Monday, 1 June 2020

Plaque, Noble Prized Novel by Albert Camus: In This Time Of Corona-virus

Who would have imagined that a 73-year-old novel called The Plague would have more than metaphorical significance in our own time? Yet here we are, beset by the corona-virus and still in possession of Albert Camus’s gorgeous and profound meditation on life in the shadow of death.

It is hard to believe that Corona-virus has crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet plagues and wars always take people by surprise.”The main thing about a pandemic like the novel corona-virus (Covid 19) is that it doesn’t discriminate.

Albert Camus

Whoever you are, wherever you live, you’re vulnerable, at least in principle. While some of us may fare better because of our age or health, the microbes themselves are impartial.

Who  Was Albert Camus Author of Novel Plague

Albert Camus (1913–1960) was a French Algerian philosopher, author, and journalist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44 in 1957, the second-youngest recipient in history.

He spent his childhood in a poor neighborhood and later studied philosophy at the University of Algiers. He was in Paris when the Germans invaded France during World War II in 1940. Camus tried to flee but finally joined the French Resistance where he served as editor-in-chief at Combat, an outlawed newspaper.

After the war, he was a celebrity figure and gave many lectures around the world. He married twice but had many extramarital affairs.

Plague is a fictional story about the very real town of Oran in Algeria.

Albert Camus published The Plague in 1947. It is a fictional story written about the very real town of Oran in Northern Algeria. Many consider this novel to be a war allegory of the French resistance to the Nazis in World War II, pointing out the futility of human aspirations and the inevitability of suffering.

Summery of Novel Plague

In the small town of Oran, Algeria, dead bodies are multiplying exponentially. A strange virus has penetrated the town walls; it is causing people’s flesh to boil, their inside to curdle with fever and vomit. There seems to be no hope for a cure. Terror has taken over.

One doctor, a darkly handsome man named Rieux, may be the last hope the people of Oran have – or he may simply have lost his mind, He is working tirelessly to treat the victims. He not only puts himself in contact with the deadly contagion, he does so methodically, with tremendous energy and unflinching dedication.

Thousands of rats stagger into the open and die. When a mild hysteria grips the population, the newspapers begin clamoring for action.

The authorities finally arrange for the daily collection and cremation of the rats. Soon thereafter, M. Michel, the concierge for the building where Dr. Rieux works, dies after falling ill with a strange fever.

When a cluster of similar cases appears, Dr. Rieux's colleague, Castel, becomes certain that the illness is the bubonic plague. He and Dr. Rieux are forced to confront the indifference and denial of the authorities and other doctors in their attempts to urge quick, decisive action.

Only after it becomes impossible to deny that a serious epidemic is ravaging Oran. The authorities enact strict sanitation measures, placing the whole city under quarantine.

Dr. Rieux notes that wars and plagues have always existed in human populations, yet people are always surprised when they become victims of one or the other. Even though he has personally seen several fatal cases, the events seem unreal even to him. As he recalls vivid, horrifying historical accounts of plague epidemics, Dr. Rieux braces himself for the possibility of another one.

The public reacts to their sudden imprisonment with intense longing for absent loved ones. They indulge in selfish personal distress, convinced that their pain is unique in comparison to common suffering.

Father Paneloux delivers a stern sermon, declaring that the plague is God's punishment for Oran's sins. Raymond Rambert endeavors to escape Oran to rejoin his wife in Paris, but the city's bureaucrats refuse to let him leave.

He tries to escape by illegal means with the help of Cottard's criminal associates. Meanwhile, Rieux, Tarrou, and Grand doggedly battle the death and suffering wrought by the plague.

Rambert finalizes his escape plan, but, after Tarrou tells him that Rieux is likewise separated from his wife, Rambert is ashamed to flee. He chooses to stay behind and help fight the epidemic.

If someone speculates that the epidemic will last six months, he or she quickly realizes that there is no reason why it should not last for a year or longer. Contemplation of the present provokes helpless impatience, and the past provokes regret.

Grand explains to Dr. Rieux why his marriage to Jeanne failed. They married, continued to love one another, and worked. However, they worked so hard that they forgot to love one another, and she eventually left him. Grand has tried unsuccessfully for years to write her a letter explaining his actions.

Cottard committed a crime (which he does not name) in the past, so he has lived in constant fear of arrest and punishment. He greets the plague epidemic with open arms because he no longer feels alone in his fearful suffering. He accumulates a great deal of wealth as a smuggler during the epidemic.

After the term of exile lasts several months, many of Oran's citizens lose their selfish obsession with personal suffering. They come to recognize the plague as a collective disaster that is everyone's concern.

They confront their social responsibility and join the anti-plague efforts. When M. Othon's small son suffers a prolonged, excruciating death from the plague, Dr. Rieux shouts at Paneloux that he was an innocent victim.

Father Paneloux, deeply shaken by the boy's death, delivers a second sermon that modifies the first.He declares that the inexplicable deaths of innocents force the Christian to choose between believing everything and believing nothing about God.

When he falls ill, he refuses to consult a doctor, leaving his fate entirely in the hands of divine Providence. He dies clutching his crucifix, but the symptoms of his illness do not match those of the plague. Dr. Rieux records him as a "doubtful case."

How Epidemic Plaque  ended

The most popular theory of how the plague ended is through the implementation of quarantines. The uninfected would typically remain in their homes and only leave when it was necessary, while those who could afford to do so would leave the more densely populated areas and live in greater isolation.

By late January the plague is in full retreat, and the towns people begin to celebrate the imminent opening of the town gates. Othon, however, does not escape death from the disease.

When the epidemic ends, Cottard cannot cope. He begins randomly firing his gun into the street until he is captured by the police. Grand, having recovered from a bout of plague, vows to make a fresh start in life.

Tarrou dies just as the epidemic is waning, but he battles with all his strength for his life, just as he helped Rieux battle for the lives of others.

Rambert's wife joins him in Oran after the city gates are finally opened, but Dr. Rieux's own wife dies of a prolonged illness before she and her husband can be reunited.

The public quickly returns to its old routine, but Rieux knows that the battle against the plague is never over because the bacillus microbe can lie dormant for years. The Plague is his chronicle of the scene of human suffering that all too many people are willing to forget.

Meaning of Life in Albert Camus’ “The Plague”

That the plague bacillus never dies or vanishes entirely, that it can remain dormant for dozens of years in furniture or clothing, that it waits patiently in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, handkerchiefs, and old papers and that perhaps the day will come when, for the instruction or misfortune, the plague will rouse its rats and send them to die in some well-contented city.” (Albert Camus, The Plague).

Towards the end The Plague, Camus allows the plague to pass. Perhaps this is Camus’s way of showing that pain and evil are cyclical, but never completely subside.

The End

Note:--This short write-up “Plaque, Noble Prized Novel by Albert Camus” has been prepared with help of Wikipedia and various articles over this topic and photos available on net, with thanks.

No comments: