The Plague [NOOK Book]


A haunting tale of human resilience in the face of unrelieved horror, Camus' novel about a bubonic plague ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature.

An epidemic serves a telling symbol for the Nazi occupation of France, and, by extension, for human existence as a whole.

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The Plague

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A haunting tale of human resilience in the face of unrelieved horror, Camus' novel about a bubonic plague ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature.

An epidemic serves a telling symbol for the Nazi occupation of France, and, by extension, for human existence as a whole.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Stephen Spender
The Plague is parable and sermon, and should be considered as such. The Plague stands or falls by its message. The message is not the highest form of creative art, but it may be of such importance for our time that to dismiss it in the name of artistic criticism would be to blaspheme against the human spirit.
Books of the Century; New York Times review August 1948
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307827807
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/8/2012
  • Series: Vintage International
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 99,991
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. His origin in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work. Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in philosophy (only chance prevented him from pursuing a university career in that field), he came to France at the age of twenty-five. The man and the times met: Camus joined the resistance movement during the occupation and after the liberation was a columnist for the newspaper Combat. But his journalistic activities had been chiefly a response to the demands of the time; in 1947 Camus retired from political journalism and, besides writing his fiction and essays, was very active in the theatre as producer and playwright (e.g., Caligula, 1944). He also adapted plays by Calderon, Lope de Vega, Dino Buzzati, and Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun. His love for the theatre may be traced back to his membership in L'Equipe, an Algerian theatre group, whose "collective creation" Révolte dans les Asturies (1934) was banned for political reasons.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 43 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An amazing book

    Camus' classic is a must read. As much great literature does, this book works on several levels. It is a clear allegory about the dangers of fascism. The plague begins to appear with the dramatic increase in dead rats. The dangers are largely ignored until things have worsened and it is too late to stop the calamity. Couple this allegory with astute insight into the psychology of human nature and Camus' work borders on amazing. The town seems to resign themselves to their fate, barely fighting, as if already defeated. This book does not fall back to a typical medical thriller where the source must be found and millions are saved at the last minute. Instead, Camus has people die and react to the indiscriminate nature of the disease, killing young and old, rich and poor. As expected there are those who profit from disaster and those you have the money to buy the slowly disappearing food, but Camus resists the urge to cheapen his book with tricks and fabricated action scenes. This books is an intense, existential study of the human psyche in the face of a natural disaster or, allegorically, a dangerous, oppressive government bent on killing individuality and imagination. Camus leaves the reader with the chilling reminder that the plague can lie dormant for years and return at any time.

    22 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The Plague

    I¿ll be forward about the fact that I am about to give this book a review it does not deserve. I am aware enough to know that even if I did not enjoy this book as much as it should have, the literary work is still very good.<BR/><BR/>The story itself interesting, dealing with a small town in Algeria (Northern Africa) which finds itself under the sudden punishment of the Plague. At first it is the dead rats that appear on the streets, eventually people succumbing and soon the gates to the city are closed and this community is forced to be isolated from the rest of the world until the malady retreats.<BR/><BR/>There is absolutely nothing wrong with the subject matter or the characters, but rather, to me, the way it was written was not the most approachable of ways. Instead of allowing us to make a true connection with the characters, the author opts to narrate this almost in a journalistic fashion, which gives us a lot of facts from a detached point of view. The main character himself, who serves as the narrator, explains that this is how it will be done from the beginning and while it is effective, I found it less enjoyable than if the author had allowed us to become more personal with the characters.<BR/><BR/>The vocabulary used here is also above par, which makes it a bit slower reading, with deliciously stringed together sentences that somehow do not entirely lose their magic in the translation from French. So, if my review seems a bit lower than it should be, keep in mind that it was only because I personally found it to not be my type of reading. Some of you may think this book is much better and I would not think you wrong.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Struggle

    I am a huge fan of Camus. The Stranger and A Happy Death are two of my very favorite books. That being said, I had a very hard time with The Plague. The storyline is really great and I went into it with a good attitude, but I just could not for the life of me get into it. I thought it was really boring and strange to read. I could only read about half of it before putting back on the shelf. I probably will try again later.
    All this being said, it is obviously loved by most of the reviewers, so it must be good. And if you like Camus' other stuff you probably will also enjoy this. I just didn't.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    The Human Experience

