Why Read The Plague Today?

Disclaimer: Article contains spoilers of the narrative of the book.

The Plague by Camus is a novel published in 1947, set in the 1940’s, about a plague epidemic that arises in Oran, French Algeria… so how does that apply to us living in 2019, where living sanitary and health conditions are far more advanced compared to the state it was in 1947? An article in The Guardian by Ed Vulliamy touches upon the many different reasons why the story of Camus’s is actually beneficial to read in our time and even in future times. Vulliamy describes Camus’s novel as best in describing and depicting man’s confrontation of death, especially in such a context that we, as the readers of the 21st century, cannot comprehend. Camus allows us to question what exactly the plague signifies now, in our time and day. Additionally, Vulliamy brings up an interesting perspective where The Plague can tell the story of a different kind of plague: “that of destructive, hyper-materalist, turbo-capitalism.” Camus very well describes the town and townspeople before the plague had started to spread, as well as when the plague started to manifest itself into the lives of the citizens who inhabited the unfortunate space: how people started to drink more because they thought it could cure them of the state of their town, how more and more people started attending the Sunday church sessions in order to feel some sense of relief against the growing despair. Perhaps it is that Camus’s novel serves as a way for us contemporaries of today to visualize what happens during an epidemic and what productive ways we can do to go about it, if the occasion ever arises.


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  1. Interesting article at the link — and yes, be warned that it will give away some things. I thought it was interesting that it was written in 2015, just as our current ramped-up nationalism/proto-fascism was kicking into gear or at least threatening to rear its head. There are good reasons to read it now that have everything to do with fascism, actually.

    But the reference to turbo-capitalism anticipates our upcoming read Dream of Ding Village. Stay tuned.

  2. I think the term ‘turbo-capitalism’ is very interesting because it focuses on themes such as money, real-estate and power-hungry mindsets that manifest the essence of turbo-capitalism. Pivoting from this article on The Plague , even in Dream of Ding Village , we observe rampant blood selling, where the root of infection became so commercialised that merchants, like pedlars, would roam the streets and encourage people to sell their blood using money as motivation, with absolutely no regard for their health. It highlights a time where the influx of money was valued much more than the health and safety for fellow civilians, a time of decisions which had serious moral, economic, and social implications.

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