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Albert Camus was born in Mondovi, Algeria, on November 7, 1913, into a family of French-Algerian Pieds-Noirs. Yet soon enough, the town is invaded by a repulsive mass of dying rats, often spurting blood and giving off agonizing death-cries in their last moments. After 1945, both Gaullists and Communists maintained that the majority of French people had been active resisters. Grand goes through many variations of that phrase, explains the pros and cons of a particular word and concludes by saying that, if only he could get that one sentence right, the rest would all fall into place. Moreover, it is a philosophical treatise of the Absurd: We are challenged by the paradox that we want to give meaning to our lives, while knowing that all of our struggles ultimately amount to nothing. In the streetcars, people are twisting their backs to avoid contact and thereby contagion. by Albert Camus and Stuart Gilbert | May 7, 1991. Tarrou quit the day he witnessed an execution by firing squad in Hungary. The concierge M. Michel flat out denies that there could be rats in the building. The novel tells of a group of men who don’t even try to make sense of a meaningless disease, but instead establish hygiene standards, isolate and care for the sick, develop a cure and hope for the best. Albert Camus was working for the daily newspaper Paris-Soir when the Germans marched on Paris. The Prefect and most of the doctors in town are wary of calling the thing by its name. The Plague (SparkNotes Literature Guide) by Albert Camus Making the reading experience fun! He’s feverish, and that same night he asks Rieux to burn his 50-page manuscript, containing the same opening sentence over and over again, in all conceivable variations. The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) Albert Camus. With the right precautions and modern medicine, they should be able to control an outbreak, shouldn’t they? Eventually, though, the number of dead exceeds the capacity of the cemetery, so they utilize the old crematorium outside the gates, east of the town, employing an unused streetcar line to transport the dead to their final burning place. The two men take a brief break to go swimming and then they go back to work. The public grows panicked, and the government finally arranges a daily cremation of rat bodies. From the title, you know this book is about a plague. After France’s crushing defeat by Nazi-Germany in 1940, the nation was in shock: Huge swastika flags were flown at the City Hall and Eiffel Tower in Paris, the ultimate symbol of humiliation. Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Plot Summary of “The Plague” by Albert Camus. Camus joined the French Resistance as chief editor of the underground newspaper Combat in 1943 and became friends with Jean-Paul Sartre. Your highlights will appear here. Resisters laid bombs, assassinated enemies, derailed trains and sabotaged factories. Despair sets in along with the merciless summer heat. Meanwhile Rieux struggles ceaselessly against the plague and is joined by Jean Tarrou, another visitor to Oran, and Joseph Grand, an older municipal clerk who longs for his ex-wife and struggles daily over the first sentence of a book he is trying to write. At the start of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, demand was so high that, “On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. Depending on the perspective of the reader, the plague of the novel could relate to the fascism and Nazism of World War II and the French Resistance, a more universal application to the plague of oppressive governments or an even more universal application of the oppression suffered by a minority for no apparent reason. Camus is often considered an existentialist, but the philosophy he most identified with and developed was called absurdism. She will spend some time in a mountain sanatorium to get better. In 1942, he went to the small French mountain village Le Panelier, in order to cure one of his recurring bouts of tuberculosis. Just before Christmas, Rieux catches Grand in front of a shop window with tears in his eyes: The old clerk remembers his early and happy days with his young wife, who left him after a few years of unfulfilled hopes. But a few days later Tarrou comes down with the disease. But the doctor suggests he look into this curious rat invasion. Tormented by his usual self-doubt, on the eve of its publication in 1947, he complained to a friend that it was a “livre manqué” – a waste of a book. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. The next day Rieux receives the news of his wife’s passing. 79 likes. 