    Camus', The Plague, is a gripping novel that is definitely worth reading. Camus focuses on the human experience by illustrating the power that fear of an undiscriminating plague with terrible suffering has over an impersonal community the power to bring them together. At the time, the people in the city of Oran, in Africa were distant, lifeless, and cold until forced into cooperation in a fight for their lives to stop the spreading plague and counteract the terrible human suffering. With vivid imagery, Camus pulls the reader into the story and challenges what their mind can take. Visions of the Holocaust are seen through the way the people of Oran deal with the countless deaths caused by the plague. The narrator describes, 'The corpses were tipped pell-mell into the pits and had hardly settled into place when spadefuls of quicklime began to sear their faces and the earth covered them indistinctively, in holes dug steadily steeper as time went on.' The large amounts of deaths in Oran made the people and city loose all formality and personality in the deaths of their loved ones. Soon those people were just another body to bury among many. With the constant idea of death looming over the heads of people in the city of Oran they still found reason to push on, to beat the plague. The plague was soon taking no prisoners, it didn't matter if you were the wealthy or the poor of Oran your life was up for the taking. Camus writes, 'But once the town gates were shut, every one of us realized that all, the narrator included, were, so to speak, in the same boat, and each would have to adapt himself to the new conditions of life.' Read The Plague and experience the struggle for yourself!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2015

    One detail of its artistic framework that struck me was the Cerv

    One detail of its artistic framework that struck me was the Cervantine technique of inventing a narrator. We know at the end that the narrator is Doctor Bernard Rieux, the man who experienced more than any the onslaught of the epidemic. But in effect, there are three narrators. Weakness or strength? Any comments?

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  • Posted April 21, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    A Philosophical Novel

    The philosophical novel at its finest. Camus creates a situation—a plague—and then proceeds to exhaust various responses to it. Brilliant. Read it alongside Saramago's BLINDNESS for a truly interesting experience.

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  • Posted February 2, 2012

    Higly Recommended-an exciting novel for our time

    The Plague is an exciting story of the outbreak of the dreaded "Plague" that has horrified mean and women for centuries. The location is romantic Northern Africa in the Forties. Pay attention to the characters as they interact with each other and a situation that overwhelms individuals and families. Camus uses his characters to ask the very questions we should be asking ourselves about our existence, our purpose in life and even about God. The question I ask myself is: how would I react in such a situation?

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    His Mediocre Book

    Albert Camus is my second favorite writer, next to Poe. The Stranger is one of my favorite books, easily 5 stars, and his others are all extremely good. The Plague is a lot different from his other works, though. It is way too dense and much too difficult to get into. Too much happens in such short spans of time, and the storyline is just too difficult to follow. A highly overrated work in my opinion, I know what he was trying to do with it but it was so oddly written that I didn't even care about what happened in the end, I only cared that it did end.

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  • Posted March 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Plague...

    This novel is spectacularly well written. Camus does an amazing job, as usual, writing an allegory that is beautiful, yet heartwrenching all the same.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2009

    The Plague

    Albert Camus' The Plague is a thrilling tale of an Algerian town quarantined by the Plague. Throughout the story we feel for the many different character types who are coping with the isolation in different ways. Waiting out the days till the gates of Oran are reopened the town comes closer to do whatever they can to stay free of the Plague.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    The Plague Means More than Death? Yep.

    ¿There are no more cats. The sight of all those dead rats strewn about the street may have excited their hunting instinct anyhow they all have vanished¿ (27). And that¿s how it all starts. The Plague tells the story of one town¿s experiences with the plague and the characters that try to help the sick and try to survive in the process. Dialogue, like the quote above, allows the reader to visualize the descriptions of life in The Plague. The theme focuses on the plague, which might be misleading. Don¿t jump to the conclusion that the plague automatically leads to millions of death, but The Plague does have a storyline with substance and death knocking on the door is only one part of the big picture. This book is definitely worth reading. It provided me with insight into how our society could change any moment. With the threats of ¿weapons of mass destruction¿ and ¿biological weapons¿, the thought of an outbreak or ¿plague¿ is always possible. I also saw a connection to how we could be living our lives today and what our society could¿ve been. If at all, read it because it is titled The Plague. Hearing the word plague intrigued me enough to read this book. I thought death and destruction before I opened the cover, but I was treated to not only that, but touching stories like of a husband and wife who were split apart and families with loved ones dying.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    The Truth About the Plague

