical views placing value on human life and denouncing any form of support or allowances for the taking of it. He volunteers to create a response team because of his personal philosophy. Third is the Priest Paneloux. Initially he delivers a scathing sermon blaming human sinfulness as cause of this suffering but slowly his views change from punishment, he develops a more hopeful stance and gradually sees the plague as a test of faith. Then we have Doctor Rieux who is among the first to discover the presence of the plague. His raison d'etre and his leadership in the medical response to the plague rooted in a moral optimism. He fights the plague, treats people because he must, it is the only course of action for a human being. Finally we have the entrepreneur Cottard who proves to be an anomaly. Happiest when the plague is at its peak he is an opportunist who takes advantage of the plague for his personal enrichment. Cottard wishes for the plague to last all eternity and when it ends is beaten to death after he fails to cope driven to insanity. Each represent a unique area of existence that drive their actions from romantic, philosophical, spiritual, humanist, and economic. Camus allows us to observe these people that have their centers based on the different points of existence in order to give a holistic study to the human condition in troubled times like these.

The Plague by Albert Camus is an intelligent and deeply affecting caricature of human integrity in the face of death. Camus reminds us that a plague does not consider race, sexuality, religion, politics, or wealth but only acknowledges one species trying not to become extinct. A faithful narrator asks us only to consider that we are human beings.

I have no idea what's awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing."

COVID-19 is ravaging the world at this present moment. I do not know where you are or what has already happened to you. But I do hope in these troubled times that you are safe, that you have good health, and more importantly that you feel the warmth of humanity who has already done so much for each other.

We are getting through this.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,547 followers
October 20, 2020
One of the first books of modern literature I read in high school, The Plague (La Peste) is absolutely chilling and incredibly written. Camus uses a dry tone (somewhat like Cormac McCarthy's) and a nearly emotionless narrator to describe the catastrophe in Oran, Algeria. A classic and a monumental work of existentialism, it is perhaps a valid thing to read with Drumpf likely to kill research grants to public foundations for researching cures for diseases. It is interesting to recall that 19 MILLION people died in the US in 1918-1919 due to Spanish influenza so this is not something that is limited to far away distant Africa but could arrive anywhere. For more on the spread of disease, check out Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (I reviewed it here on GR).

Funny, that paragraph above was written back in 2017 before COVID...
As for La Peste, I just re-read it and was blown away again. The town of Oran in Algeria did actually suffer the bubonic plague, but in the 1700s and 1800s. In the 1940s, when the novel is set, the population was about 200,000. A rough calculation based on the numbers in the book leads me to think that there were between 30k and 50k deaths between April and the following January, so probably about 1/4 of the population. At the beginning of the outbreak, the protagonist Dr. Rieux has an argument with another most equivocating Dr Richard and the prefer about whether they are facing the plague or something else. His argument was that, regardless of what you call it, 50% of the town will be dead if you don't do anything. It was both humorous (a satire about administrations and language) and terrifying. In fact, many of the images in the book (particularly the midnight tramways loaded with corpses headed to the crematorium) were references to the Shoah. There was also an impassioned discourse against capital punishment from one of the other major characters which was quite moving.

In high school, I read the Stuart Gilbert translation and found it great. Now that I am fluent in French, this reading was of the original. Gilbert was also Joyce’s choice for translating Ulysses into French interestingly enough. I have not read the more recent translation by Robin Buss. In any case, the original French has some great turns of phrase and descriptive passages that make it incontestably one of the monuments of 20th century literature.

I’ll compare the two with passages from the end of the novel.
Original Folio Edition:
On ne peut pas toujours tendre sa volonté et toujours se raidir, et c’est un bonheur que de délier enfin, dans l’effusion, cette gerbe de forces tressées pour la lutte. (p. 255)
Vintage Stuart Translation:
No man can live on the stretch all the time, with his energy and will-power strained to the breaking-point, and it is a joy to be able to relax at last and loosen nerves that were braced for the fight. (p. 261)
The English translation captures the image at the end of relaxing after a fight, but the French original is more poetic with is imagery of a rope being undone. Also, the first part of the original talks about will-power and being stressed to the point of rigidity, the translation to “energy” doesn’t quite match the image of “se raidir”. In an unashamed political note, I hope that I have the feeling Camus describes on the 4th of November 2020...

At the very end, the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; [...] it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-closets; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city. (p. 287 - Vintage)

le bacille de la peste ne meurent ni ne disparaît jamais; qu’il peut rester pendant des dizaines d’années endormi dans les meubles et le linge, qu’il attend patiemment dans les chambres, les caves, les malles, les mouchoirs, et les paperasses, et que, peut-être, le jour viendrait où, pour le malheur et l’enseignement des hommes, la peste réveillerait ses rats et les enverrait mourir dans une cité heureuse. (p. 279)

Between these two, the differences are more subtle. Camus talks of things “linge”, “mouchoirs”, “paperasses” whereas Gilbert talks of places “linen-chests”, “cellars”, “bookshelves”. I think that Camus was trying to emphasize that the things in our daily lives can carry the virus not so much as the places we live. As for the final image of the rats coming back, it reminds one strongly of the story of the Pied Piper. Also, the phrase “pour le malheur et l’enseignement des hommes” seems to me to refer back to Paneloux’s two sermons about the plague where he tries to say first that it is God’s judgement on the town and after witnessing the horrific death of Othon’s son, he says it is done for our learning, or “enseignment”. I find this interesting because Camus takes a more ambiguous position here than I had initially thought. The English translation using the word “enlightenment” is not really the right work in my opinion, it is more about admonition I think than enlightenment.

Maybe someone reading this can let me know how Buss dealt with these two passages.
Profile Image for Poliwalk.
20 reviews
October 2, 2007
This book has been one of the most influential in my life. Camus uses the premise of a town infected by the plague and quarantined from the rest of the world to explore some of the great philosophical questions. I find his exploration of religion very astute--that God is either not able to prevent evil and is thus not omnipotent or that God is all powerful and thus condones evil. Either option to Camus is a God not worthy of worship.

Many people read The Stranger and think Camus is a pessimist, that he has taken the thought experiment that everything is absurd to the extreme and believes in nothing. The Plague was written after The Stranger and is a shining example of how optimistic Camus really was. He may not believe in God or higher meaning but he and his characters cannot deny their love for humanity, nature and the need to help others. The scene of the two friends swimming still sticks in my mind as the perfect example of this.

Overall, this book has meant a lot to me and it may resonate with others searching for a philosophy that is not derived from religion or dogmas. It is a powerful story with plenty of things to keep you thinking long past the last page.
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