“The Plague”, on the eye of philosophical readers.

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Composed in 1948 by Albert Camus, The Plague is a study of human habit in a crisis. It tells the story of medical workers finding solidarity in their labour when Oran, an Algerian city, is swept by a plague. Maria Warner, a journalist of The guardian newspaper, examinates the themes of The Plague- terror, poison, cruel and tormented deaths, heroic struggle, acquiescence, alliance – and concludes saying that this story is shown from every angle through various protagonists, from the patient, inarticulate, generous-hearted Joseph Grand, to the brooding, conflicted journalist Jean Tarrou who is said to be a kind of Camus’ self-portrait.

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There are a number of questions relating to the human condition. “One hardly knows what a dead man is, after a while,” Camus writes. “And since a dead man has no substance unless one has actually seen him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination.” As revealed by the blogger Petronmb, Camus wrote it as a resistance fighter to Nazism because they created similar effects in destruction of the humans.

Michael Schaub, meanwhile, compares that situation with nowadays’ related to Ebola. As this writer said: “For months now the Ebola virus has been wreaking havoc in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. More than 700 people have died, and it seems that doctors are near-powerless to help. With the threat of the disease tearing communities apart, it’s hard not to think of a legendary novel from almost 70 years ago. Of course a parallel between plague and Ebola is inevitable, the Oran microcosm fully applicable to a world in which men were killed off like flies, so, as might be expected from Camus, his primary subject in terms of the phenomenon of plague throughout the centuries is secondary to the correlative phenomenon of Ebola”.

Petronmb’s opinion is that the nature of reality and the cosmos is “absurd” in the sense of incomprehensible, including human potentials as part of that indecipherable complexity. This perspective of life is clearly defined in Camus’ books. The blogger Tony Judt describes Camus as an obscure Algerian novelist who had become a national figure. He says that Camus is as a hero of the intellectual Resistance. Besides, Camus was the editor of Combat which was a daily paper born in clandestinity and hugely influential in the postwar years. That is why, Judt extols Camus to the category of the icon for a new generation of French. 

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As it is explained in SparkNotes’ blog, Camus’ philosophy is an amalgam of existentialism and humanism. An atheist, Camus did not believe that death, suffering, and human existence had any intrinsic moral or rational meaning. That is why Camus did not believe in God or an afterlife. He said that human beings live under a completely absurd death sentence. However, Camus believed that people were able to give their lives meaning. In that blog, Camus’ philosophy is explained with a clearness that evidences what is the most meaningful action within the context of Camus’ philosophy: to choose to fight death and suffering.

Some readers, as the case of Media Consommé, think that The Plague amplify the simple story of The Stranger. It is said to be a fantastic book in which it is pleasure to see those themes through a story containing characters one can admire. In this blog, the novel is presented as an enjoyable read. Finally, what it is important to take into account is what is the principal goal of Camus which is to make the reader gradually assimilate the information he presence, so as form his or her own opinion in regards to what is true and what is right, if either exist in this world.

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References:

JUDT, T, “On The Plague”, The New York Review of Books, (2001). (http://dactylreview.com/2013/05/02/the-plague-by-albert-camus/)

MEDIA CONSOMMÉ, “The Plague by Albert Camus review”, Media Consommé: Consume Media. Tasty, Tasty Media, (2011). (https://mediaconsomme.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/the-plague-by-albert-camus-review/)

PETRONMB, “The Plague by Albert Camus”, Dactyl Review: dedicated solely to literary fiction, created by and for the literary fiction community, (2013). (http://dactylreview.com/2013/05/02/the-plague-by-albert-camus/)

SCHAUB, M, “Albert Camus And The Search For Meaning In The Midst Of Ebola”, NPR Books, (2014). (http://www.npr.org/2014/08/02/337134660/albert-camus-and-the-search-for-meaning-in-the-midst-of-ebola)

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Plague”. (2014).  (http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/plague/)

WARNER, M, “To be a man”, The Guardian: Winner of the pulitzer prize, (2003). (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/apr/26/classics.albertcamus)

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3 thoughts on ““The Plague”, on the eye of philosophical readers.