    Incorporating unique tone and an alternative point of view make Albert Camus¿ novel, The Plague, an excellent book to read. The novel is about citizens from Oman, Algeria who are suffering with the problems from the infamous plague that has impacted their whole society. In the novel, Camus writes with a very distinct tone. He plays around with the tone so it encompasses the emotions of everyone in the city, who is facing the hardships of the plague. At the beginning, he writes in a very grotesque manner to convey the impact and the brutality of the disease. He then switches to fear and frustration to show when the doctor meets with patients. Also, the tone changes to an uneasy state when the committee of physicians is talking together. Along with tone, Camus provides a different point of view. A narrator is telling the story, however, the reader does not who the narrator is. Also, every now and then the narrator is referred to in third person, which makes one question the identity of the storyteller. Usually, in a transition of scenes this occurrence, of referring to the narrator in third person, takes place. Only at the end does the reader discover who the narrator is, consequently, when the reader is reading the story they don¿t feel they are getting a bias opinion of the events taking place. Altogether, Camus¿ novel, The Plague, is worthwhile to read. Not only does it have superior tone, but it also incorporates a distinct point of view. With these attributes in hand, The Plague is a superb novel to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    Community Through Tragedy

    Is it possible that good things can come from something horrible? This is a question that may arise while reading The Plague by Camus. Camus uses irony to show that tragedy can help to bring a community closer together. At the beginning of the story, the residents of Oran are trapped in a routine. They appear to be free, but they are prisoners to the daily routine. Suddenly, a plague is thrust upon the town and destroys the routine. People begin to die. Before the people knew that they were prisoners, they took each other for granted. Once they become actual prisoners, they see how they can unite and try to stop the plague. They could stay separated and wait to get the plague or they could try to do something to stop it. They could get the plague during the process, but it is better than doing nothing. The Plague is worth reading because it reminds us of how we feel when a tragedy does occur. A recent example of what happened in The Plague is the attacks on the World Trade Center. When the towers came down on September eleventh, America was shocked. But after everyone realized what happened, we became closer as a nation. Although people have different opinions and ideas, the fact that everyone was horrified by what happened and how we hate terrorism unified the nation. But as the months past after September eleventh, the people began to forget. The Plague is important because it reminds us of the feelings we feel during tragedy and reminds us of the things we all have in common.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    Message over Matter

    The Plague is a compelling story that leads the reader through a town that has been slowly overtaken by the plague. The book is wholly interesting and captivating, due to a time period and specific location transcendent setting (and there for more easily relatable message.) ¿The unusual events described in this chronicle occurred in 194- at Oran.¿ This first statement of the entire book is an example of the indistinguishable surroundings the book tends to set. The story is set in a small, coastal town. It is described as ugly and a business center. Details on the time are left vague, and while specified as ¿194-¿ it is rarely mentioned again after the opening sentence. Other clues that would usually hint at the time period are not included either. Details on technology (used in transportation, medicine, and other common applications), occupations, and pass times are left vague and no consistent suggestion of a specific time is left. For example, this description of how the people of the town use their free time is left very indistinct, ¿In the evening, on leaving the office, they foregather, at an hour that never varies, in the cafes, stroll the same boulevard, or take the air on their balconies.¿ This method of leaving the setting neutral only enhances the overall messages and ideas within the story. It switches the focus from when and where to why. This leaves the reader to contemplate the author¿s use of irony and repetition, rather than to look for consistency in background or association to history. This magnification of focus upon message over matter plays a huge role in the story¿s draw on the reader, and continues to make The Plague a book worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    An Insight into the Mind

    An Insight into the Mind People react to extreme situations with extreme reactions. In the normally mundane town of Albert Camus¿s The Plague, the people at first show little except desires to not be connected to anyone else in the town. The plague that sweeps the town causes an upheaval in the social norms of the people. People change to show their underlying qualities and thoughts. The Plague is a fascinating look into what it is to be human and gives an in depth perspective of the human mind. One aspect of Camus¿s writing that is common is telling how a character thinks so that the and from that we gather images of characters that are very in-depth. For that matter, all of Camus¿s characters are in-depth. It is another characteristic of his writing that makes his characters mean something to the reader. Here is one such quote that shows a character's opinions and their perspective of reality, ¿The rest of the story, to Garand¿s thinking, was very simple. The common lot of married couples. You get married, you go on loving a bit longer, you work. And you work so hard that it makes you forget to love¿ (Camus. 75). Through an examination of the text, we gain as a reader much in the way of learning about how people think and what we really are once we break down the norms of our society. Camus is not a negative writer and the text shows despite being about a devastating plague has redeeming characters that act in the plague and give us hope that in such a time of need humans will act. The qualities the characters showed are underlining in humans so we as humans do possess the ability to do good and not fall to fear alone, be it in a plague or uncertain future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2005

    A beautiful grip to reality!

