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The Plague by Albert Camus
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The Plague (original 1947; edition 2011)

by Albert Camus

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11,244113247 (3.95)2 / 369
Member:fuzzi
Title:The Plague
Authors:Albert Camus
Info:Fontal Lobe Publishing (2011), Paperback, 220 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Couldn't Finish
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The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)

1001 (57) 1001 books (58) 20th century (203) 20th century literature (36) absurdism (46) Algeria (124) allegory (38) Camus (158) classic (191) classics (146) death (40) disease (67) epidemic (50) existentialism (495) fiction (1,452) France (178) French (434) French fiction (80) French literature (392) literature (413) Nobel (37) Nobel Prize (55) novel (298) philosophy (305) plague (131) read (110) Roman (116) to-read (116) translation (71) unread (80)
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English (105)  German (2)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (113)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
Enjoyed some but for the most part I found it long-winded. I feel I probably missed what I was supposed to be getting, the sky didn't open up, no aha! moments but I admit near the end I was starting to skim just to finish it. Didn't understand the point of Tarrou's journal or the big deal who the narrator of the story turns out to be (the reader finds out at the very end). Glad I finally read Camus but this will be the last. ( )
  flippinpages | Apr 18, 2014 |
The account of life in a town during the period of the Plague. Graphic, moving and an excellent piece of literature from the king of existentialism. ( )
  Phoenixangelfire | Apr 6, 2014 |
I read The Plague with interest but not with awe, which is to say, I enjoyed it immensely without loving it. Camus is methodical and even-tempered and his so-called Absurdist views of the human condition are anything but. A lot of rats in this one though, so be prepared. ( )
  alienhard | Mar 26, 2014 |
Overall I enjoyed this book - it's true that there were times where the author was too prolix, but the story itself was quite good. Definitely a novel of man v. nature and the suffering of man. Worth the read.

31 May: Despite two separate people who didn't enjoy this book, I'm finding it quite good. It reminds me of Faulkner, only in the way that I know I would understand it better if I read it with a group and could discuss and tease out the issues.

I'm really lost on the importance of Grand and his interminable struggle to write the perfect sentence about the horsewoman. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
I’ve actually read something by Camus. Oooh Get me! Plus, I actually think it is really rather good. I’ve wanted to read Camus for some time, no, really, I have. I have been somewhat intimidated by the name “Camus” – the absurdist, existential, philosopher and award winning writer whom many intellectuals have analysed, critiqued and philosophised over for years. I bit the bullet and went for it.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the story and there are enough reviews and literary critiques online to fill a million plague infested towns. I won’t be going down that route. I’ll only embarrass myself. But, just in case you have lived in a concrete shoe for many years, The Plague is, as one would expect, about a plague taking over a town which ultimately leads to its’ complete isolation and separation from the rest of the world. This town is Oman in Algiers which is said to have suffered the plague in the 16th and 17th centuries. This is set in the 1940′s and Camus wrote the book with the intent that it would also be an allegory for the French Resistance during the occupation by the Nazi’s.

The story is told in five parts by an anonymous narrator who provides his account of the events as they unfold. The account follows the experiences of the town as it’s inhabitants endure the various stages of the plague. Ultimately, it’s a story about the human condition relating to isolation, separation and death. Underlying the story is Camus own belief that as humans we have a profound resilience and adaptability which enables us to cope with most of the crap which is thrown at us – when faced with exile and the threat of death. Camus constantly reminds us about the depth of isolation and separation people are subject to as a consequence of being quarantined from those they love and the outside world. In describing the habits of the townspeople at moments of such exile, the narrator tells us;

“Hostile to the past, impatient of the present, and cheated of the future, we were much like those whom men’s justice, or hatred, forces to live behind prison bars”(p.62).

Camus is a wonderful writer, prone to completing many beautiful passages which conjure up the atmosphere, sights, sounds of any particular setting and some which seek to have an alternative meaning. It’s also a book which confuses me a little. I would imagine that a story about a town being cut off from the rest of the world because of an epidemic which means many people suffer a painful and gruesome death would be least be sensational with a great sense of panic and chaos. Camus does not write in such a way. As beautiful and sparkling as some of the passages are, the story is often told in a matter of fact way and there are equally mundane passages and, dare I say it, there were a few occasions where I did feel a little…bored… However, these were few and far between. Camus would then raise the bar with the most delicate touch in describing something so simple yet beautiful. One of my favourite parts is the moment when two of the main characters are sitting on a roof terrace, getting some brief respite from their relentless care of the dying. For the first time they open up and let down their defenses. The sounds, sights and senses lift off the page as Camus describes the almost idyllic setting amidst a town gripped by plague.

“In a sky swept crystal clear by the night wind, the stars showed like silver flakes, tarnished now and again by the yellow gleam of the revolving light. Perfumes of spice and warm stone were wafted on the breeze. Everything was very still” (p.200).

How I wish I could write like that!

As we come to the end of the book the narrator, who so far has remained anonymous, takes away the cloak and reveals himself. Still speaking in the third person, he lets us know that his decision to remain anonymous whilst recounting the tale has been done purposely in order that the tale be told more objectively and to enable him to speak for the town. He says -

“To be an honest witness, it was for him to confine himself mainly to what people did or said and what could be gleaned from documents. Regarding his personal troubles and his long suspense, his duty was to hold his peace…. Whenever tempted to add his personal note to the myriad of voices of the plague-stricken, he was deterred by the thought that not one of his sufferings but was common to all the others and that in a world where sorrow is so often lonely was an advantage. Thus, decidedly, it was up to him to speak for all” (p.246).

So, I have read Camus. I can’t say it’s changed my life and there were a couple of occasions where it had felt like I had been reading the book for months. However, the smattering of beautiful passages more than made up for the times where I did become distracted. Additionally, I have gone on to read more about Camus, his philosophies and views on life and think he must have been a pretty cool chap to know. I’ll certainly pick up some more of his work in the future. ( )
6 vote lilywren | Feb 14, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Camus, Albertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Corsari, WillyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, StuartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'It is as reasonable to represent one kind of imprisonment by another, as it is to represent anything that really exists by that which exists not! -' ('Robinson Crusoe's preface' to the third volume of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe).
Dedication
First words
The unusual events described in this chronicle occurred in 194- at Oran.
Les curieux événements qui font le sujet de cette chronique se sont produits en 194., à Oran.
Le matin du 16 avril, le docteur Bernard Rieux sortit de son cabinet et buta sur un rat mort, au milieu du palier
Quotations
"Oran, however, seems to be a town without intimations; in other words, completely modern."
The distinction can be made between men and, for example, dogs; men’s deaths are checked and entered up.
"They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences."
"In normal times all of us know, whether consciously or not, that there is no love which can't be bettered; nevertheless we reconcile ourselves more or less easily to the fact that ours has never risen above the average."
"You'd almost think they expected to be given medals for it. But what does that mean—'plague'? Just life, no more than that."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679720219, Paperback)

The Nobel prize-winning Albert Camus, who died in 1960, could not have known how grimly current his existentialist novel of epidemic and death would remain. Set in Algeria, in northern Africa, The Plague is a powerful study of human life and its meaning in the face of a deadly virus that sweeps dispassionately through the city, taking a vast percentage of the population with it.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:44 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Chaos prevails when the bubonic plague strikes the Algerian coastal city of Oran. A haunting tale of human resilience in the face of unrelieved horror, Camus' novel about a bubonic plague ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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