What Albert Camus’s The Plague Can Teach Us about Life in a Pandemic
Life as we know it has recently been turned upside-down by a formidable enemy that cannot even be seen with the naked eye. It continues to wreak havoc in the face of this looming problem, threatening to engulf this world we call home. What would it be like to receive news of an impending lockdown amid an outbreak of a new strain of virus that threatens to kill people in its wake? COVID-19, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, has taken the world by surprise, and ordinary people are alarmed at the rate it is scaling up while experts are scrambling to find a formula to stem the growing tide of unsuspecting victims.
The 1947 novel from Albert Camus, The Plague, is a timely work of prose that tackles such a fortuitous event with an uncanny way of capturing the landscape in all its terrifying glory. We can identify with the novel’s characters, who went through a similar cataclysm that threatened to obliterate their small town in a seemingly bizarre turn of events. It is no secret that “there have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise” (Camus 18). Thus, to prevent mass hysteria, we should think rationally, listen to the authorities, and follow their directives.
Meanwhile, governments around the world are either imposing strict quarantine measures or restricting local and international flights. Scientists are busy researching data from samples and formulating a vaccine. The town mayor in the novel who initially thought “that this is a false alarm” (Camus 23) was galvanized into action; thus, volunteers were hired to fight the plague.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a harsh reality that we need to put up with at present. We can either learn to face it with bravery or die trying. Let us take comfort that our respective governments and scientists are working overtime to see this through to its inevitable end.
Camus, Albert. The Plague. Trans. Stuart Gilbert, pages 1-150. 20 Mar. 2020, https://antilogicalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/the-plague.pdf.
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