    I have yet to find a book by Camus that I didn¿t thoroughly enjoy. The Plague is a truly gripping tale that always leaves you hanging; I honestly could not put the book down! I love Camus¿ writing style because it is so descriptive and vivid. The Plague was an easy read, and as all of Camus¿ books, beautifully written. I could feel myself in some of the scenes. I sensed the tiredness of Dr. Rieux, the disparity in Rambert, and the wisdom of Tarrou. Camus has truly written a beautiful grip to reality!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2004

    thought-provoking and touching

    Camus does an excellent job grappling with religious and moral issues in the context of a devastating plague.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2004

    Needed more meat

    The storyline was excellent. The Plague has snuck out of dormancy and taken it's grasp on a single town to remind everyone just how close to death you can be in your otherwise comfortable lifestyle. To stop the spread of the deadly disease the town is quarantined from the rest of the world with little explanation. To improve the novel, it would have been more captivating to delve into the effects of the suffering and lay off the storytelling. It was hard to accept that a town would be so nonchalant about the pestilence which befell them. I would expect much more panic and evil as a result of such an epidemic. But nonetheless it was a good story and managed to keep me interested. It was also written as good as any literature I've ever read. The word choice and level of description was an A+.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2001

    Changed Perspectives from Imminent Death

    The Plague is about love, exile, and suffering as illuminated by living around death. What is the meaning of life? For many, that question is an abstraction except in the context of being aware of losing some of the joys of life, or life itself. In The Plague, Camus creates a timeless tale of humans caught in the jaws of implacable death, in this case a huge outbreak of bubonic plague in Oran, Algeria on the north African coast. With the possibility of dying so close, each character comes to see his or her life differently. In a sense, we each get a glimpse of what we, too, may think about life in the last hours and days before our own deaths. The Plague will leave you with a sense of death as real rather than as an abstraction. Then by reflecting in the mirror of that death, you can see life more clearly. For example, what role would you take if bubonic plague were to be unleashed in your community? Would you flee? Would you help relieve the suffering? Would you become a profiteer? Would you help maintain order? Would you withdraw or seek out others? These are all important questions for helping you understand yourself that this powerful novel will raise for you. The book is described as objectively as possible by a narrator, who is one of the key figures in the drama. That literary device allows each of us to insert ourselves into the situation. Let me explain the main themes. Love is expressed in many ways. There is the love of men and women for each other. Dr. Rieux's wife is ill, and has just left for treatment at a sanitarium. Rambert, a journalist on temporary assignment, is separated from his live-in girl friend in Paris. Dr. Rieux's mother comes to stay with him during his mother's absence, so there is also love of parent and child. The magistrate also loses his son to the plague after a desperate battle. Separations occur because of the quarantine on Oran, which causes love to be tested. What is love without the other person being present? The characters find that their memories soon become abstractions. But they reach out to establish new love with each other. Tarrou, who is also caught in Oran, decides or organize a volunteer corps to help with the sick and dead. Rambert decides to stay in Oran to help after having arranged to escape the quarantine. The survivors find succor in increasing closeness with each other. Rieux and Tarrou become close, almost like brothers. Even Rieux's patients become people with whom he develops an emotional bond, even though the waves of death become an abstraction as he can do little to avert them. The priest figure also helps to explore the notion of love for God and God's love for us. The exile theme is reinforced by the quarantine. People cannot leave Oran. The disease itself causes that exile to become worse. If someone in your household becomes ill, each well person has to be quarantined. So you may be living in a tent in the soccer stadium wondering what is happening to the rest of your family. Cottard is a criminal who is on the run from the authorities. He is in despair as the plague begins, and tries to kill himself. The distractions of the plague keep the authorities from troubling him, so the period of the plague is an exile from h

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2001

    Another Camus Masterpiece

    This novel is, by no means, a 'light read'. Every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence makes you think. Camus had a great knack for creating a story line through which he filtered his philosophical ideals. This is a book which will make you think about who you are and if perhaps you should go about things in life differently. Camus had an obsession with, among other topics, death and this novel shows man's desperation in the face of it. Often overlooked because of the massive success of 'The Stranger' (an amzing feat of literature in itself), 'The Plague' very well stands on its own as one of the most important books ever written.

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