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Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Plague (1947) by Albert Camus


Book Review
The Plague (1947)
by Albert Camus

  Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the aftermath of the 1960's, it seemed normal that French intellectuals like Jean Paul Sartre, Simone Beauvoir and Albert Camus had a role to play in the intellectual development of a curious adolescent reader.  Reading The Plague, probably the best novel to come out of the French existentialist was de rigeur, and I can remember discussing it after class in the still-legal-to-smoke cafes of Berkeley.  I hadn't revisited The Plague, or even though of Albert Camus, until I recently checked out the Kindle ebook copy from the Los Angeles Public Library.

  Reading it again as a forty year old, I now marveled that such a dry, dour tale penetrated so far into the consciousness of the American audience.  Certainly, the fact that Camus won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957, the second youngest writer to ever win the prize, and the added fact that he died in a tragic car accident not four years after he won the prize, did something to cement him as a figure of note to would-be tragic adolescents. Reading an ebook, whatever the other advantages and disadvantages, is 100% less romantic than reading a moldy paperback in the back of a college-town cafe.  Half the pleasure of reading The Plague is letting the people around you see you holding the book, reading  the book.

  Shuffling through the e-pages, I found The Plague a bore.  The magic of that high school era encounter was lost in the ebook.

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