The Plague by Albert Camus. Translated by Robin Buss

Published: 2020 Originally published in 1947 as La Peste 1. First lines 2. Cover: Penguin 3. Cover of the first edition of The Plague by Albert Camus. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 4. A variety of different editions of the book.

In the city of Oran in Algeria in the 1940s, dead and dying rats begin to appear in houses and in the streets, and soon people become sick with the plague. The death rate increases, and people are forced into quarantine. The story follows the course of the plague from its beginnings until the virus disappears.

“There have been as many plagues in the world as there has been wars, yet plagues and wars always find people equally unprepared.

This reader found the book altogether too dark and dreary but I agree with Five Books: “Camus is startlingly perceptive about the psychology of those in lockdown, and the ways in which different people cope with the fear of contagion.”


“As he listened to the cries of joy rising from the town, Rieux remembered that such joy is always imperiled. He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

Author: Albert Camus

Awards: Albert Camus received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957.

Adaptation: The Plague (original title: La Peste) is a 1992 Argentine-French-British drama film written and directed by Luis Puenzo and starring William Hurt, Sandrine Bonnaire, Robert Duvall and Raul Julia.

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