Camus’ The Plague

Not a single person I once was friends with back in Canada has changed their political position in all the years since I’ve known them, not a single one, and I’ve known them all for more than fifty years. It really is weird. Most I am happy to see when I go home but we seldom discuss politics; some I can still talk politics with but it is always through gritted teeth (theirs) and I never bring politics up. Some I do not bother seeing when I am there and why I avoid them is always for political reasons. And not one of them I see more frequently than once every two years since I hardly ever get back. As I say, weird. Yet why dealing with the coronavirus is a political issue is hard to explain, but it is. The virus will never disappear, it will always mutate, and I do not expect us to stay in lockdown forever. And while perhaps I should be, I am not frightened by it even though I am in the high-danger zone according to age and “co-morbidities” and it may get me yet.

Just finished Albert Camus’ The Plague. It was written in the 1940s as a political allegory about radical political views being akin to a virus. Today it reads just like a story about a plague-ridden population put into lockdown. The political allegory is near invisible. The horrors of an epidemic are made very clear.

The point of the story is to use the virus as a metaphor for totalitarian political repression. The irony today is that actual existing political leaders have used the spectre of a virus as a means to repress populations all around the world by arguing they have done so to protect them.

As for The Plague, it is only a story:

Oran was decimated by the bubonic plague in 1556 and 1678, but all later outbreaks (in 1921 – 185 cases, 1931 – 76 cases, and 1944 – 95 cases) were very far from the scale of the epidemic described in the novel.

Brilliantly written and well worth reading, especially now.

1 thought on “Camus’ The Plague

  1. Pingback: Camus’ The Plague - The Rabbit Hole

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