January 24, 2021 – Albert Camus – The Plague, 1947
“Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world, yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”
“Many continued hoping that the epidemic would soon die out and they and their families be spared. Thus they felt under no obligation to make any change in their habits, as yet. Plague was an unwelcome visitant, bound to take its leave one day as unexpectedly as it had come.”
“What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of the plague as well. It helps men to rise above themselves. All the same, when you see the misery it brings, you’d need to be a madman, or a coward, or stone blind, to give in tamely to the plague.”
“If there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love.”
From the BostonReview: In his time Camus also spoke with passion about the threats that ideology, disinformation, and cynicism posed for liberal democracy, as in Neither Victims nor Executioners (1946): “The long dialogue among men has just come to an end. Naturally, a man who will not listen is a man to be feared.” Camus is a thinker for our age of pandemic and polarization. He sought to transcend the divides of his own epoch by warning against dogmatic ideologies on both the left and right, all while earnestly defending democracy and humanity. His writings have acquired an ageless quality. The Plague recounted how a deathly virus destabilized society. It embodied the legacy of an author who passionately explored how to live in an “absurd” world where relentless injustice can test our hope.
On Receiving the Noble Prize in Literature in 1957
“Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself. Heir to a corrupt history, in which are mingled fallen revolutions, technology gone mad, dead gods, and worn-out ideologies, where mediocre powers can destroy all yet no longer know how to convince, where intelligence has debased itself to become the servant of hatred and oppression, this generation starting from its own negations has had to re-establish, both within and without, a little of that which constitutes the dignity of life and death.”