Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Simple Complexity

The Plague (continued)
by Albert Camus

Our discussion of Camus' The Plague last Sunday focused on the introductory section. The novel is written with simple complexity in that the seemingly simple prose reveals through careful analysis complexity that rivals any of Camus' favorite authors (Melville, Dostoyevsky, Kafka). The narrator claims to be writing a chronicle, but there are contrasts and mysteries that arise immediately including the question of the identity of the narrator. On page 6 we read that "the narrator (whose identity will be made known in due course". When that will be will have to wait until quite near the end of the novel. 

At any rate the narrator claims to have access to both his own witness of events, the testimony of other eyewitnesses and documents that record the events (this will include a journal that forms part of the subsequent text). The first person to whom we are introduced is Dr. Rieux who encounters rats almost immediately, but does not think much of that. We wondered why, especially after he notices a bleeding rat, that as a doctor he does not think about plague and disease, but he does not and that will have to wait. Our discussion will have to wait as well until next time when we plan to finish Part One.

The Plague by Albert Camus. Trans. by Stuart Gilbert. Vintage Books, New York. 1972 (1948)

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