  1. In my review of Camus’ The Plague (found at http://dactylreview.com/2013/05/02/the-plague-by-albert-camus/) I attempt to interpret Camus’ philosophical position as an “absurdist.” This term needs careful definition. It doesn’t mean “silly” or “ridiculous” but that the nature of the cosmos is incomprehensible, or unknowable. Camus’ position is we do not and cannot know it, since it is too vast and mysterious.

    Camus used the term “the absurd” to describe this ignorance, implying that meanings as with ascribing the nature of the cosmos to “God” are absurd, or meaningless. The essential meaninglessness of the cosmos is where Camus begins, leading to the next step which is, due to that absurdity or meaninglessness, each human must be responsible to create his/her own meaning. His heroes such as Dr. Rieux in The Plague represent this position, with “meaning” including a responsibility for right behavior, moral behavior, responsibility to humanity.

    Your writing above misinterprets my essay in saying that in my opinion the nature of the cosmos is the absurd, as described above. No, that’s not my opinion. That is Camus’ view, with the implications for right behavior as just laid out. In his novel The Stranger his character Meursault at first responds the wrong way to the essential condition of the absurd in the cosmos by not giving a damn about anything but his own pleasures and wishes, including senseless murders. He is just beginning to wake up to the insight that in view of the essential absurdity, or irrationality, of the cosmos, symbolized in The Stranger by his court trial, the human must respond to CREATE meaning himself or herself. But in his case it is too late and he is executed.

    As a moralist as well as philosopher and novelist, Camus hoped it was not too late for humans to wake up, as with Meursault, and stop adding to the irrational and absurd (not to exclude stupidity) nature of human affairs. Unfortunately, as we see at this time especially, his view had little effect (he died in 1960) on human behavior. Camus’ views on right behavior in view of what humans are up against he also called “the burden of freedom.”

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  2. In my review of Camus’ The Plague (found at http://dactylreview.com/2013/05/02/the-plague-by-albert-camus/) I attempt to interpret Camus’ philosophical position as an “absurdist.” This term needs careful definition. It doesn’t mean “silly” or “ridiculous” but that the nature of the cosmos is incomprehensible, or unknowable. Camus’ position is we do not and cannot know it, since it is too vast and mysterious.

    Camus used the term “the absurd” to describe this ignorance, implying that meanings as with ascribing the nature of the cosmos to “God” are absurd, or meaningless. The essential meaninglessness of the cosmos is where Camus begins, leading to the next step which is, due to that absurdity or meaninglessness, each human must be responsible to create his/her own meaning. His heroes such as Dr. Rieux in The Plague represent this position, with “meaning” including a responsibility for right behavior, moral behavior, responsibility to humanity.

    Your writing above misinterprets my essay in saying that in my opinion the nature of the cosmos is the absurd, as described above. No, that’s not my opinion. That is Camus’ view, with the implications for right behavior as just laid out. In his novel The Stranger his character Meursault at first responds the wrong way to the essential condition of the absurd in the cosmos by not giving a damn about anything but his own pleasures and wishes, including senseless murders. He is just beginning to wake up to the insight that in view of the essential absurdity, or irrationality, of the cosmos, symbolized in The Stranger by his court trial, the human must respond to CREATE meaning himself or herself. But in his case it is too late and he is executed.

    As a moralist as well as philosopher and novelist, Camus hoped it was not too late for humans to wake up, as with Meursault, and stop adding to the irrational and absurd (not to exclude stupidity) nature of human affairs. Unfortunately, as we see at this time especially, his view had little effect (he died in 1960) on human behavior. Camus’ views on right behavior in view of what humans are up against he also called “the burden of freedom.”

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  3. Thanks for your clarification. Now it is more understandable 🙂 It is a collective blog we are doing for a subject and the teacher asked me to reliance on good sources so when I saw your blog, I knew it was the information I was looking for.

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