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Reading The Plague by Albert Camus in the Time of Covid-19



Good idea or bad idea?

It seems the reading world is currently divided between those who embrace Virus/Post Apocalyptic/ Dystopian/Pandemic fiction and those who need to read something that takes them away from the real world. There is no right or wrong decision. You may have guessed that I am one of those readers embracing the former type of book, don’t ask me why I am not sure even I know the answer to that.

For those not familiar with The Plague by Albert Camus a brief synopsis would be the world we are living in now but limited to a town in Algeria with possible Bubonic Plague instead of a Coronavirus.

Seriously this book is so much like my reality at the moment that I think Camus may have been able to see into the future. For those blaming 2020 on Stephen King I personally think Albert Camus is an equally strong contender.

According to GR I had previously read this book and rated it 3 Stars. I personally had no recollection of having read it and thought it must have been a bug when I imported my library but then I started reading the copy on my Kindle and low and behold things were already highlighted…

Having re-read (although it felt like the first read) this in today’s world while under lockdown I have to give this 5 Stars. Camus you wrote my life. I liked the way the book was about people and how they deal with the complete change of life that they are suddenly thrown into. Boy did he hit the nail on the head. We see the good and the bad, the kindness and compassion as well as the selfish need to escape and even the blasé it won’t happen to me attitudes of today reflected by the various characters.

If you are questioning how accurately this book capture the Covid-19 crisis here are a few quotes that really hit home:

“The townspeople were advised to practice extreme cleanliness”

“There was talk of requisitioning a school and opening an auxiliary hospital”

“Proclaim a state of plague stop close the town”

“Also, no one in the town had any idea of the average weekly death rate in ordinary times. The population of the town was about two hundred thousand. There was no knowing if the present death rate were really so abnormal. This is, in fact, the kind of statistics that nobody ever troubles much about, notwithstanding that its interest is obvious. The public lacked, in short, standards of comparison.”

“indeed the death-graph was rising less steeply. Only they lacked the adequate means of coping with the disease.”

“The plague was no respecter of persons and under its despotic rule everyone from the warden down to the humblest delinquent, was under sentence”

“The fact that the graph after its long rising curve had flattened out seemed to many…reassuring”

And a positive thought for the future Camus says we will get back to normality.

“naturally our fellow citizens’ strongest desire was, and would be, to behave as if nothing had changed”

Personally I would recommend that everyone reads this book. I will leave it up to you to decide if you want to read it now or once the pandemic is over.

Have you read this? What did you think? Would you read this in our current world situation?

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I read this a long time ago, it was really interesting but also horrifying. I don’t remember many details but the part where people are just realizing how bad things are stuck with me the longest. Who would have thought that we will actually be able to compare this book to our own experiences.


    May 3, 2020

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