[What we’re into right now]: The Plague

Albert Camus - The Plague

Such were the sights and apprehensions that kept alive in our townspeople their feeling of exile and separation. In this connection the narrator is well aware how regrettable is his inability to record at this point something of a really spectacular order-some heroic feat or memorable deed like those that thrill us in the chronicles of the past. The truth is that nothing is less sensational than pestilence, and by reason of their very duration great misfortunes are monotonous. In the memories of those who lived through them, the grim days of plague do not stand out like vivid flames, ravenous and inextinguishable, beaconing a troubled sky, but rather like the slow, deliberate progress of some monstrous thing crushing all upon its path.
No, the real plague had nothing on common with the grandiose imaginings that had haunted Rieux’s mind at its outbreak. It was, above all, a shrewd, unflagging adversary; a skilled organizer, doing his work thoroughly well. That, it may be said in passing, is why, so as not to play false to the facts, and, still more, so as not to false to himself, the narrator has aimed at objectivity. He has made hardly any changes for the sake of artistic effect, except those elementary adjustments needed to present this narrative in a more or less coherent form. And in deference to this scruple he is constrained to admit that, though the chief source of distress, the deepest as well as the most widespread, was separation – and it is his duty to say more about it as it existed in the later stages of the plague-it cannot be denied that even this distress was coming to lose some of its poignancy.

– Albert Camus


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