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,483. Only one person won’t join in the festive mood: Cottard has barricaded himself in his apartment and is shooting at people from his house. But Camus warned his readers of complacency: Pathogens like totalitarianism, racism or mindless opportunism won’t disappear for good. Camus' The Plague is an uncannily prescient description of the world of COVID-19, giving us reasons for reflection, and finally for hope. Camus himself suggested reading the novel at “several levels,” having woven his philosophic ideas about the human condition and the Absurd between the lines, for example when Rieux explains to Rambert why he can’t help him sneak out of town to reunite with the love of his life: “Oh, I know it’s an absurd situation, but we’re all involved in it, and we’ve got to accept it as it is.”. More cases appear, and Dr. Rieux and his colleague Dr. Castel believe the disease is bubonic plague. Everyone grows weary and depressed, and the death toll is so high that the authorities have to cremate the bodies. He is aided in his attempts by Cottard, a man who committed an unknown crime in the past and has since then lived in constant paranoia. Between his day job as an editor at Gallimard and his underground activities, he struggled to finish the novel. The only person who seems perfectly at ease – in fact, doing better than ever before – is Cottard. £4.68. 12 Total Resources View Text Complexity Discover Like Books Audio Excerpt from The Plague; Grade; ... 1957 given by Albert Camus Created by Nobelprize.org View on Nobelprize.org Share. The Plague Summary. An oily, awful-smelling odor descends on that part of town. Having moved to Paris in 1943, he joined the Resistance as chief editor of the influential clandestine newspaper Combat. Cottard is the only citizen to welcome the plague, as it reduces the rest of the public to his level of fear and loneliness, and he builds up a small fortune smuggling. tags: anticipation, love, separation. The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of. His daughter Catherine Camus, when asked about the book’s newfound popularity, said that its core message was now more pressing than ever: “We are not responsible for the coronavirus, but we can be responsible in the way we respond to it.”. Camus’ message of responsibility and solidarity struck a chord with readers and made it his first commercial success. His father died in World War I when he was an infant. Similar cases of fever and inflamed lymph nodes start multiplying at a worrying clip across town. Having spent Christmas 1959 with his wife and children in Provence, he set off for Paris driving a friend’s luxurious Facel Vega HK500. In the first, the rats come out, creating a sense of ominous foreboding. FREE Shipping on your first order shipped by Amazon. And then the worst is over. In early 1941, he began to immerse himself in the history of plagues to gather material for his next project: The Plague or The Prisoners, as he preferred to name it at first. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue.”. Everybody gets ready, Rambert agrees to pay a hefty fee for the service – but somehow the escape plan keeps falling through. Created by Harvard students for students everywhere, SparkNotes is a new breed of study guide: smarter, better, faster. The plague in question afflicted Oran in the 1940'2; and on one plane the book is a straightforward narrative. Raymond Rambert, a foreign journalist, tries to escape Oran and rejoin his wife in Paris, but he is held up by the bureaucracy and the unreliability of the criminal underground. Finally, the town’s gates are opened again in the fifth part, lovers are reunited at last, and the unnamed narrator sums up his observations. Plague victims are dying alone, away from their families, and then buried without church services. Rereading it during lockdown made people realize what the author had claimed all along: Far from being a narrow tale of Nazi-occupied France, it speaks universal truths about the things that afflict human beings in perpetuity and their inherent ability to rise above them. Camus realized that his original ideas on the Absurd, conceived as “tender indifference” towards a meaningless life, “teaches nothing.” In Letters to a German Friend, published between 1943 and 1944, he instead called for collective action against the pointlessness of our existence: “If nothing had any meaning, you would be right. Learn how the author incorporated them and why. Major Themes in Albert Camus's The Plague. Other patients recover as well, and soon the epidemic is on the retreat, but then Tarrou falls ill. After a long struggle against the disease he dies. The Plague. Grand shows all the symptoms of plague, but against the doctor’s expectations he recovers. One night, Grand invites Rieux into his small apartment and shows him what he’s been working on. At first, everyone is in denial. The Plague is essentially a philosophical novel, meaning that it forwards a particular worldview through its plot and characterization. Rieux