Author: Albert Camus
# Pages: 308
Date Published: 1947
5-Star Rating: 4
Would you recommend it?: Yes
Albert Camus’s novel The Plague tells the story of Oran, an Algerian city overcome by a bubonic plague. This fatal illness first presents itself when hundreds of sick rats crawl out of the sewers, only to quickly die in the streets. From there, the illness spreads to humans, despite the efforts of a determined Dr. Bernard Rieux, the novel’s narrator, to battle the oncoming illness.
This tale, filled with sickness, death, and human weaknesses, is not for light reading. With his grave subject matter, Camus poses an even graver philosophical question: is the individual morally responsible for the well-being of the public? Each of the tale’s characters explores different answers to this question. Rambert, for example, is a young journalist preoccupied with his own suffering, whereas Father Paneloux is a didactic priest who blames the plague on people’s sins.
Adding yet another layer to this novel’s purpose, is its historical context: written during World War II, The Plague serves as an allegory for a German occupied Paris, and its 308 pages serve as a call to action. Camus, himself a leader of the resistance, urges people to act against German occupation.
This book, though quite grim, offers us a poignant examination of moral obligation that is well worth reading.
Review by Lauren Schlacks, A&S '16