Monday, September 1, 2008

BOOK: The Plague by Albert Camus

The Plague by Albert Camus

African Reading Challenge: Algeria; 1% Well Read

What are my impressions after reading this book? It's a classic, so that comes with a bunch of preconceived notions for me, which is layers, messages, and deep. Usually I don't like classics because they are deep, with hidden messages and layers. For some reason though, I kind of like Camus.

Camus tells a story about a town in Algeria, Oran which becomes infested and then isolated, with the bubonic plague. There are a bunch of characters that I had a hard time keeping straight, so they each probably represent a different philosophy. At some point, I thought that there must be some analogy to world war two, and my reading after confirmed this inkling. The German invasion and occupation of France is the parallel. What makes Camus an interesting read for me is that the plot and story at its lowest level is still interesting, but I can recognize and still even enjoy the other level. The characters are facing difficult situations all in their own way and there are philosophical discussions going on that I somewhat skim over.

The Plague tells a great story and has levels for some readers who like that stuff. Camus is a Nobel Winning author who writes in a very accessible style.

Isn't that an awful cover I have? I bought this at a used book sale, but it just screams Important Book!


  1. I agree, that cover is hideous. I don't always put up the image that matches what edition I read- sometimes I just display my favorite.

  2. The cover isn't too good is it?

    The Plague is a favourite novel of mine. I like how it works as entertaining and affecting story of humanity at a time of crisis but also has a sense of ideas being discussed if the reader is interested. And I enjoy the restraint of its narrative voice.

  3. of course I've heard of this book, but I didn't know anything about it (or about Camus either) until now ... this definitely sounds interesting (I'm a big fan of "layers" ~LOL~) - it's going on my TBR list now!

  4. jeane - I have a thing, where I have to use the cover I have, even if it's awful.

    sarah - the restraint of its narrative voice

    In some books, that makes the reader feel detached or removed from the story, but Camus makes it work. It has so much that I don't like in classics, and yet I still enjoy his writing.

    heather j- I'll be interested to hear what you think. If you like layers, Camus should be good. He was killed in a car accident a few years after he won the Nobel prize for writing. I'm pretty sure the Nobels aren't ever given posthumously.

  5. I have the same problem with classics. I don't want to have to fight too hard to understand all the hidden meanings and whatnot. I so often come away wondering what I wasn't smart enough to pick up on. And yet this is one I've often been tempted to pick up. And after reading your review, I think I definitely will give it a try sometime. Thanks!

  6. I have heard so much about this book but somehow never managed to get my hands on it....


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