By Jennifer Cooke
This e-book is an account of the heritage and continuation of plague as a powerful metaphor because the disorder ceased to be a virulent disease chance in Western Europe, engaging with twentieth-century opinions of fascism, anti-Semitic rhetoric, the Oedipal legacy of psychoanalysis and its reception, and movie spectatorship and the zombie style.
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Additional resources for Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film
However, her formulation is not entirely satisfactory, on several counts. Firstly, if Camus’s The Plague is to be accepted as an allegory or an imaginative substitute for the (unimaginability of the) Second War World and the Holocaust, what this manifestly fails to address, and where it becomes an abstraction, is in the implicit alignment of the events of the war with an inexplicable force of nature, plague. Such a move naturalises horror, removing the need for a historical, political and social investigation of the causes and events of war: like Oran’s plague, the war would thus be a tragedy that arrived without warning, killed without reason and ceased without explanation.
I am not even sure that I shall finish it’ (89). Plagued by The Plague, his confidence was infected with doubt about the novel, on and off, for the seven years it took to finalise the text. Even upon completion, Camus was uncertain; Olivier Todd, in his biography Albert Camus: A Life, quotes from his letters: On August 21st he [Camus] reported, ‘I have worked so much that yesterday I finished my book. I should be happy, but I cannot yet judge. I am blind in the face of this bizarre book, whose form is slightly monstrous.
Grand had been plagued for a writer’s lifetime by this one sentence which, although it dissatisfied him and caught him within a circular paralysis, at least enabled him to continue being a writer, battling with the authorial self, as Cixous describes. His sentence tells the tiny tale of a woman riding a mare down a Parisian street: perhaps the shortest piece of ‘flash fiction’ ever, and one subjected by Grand to the ‘logic of repetition’ which Gomel sees as a feature of plague narratives. Plague infection kills Grand’s authorial desire, but having fought plague successfully he states his resolve to begin the novel anew.