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The Plague by Albert Camus
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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.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 18, 2011 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Lynn (last edited Dec 11, 2014 06:41PM) (new)

Lynn Omg, I love the plague doctor image! Where did that come from? It seems familiar but I'm old and forgetful.


message 2: by Lyn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lyn I find just about all my images on IMGUR, thanks Lynn


message 3: by Lyn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lyn Ha! Thanks Kavita


message 4: by Jose (new) - added it

Jose Moa Great and deep review Lyn


message 5: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Van Valer “A laugh riot” is just how I portrayed The Plague in a college essay. The professor didn’t get it. All I remember from the book is that it was very descriptive and it taught me a lot about “show, don’t tell.” Much Time has passed since I read it. I should give it another look.


message 6: by Lyn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lyn Ha! Great minds think alike and I imagine the crowd here on GR is far more forgiving and accepting of levity than a professor.


David Schaafsma I absolve you of the sin of levity--Professor Schaafsma


message 8: by Randy (new) - added it

Randy "Obscure functionaries cultivating harmless eccentricities", I believe is a quote from this.
It is claimed that Camus' "The Plague" is based, in concept, on Daniel Defoe's "Journal of the Plague Year", a 1722 fictionalized memoir of London's 1665 bubonic plague, giving how-to-survive advice, 17th century public health info, and
*philosophical speculation about the outbreak's causes.


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