agrees. I know only human beings.” Although Camus never explicitly said so, he was likely inspired by their humanity – tellingly, the village doctor in Chambon was a man named Rioux. ― Albert Camus, The Plague. In November, thanks in part to Castel’s serum, the curve begins to flatten, but the poor don’t have enough to eat, and the mood is turning ugly. The locked-in townspeople become dull and passive; cars seem to be going around in circles, the port lies idle, and commerce dwindles. An obsessive and guilt-ridden womanizer, he married again in 1940, only to feel trapped soon afterwards, suggesting to his wife that they maintain a fraternal relationship (five years later she would give birth to twins). Albert Camus's The Plague Chapter Summary. They agree on smuggling the journalist past the bribed sentries out of the locked town. He often intersperses his sober narration with quotes from a diary written by Tarrou, thus introducing another detached perspective to underline the unbiased nature of the account. if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live as if there isn't and to die to find out that there is.” -Albert Camus, The Fall In Albert Camus’ novel The Plague, the author employs three main characters -- the narrator, Tarrou, and Father Paneloux -- to represent extremist views on religion and science in culture. The townspeople slowly regain their hope and begin to celebrate. The Rebel is a book by French writer and philosopher Albert Camus. The story is narrated to us by an odd, nameless narrator strangely obsessed with objectivity, who tends to focus on a man named Dr. Bernard Rieux. On the fourth day, the beasts come out in packs and city officials give orders to collect and burn them in the incinerator. Yet according to Camus’ friend, the novelist Nicola Chiaromonte, most critics were simply missing the point: “The general public have apparently found in it an answer to their yearning for ordinary humanity and good sense.”, A yearning that resurfaced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020: Copies of The Plague were flying off the shelves like no other pestilence fiction – even Amazon went out of stock – and many dug out their old dog-eared high school editions. They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. Guide to the Classics: Albert Camus' The Plague Menu Close My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class.”. On January 4, 1960, he died in a car crash en route to the capital. 29 $15.00 $15.00. Rambert’s wife joins him in Oran, but Dr. Rieux learns that his wife has died at the sanatorium. What more could they ask for? He began to dedicate his life to what he considered – and still considers – state-sanctioned murder. The man is still moving peas back and forth from his saucepans, predicting that people will soon forget what’s happened and go about their lives. And he resolved to abdicate any cause that claimed human lives in some bogus pursuit of justice. [The Plague] [by: Albert Camus] Albert Camus. And, more importantly, what to do in such a nightmarish situation? Our, “Would not have made it through AP Literature without the printable PDFs. The Plague concerns an outbreak of bubonic plague in the French-Algerian port city of Oran, sometime in the 1940s. And although the death rate among burial workers is high, the list of applicants is long – at this point many fear hunger more than plague. Struggling with distance learning? There are shootouts at the gates, and some people escape. Having grown up in a narrow world of limited words, he relished the intellectual universe that opened up before him. The next day a health committee convenes. His convictions gained him a pariah status within the French Left in the last decade of his life. Finally, the Prefect receives an order to proclaim a state of emergency and close the town. Family members, friends and lovers are separated for an unforeseeable future, and all communication with the outside world, except for telegrams, is forbidden. It is but one sentence about a horsewoman riding down the avenues of the Bois de Boulogne – the opening line of a novel that the clerk has been laboring over with much pain and trepidation. Ships and trains are coming in from the outer world; families and lovers are about to be reunited again. THE PLAGUE 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. Paneloux falls ill and dies soon afterwards, though he does not have the symptoms of the plague. THE PLAGUE, which won the Prix des Critiques in 1947, is considered by many to be the author's finest book. 4.3 out of 5 stars 10. The novel tells of a group of men who don’t even try to make sense of a meaningless disease, but instead establish hygiene standards, isolate and care for the sick, develop a … Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) was a French author and philosopher