The Plague

Albert Camus, The Plague (New York: Vintage Books, 1991 edition.)

Camus - The Plague
I guess that a re-visiting of Albert Camus needs a reading of The Plague to be complete. Like other Camus novels, it is a mastery of character-building. The story of a small town isolated by an outbreak of the plague is the story of Dr. Bernard Rieux and the people that he meets as he strives to survive, to provide health care in the midst of devastating death and disease, and to maintain some sense of a normal life in the midst of most abnormal circumstances.

Because Dr. Rieux is believable, the entire story becomes believable, even the type of isolation, which in reality must be impossible. It works somehow in the story and the story and its characters make the suspension of disbelief work very well.

It is, in a way, a more mature work that Camus’ earlier novels. It shows that there is meaning and purpose forged in a world where the understanding of ultimate meaning and ultimate purpose may be beyond the grasp of most of the people. In a sense this existentialist novel makes a reasonable case against existentialism. It is a dynamic I don’t think I appreciated when reading Camus earlier in my life.

A return to the classics is often an enlightening journey and I have enjoyed my adventures in Camus.