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The Plague

The Plague

4.1 44
by Albert Camus, Stuart Gilbert (Translator), Stuart Gilbert (Translator)

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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.


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.

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

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.70(d)
1070L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was an Algerian-born French author, philosopher, and journalist. He is generally considered one of the fathers of Existentialism along with Jean-Paul Sartre (though Camus is famously quoted as saying "I am not an Existentialist"). Camus is most well known for his books The Stranger and The Plague, which have become classic examples of Absurdist and Existential Literature. In 1957, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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The Plague 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
rmishou More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
DeDeFlowers More than 1 year ago
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.
FocoProject More than 1 year ago
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.

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.

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.

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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not a fan of Camus. This was my first read and unfortunately, it could be my last. Although others regard him highly, I found The Plague tedious, not in difficult to read but rather tedious in using a narrator to promote the interest and depth of the story. There were times when I felt as if I was being forced to "pull" the story from the narrator's voice. The story has been told before and the same questions remain. "What would any of us do in the same circumstance?" Truth be told...None of us knows.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
elprofe01 More than 1 year ago
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?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AdamZ1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Raging_Rhino More than 1 year ago
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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HammerSickle More than 1 year ago
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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Charlotte_Isabella More than 1 year ago
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 More than 1 year ago
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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