Who would have imagined that a 73-year-old novel called The Plague would have more than metaphorical significance in our own time? Yet here we are, beset by the coronavirus and still in possession of Albert Camus’s gorgeous and profound meditation on life in the shadow of death.
First published in French in 1947 and set in what was then the colonial Algerian city of Oran, the novel is often read as allegory, perhaps for occupied France under Nazi rule. Camus had lived through the occupation in Paris, risking his life to run the resistance newspaper Combat. It’s our dubious distinction that we can treat his novel of pestilence a good deal more literally than critics often have done.
Shutting yourself in for awhile? I can’t think of a better book to recommend to anyone just now. But business readers in particular will find it compelling on several fronts. It’s