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The Plague (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Albert Camus , Professor Tony Judt , Robin Buss
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Dec 2002 Penguin Modern Classics

The Plague is Albert Camus's world-renowned fable of fear and courage

The townspeople of Oran are in the grip of a deadly plague, which condemns its victims to a swift and horrifying death. Fear, isolation and claustrophobia follow as they are forced into quarantine. Each person responds in their own way to the lethal disease: some resign themselves to fate, some seek blame, and a few, like Dr Rieux, resist the terror.

An immediate triumph when it was published in 1947, The Plague is in part an allegory of France's suffering under the Nazi occupation, and a story of bravery and determination against the precariousness of human existence.

'A matchless fable of fear, courage and cowardice' Independent

'Magnificent'The Times

Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. He studied philosophy in Algiers and then worked in Paris as a journalist. He was one of the intellectual leaders of the Resistance movement and, after the War, established his international reputation as a writer. His books include The Plague, The Just and The Fall, and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. Camus was killed in a road accident in 1960.

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The Plague (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Outsider (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Re-issue edition (5 Dec 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141185139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141185132
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. His childhood was poor, although not unhappy. He studied philosophy at the University of Algiers, and became a journalist as well as organizing the Théâtre de l'équipe, a young avant-garde dramatic group.

His early essays were collected in L'Envers et l'endroit (The Wrong Side and the Right Side) and Noces (Nuptials). He went to Paris, where he worked on the newspaper Paris Soir before returning to Algeria. His play, Caligula, appeared in 1939. His first two important books, L'Etranger (The Outsider) and the long essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), were published when he returned to Paris.

After the occupation of France by the Germans in 1941, Camus became one of the intellectual leaders of the Resistance movement. He edited and contributed to the underground newspaper Combat, which he had helped to found. After the war he devoted himself to writing and established an international reputation with such books as La Peste (The Plague 1947), Les Justes (The Just 1949) and La Chute (The Fall; 1956). During the late 1950s Camus renewed his active interest in the theatre, writing and directing stage adaptations of William Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun and Dostoyevsky's The Possessed. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He was killed in a road accident in 1960.

His last novel, Le Premier Homme (The First Man), unfinished at the time of his death, appeared for the first time in 1994. An instant bestseller, the book received widespread critical acclaim, and has been translated and published in over thirty countries. Much of Camus's work is available in Penguin.

Sartre paid tribute to him in his obituary notice: 'Camus could never cease to be one of the principal forces in our cultural domain, nor to represent, in his own way, the history of France and of this century.'

(Image: Albert Camus in Oran. Private collection. Rights reserved.)

Product Description

About the Author

Albert Camus is the author of a number of best-selling and highly influential works, all of which are published by Penguin. They include THE FALL, THE OUTSIDER and THE FIRST MAN. He is remembered as one of the few writers to have shaped the intellectual climate of post-war France, but beyond that, his fame has been international. Translated by Robin Buss With an Introduction by Tony Judt

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The peculiar events that are the subject of this history occurred in 194-, in Oran. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hats off, gentlemen! 28 Nov 2002
The Plague is easily one of the best ten novels ever written, far surpassing even the erstwhile classic The Stranger. Whereas we examine an uncommonly cold-hearted man in a normal world in the pages of The Stranger, in this novel it is a harsh outside world which closes in on a group of fascinating characters. It is in this much more developed context that Camus' most remarkale notions of humanity, life, and existence can be fleshed out and communicated more effectively. The lessons of good, normal lives in a world gone mad are much more instructive and meaningful than the observations in The Stranger of a man gone mad in a normal world.
A word to the wise: when large numbers of rats come out of the woodwork and commence dying nasty, bloody deaths in the streets and houses, public health is in danger. In the port city of Oran, the population ignores the signs of danger and only grudgingly admits that an epidemic, a form of the bubonic plague to be exact, has taken root in their city. The protagonist, Dr. Rieux, is a doctor who finally helps convince the authorities to take extreme measures in the interest of public safety and to eventually close the gates to town. Over the course of the novel, we get to observe the manner in which Dr. Rieux, his companions, and prominent men of the community react to the worsening plague and its social consequences. Dr. Rieux has just sent his unhealthy wife off to a sanitarium before the plague breaks out, and he must suffer her absence alongside the stresses of working 20+ hours a day trying to save people's lives while accomplishing little more than watching them die horrible deaths. Dr.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best existential novel of them all 11 Aug 2011
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
As a proper young existentialist, I read this in high school and loved it as a statement on the meaninglessness of life. But when I returned to it nearly 30 years later, this time in the original language, I felt a far deeper sense of awe at the characters and their interactions, all of which lead to their growth, even if in sorrow. WHile their dilemma is something I will probably never experience, I identified strongly with the characters and their philosophical dilemmas, this time as a middle-aged man whose life course is set and who has his own family and love. The French is spare, but utterly clear, giving the book a mournful texture in its North African context.

The book is so rich that I do not believe one can pin down or define the principal themes: we all interpret it from the perspective of ourselves and where we stand at the time that we read it and they are ever changing. I believe that that is what defines a true classic: it is universal yet endlessly reflects back to the reader's subjectivity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Camus' great masterpiece 22 Feb 2014
Brilliant though the short novel The Outsider is (and for that matter The Fall too), in my view this is Albert Camus' masterpiece in which he really expands and expounds at greater length his view of the human condition, how to live with and overcome the Absurd and find meaning in purely human terms. This is a beautifully written (though sometimes a little horrifying given the nature of the threat) novel in which the narrative depth and breadth of vision approach that of Joseph Conrad at his best, which for me is a high a recommendation as you can get. The characters are believable and you grow to really care about them as together they fight the plague. It's also quite a page turner at times. In short, this is one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Plague by Albert Camus
Camus ' prose and his insight into the human condition are very impressive. His eclectic character portrayal allows for an examination of a cross-section of humanity.
Published 3 months ago by Brian McFarlane
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as it's cracked up to be
I expected something way above the run, but this was not the case. Camus obiously researched what a plague was like, and used it to put across his views on society. Read more
Published 7 months ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars Excited
the book arrived on time, undamaged, great quality and safely. The purchase did not disappointed me and was worth every cent.
Published 12 months ago by Kristina Serovaite
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately uplifting and profound
In short, a city is subject to plague and isolates itself resulting in many reactions among its populace both to the isolation and the random unpredictable injustice of the... Read more
Published 15 months ago by GJ_Reading
4.0 out of 5 stars Literature Classic
One of Camus' classics. A gripping story of a physician and human nature set out on a scenario of devastation where our most inner thoughts spring out.
Published 19 months ago by M. Rostami
5.0 out of 5 stars My First Experience of Camus!
I remember studying the Black Death at college and how it impacted on England, reducing the population of 6 million to less than 2 million during its relentless onslaught. Read more
Published 21 months ago by D Brown
1.0 out of 5 stars nothing moves forward in the story
first I read 'The outside' by Albert Camus and quite liked it. I did a search on the net and found out that 'The plague' is one of Camus' best, so I ordered it. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Rex
5.0 out of 5 stars insight into mans mind
this is a fantastic book and a wonderful insight into how a mans mind works
Published on 9 Sep 2010 by Michael Parris
3.0 out of 5 stars A classic
I bought this at the same time as Ministry of Fear (Greene) I read the Greene in a few leisurely sessions over about a week. Read more
Published on 3 Sep 2010 by David Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Flee the flea, but enjoy The Plague and other tales from the Master
This review is for the Everyman's Library edition which seems to have mysteriously vanished from Amazon today? Read more
Published on 30 July 2010 by Justice Peace
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