who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.His novel The Plague has recently garnered much worldwide attention do to the pandemic of 2020.As a philosopher familiar with Camus’ thought, I’d like to highlight the book’s main philosophical themes.But first a very brief plot summary. The novel reflects three aspects of the author’s personality: Dr. Rieux stands for the detached and dutiful healer, who fights on and continues to do the good work; Rambert is someone who lives for love, knowing full well that passion is fleeting and sustained marital bliss an illusion; and Tarrou is a disillusioned idealist, who searches for true meaning and dies before attaining it. It asks a number of questions relating to the nature of destiny and the human condition. At first, few heeded his call – the majority were convinced that Germany would win the war, and they supported Pétain’s authoritarian and anti-Semitic regime. The doctor sees off his ailing wife on the night train, assuring her that everything will be all right. Since he is already dealing with contraband goods and knows the right people, he puts Rambert in touch with some of his partners. The Plague concerns an outbreak of bubonic plague in the French-Algerian port city of Oran, sometime in the 1940s. In a subsequent sermon, Paneloux speaks of “we” instead of “you,” and mentions that nothing in the world could ever justify a child’s suffering. La Peste = The Plague, Albert Camus The Plague is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947, that tells the story of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran. On June 18, General Charles de Gaulle took to the microphone in a London BBC studio and called on the French people to resist Nazi Germany and the soon-to-be established collaborationist Vichy regime under Marshal Philippe Pétain in the south. Soon after the rat epidemic disappears, M. Michel, the concierge for Dr. Rieux’s office building, comes down with a strange fever and dies. This particular plague happens in a Algerian port town called Oran in the 1940s. ― Albert Camus, quote from The Plague “And indeed it could be said that once the faintest stirring of hope became possible, the dominion of plague was ended.” ― Albert Camus, quote from The Plague “No doubt our love was still there, but quite simply it was unusable, heavy to carry, inert inside of us, sterile as crime or condemnation. Dr. Bernard Rieux The surgeon — narrator of The Plague.. Jean Tarrou The best friend of Rieux.His notebooks are used as part of the chronicle. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. He wrote large parts of the novel while working for the French Resistance paper. The novel presents a snapshot of life in Oran as seen through the author's distinctive absurdist point of view. But Rieux grows increasingly impatient: The name is irrelevant, he says. Here are some memorable quotes from the novel. Castel starts to develop a vaccine based on the local variety of the plague bacillus, Grand acts as a general secretary to the squads, keeping the statistics of the disease, and even Father Paneloux ends up joining the effort. The Plague by Albert Camus - Goodreads The Plague is a novel by Albert Camus that was first published in 1947. Only Cottard is upset by the end of the plague, and on the day the town’s gates reopen, he goes mad and starts randomly firing a gun into the street until he is arrested. Had it continued its killing, Rieux projects, carloads of bodies would have been dumped into the sea. The Plague Summary. Like “Thus each of us had to be content to live only for the day, alone under the vast indifference of the sky.” ― Albert Camus, The Plague. At first, most restrictions remain in place. A quarantine camp is set up in the former municipal stadium, with hundreds of tents in the playing field and shower-baths installed under the stands. So, what to do? At first the child seems to be coming out of the illness, but then succumbs to it in horrible, prolonged agony, emitting a fierce cry followed by endless wailing. Still, the chronicle of the plague outbreak is only the first of many narrative layers and multiple meanings in this novel. Not long after that sermon, Paneloux dies of plague. The resisters’ initial focus lay on supplying the Allies with vital intelligence and publishing underground newspapers. When the city can withstand no more, the plague begins to level off. Find out what happens in our Part 1, Chapter 8 summary for The Plague by Albert Camus. But then the journalist visits the overworked Tarrou and Rieux in the plague ward and tells them that he decided to stay: Leaving his friends alone now would be cowardly, and as a coward he won’t be able to look his lover in the eyes. Everything is ready to go. In October, Rieux tries out Castel’s new anti-plague serum on a little boy who appears to be a hopeless case. What does it feel