Life in the time of pandemic - Reading the present through Albert Camus' The Plague (1947)
This talk provides an illustration of how we study literary texts at University. Camus’ novel, The Plague, one of the great works of C20th fiction, is remarkably prescient when it comes to the social and personal circumstances in which we find ourselves in 2020-1. This is not because Camus could see into the future, but because he could understand his own times in terms of the past. More importantly, he was able to use the imaginative power of narrative to reveal fundamental conditions of human existence which underlie our hopes and fears. I’ll argue that we will more fully recognise our predicament once we have read The Plague. (I will be talking about a translation of the book published as La Peste in France in 1947).