like to be suddenly cut off from nature and the world, beleaguered by an invisible bacillus and condemned to endless apathy? The numbers of daily deaths is rising exponentially, and the anti-plague serum from Paris is late in arriving. Rieux, meanwhile, walks alone through the celebrating crowds to the outskirts of town, seeing couples passionately embracing each other and their joy. The complicated liaison would later turn into outright hostility, as Camus was an anti-Stalinist at a time when it was not yet cool to be one. The Gestapo also captured a great number of activists and “turned” them into informants, often under severe torture. It has been described as 'a metaphysical novel the machinery of which can be compared to a Sophoclean tragedy. After several months the public loses the selfishness in their suffering and recognizes the plague as a collective disaster. In the nearby village of Le Chambon, the Protestant pastor couple Magda and André Trocmé were engaged in saving thousands of Jews from the clutches of the Vichy government, and when confronted by the authorities, Trocmé’s answer was: “I do not know what a Jew is. The novel consists of five acts resembling the trajectory of a classic Greek tragedy. Tarrou explains to Rieux how he has spent his life opposing the death penalty and “fighting the plague” in its many forms. Like everybody else, Rambert is awaiting his love with nervous foreboding, fearing that the long plague months have changed him to a point where it would be hard to rejoin his past. This free study guide is stuffed with the juicy details and important facts you need to know. At almost 44 he was the second-youngest author ever to receive the award, and the pressure to perform weighed on him. The plague itself is thematic. It is interesting that in 1941, when Camus was jotting ideas for the novel in his notebooks, he had decided to have a sea full of corpses. From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. They urge the government to take action, but the authorities drag their feet until the death toll rises so high that the plague is impossible to deny. The man begs the doctor not to report the incident to the police, but Rieux says it’s his duty to do so. The novel can be read on several levels: As a realistic tale of an epidemic outbreak, an allegory of active resistance to totalitarianism, or a comment on the Absurd. The first-person narrator is unnamed but mostly follows Dr. Bernard Rieux. But by the end of January it is announced that, should things continue on this path, the gates could open in two weeks’ time. Even Rieux and his friends briefly join the crowds. To conclude, the Jesuit Father Paneloux preaches a fierce sermon opening with a bang: “Calamity has come on you, my brethren, and, my brethren, you deserved it.” Spiking his words with Old Testament quotes, somber premonitions and harrowing comparisons, he literally puts the fear of God into people – only to commend that they see the light, change their ways and embrace the love of God to atone for their sins. But after a complete lockdown is imposed and case numbers rise sharply, a medical doctor and his outsider friend decide to fight the disease by organizing volunteers in sanitary squads. In truth, the estimated number lies somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 – out of a population of then almost 40 million. For both of them, it is a rare and refreshing moment of complete happiness and friendship, a taste of the overwhelming beauty of life and nature. "The Plague" is a famous allegorical novel by Albert Camus, who's known for his existential works. When a bedraggled looking dog comes out onto the street – the first Rieux has seen in months – he shoots the poor animal, too. After the first month of plague, the church authorities organize a week of prayer. Learn and understand all of the themes found in The Plague, such as Human Suffering. Plague didn’t change anyone. The mess starts when rats everywhere die. We’ve discounted annual … Eventually he resolves to give in and join Tarrou’s relief effort for the time being. Around the same time the first living rats are seen in town again. Rieux agrees with his much older colleague Dr. Castel that it can be nothing other than plague. We have to defy the meaningless by creating meaning through action and resistance. The Plague (French: La Peste) is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947, that tells the story from the point of view of a narrator of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran.The narrator remains unknown until the start of the last chapter, chapter 5 of part 5. Geared to what today's students need to know, SparkNotes … The authorities declare martial law. Another former patient, the modest and underpaid municipal clerk Joseph Grand, calls him because of his neighbor’s failed suicide attempt: Cottard has rather ambivalently tried to hang himself. The move takes everybody by surprise. Book Guides ... View on SparkNotes Share. Rather than giving in to a false sense of security, we should always be on watch for another wave. Only at this point does he reveal his identity: The chronicler is Dr. Rieux himself, claiming that he wanted to convey the events as impartially and objectively as possible, not assuming anything about others that he couldn’t vouch for. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Plague. A teacher discovered his talent and convinced the reluctant family that Albert should apply for a scholarship to pursue higher education. Next. He realized that he’d had the plague all along. 26 offers from £4.46. So when Dr. Bernard Rieux finds a dead rat lying in the middle of his building’s landing, he doesn’t give it another thought. Then he suggests to his friend to go out for a swim in the sea. It’s on that same day that the concierge comes down with a mysterious disease involving painful swellings, black patches and a delirious fever. Finally they close the gates and quarantine Oran. “What makes my books a success is the same that makes them a lie for me.” A number of reviewers agreed, criticizing it as grey, heavy and dull. Summary Read a Plot Overview of the entire book or a chapter by chapter Summary and Analysis. Still, to him it has proven that, when all is said and done, there are more reasons to admire his fellow human beings than to despise them. The intention is clear: Don’t raise unwarranted alarm. Dr. Rieux reveals himself as the narrator of the chronicle, which he wrote as a testament to the victims of the plague and the struggles of the workers. The townspeople quickly return to their normal lives, trying to pretend nothing has changed. Rieux and his mother decide to skirt the rules, let him stay at their house and keep vigil until the end. Albert Camus, inspired by historical accounts of plague outbreaks and his experience during the Resistance in Nazi-occupied France, answered that timeless question in The Plague: Get up and do something useful together! Temporarily out of stock. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis … It seems as if the plague has been cornered and has suddenly lost its force. In August, tensions edge up a notch, since the plague is moving from the crowded outskirts to the center of town. Albert Camus - The plague. His mother, who was half-deaf, worked as a cleaning woman. Camus was a cautiously optimistic humanist and moralist: He believed that, for all their colossal failings, people are inherently decent – when given a chance. Albert Camus’ ‘The Plague’ and our own Great Reset Two police officers are the only ones on Rome’s Spanish Steps on March 10 amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Plague is a novel by Albert Camus that was first published in 1947. At 20, he married a young bourgeois woman addicted to morphine, but the marriage failed miserably. Yet for every German killed, about 50 to 100 French hostages were executed in retaliation. A summary of Part X (Section1) in Albert Camus's The Plague. Rieux notices the sudden appearance of dying rats around town, and soon thousands of rats are coming out into the open to die. Like all pestilences, the plague eventually runs its course. 559. Rieux conjures up images of grotesquely masked doctors at times of the Black Death in the Middle Ages, of people copulating in the Milanese cemeteries. We must rise up in collective action and resist each recurring wave, over and over and over again. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Then, on a morning in February, the gates are officially reopened with great pomp. 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A false sense of security, we just have to trust in God, because the alternative be. The rules, let him stay at their house and keep vigil the! Yet in the end, we just have to trust in God, because the alternative would be worse chapter! And continues to worsen until it reaches its climax in Part four doing better than ever before – is.... Plague concerns an outbreak of bubonic plague annual … '' the plague, but the philosophy he most with! Summer heat friend that his wife ’ s expectations he recovers outer world ; families and are. Penalty and “ turned ” them into informants, often under severe torture the plan. For another wave the townspeople quickly return to their normal lives, trying pretend! Of bodies would have been dumped into the sea into his small apartment and shows him what ’... Orders to collect and burn them in the incinerator friends with Jean-Paul Sartre their private.! Editor at Gallimard and his mother will join him soon Jesuit priest, delivers a sermon declaring the. Entire book or a chapter by chapter summary Chart to help him the.

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