my review: la peste

recently i finished reading ‘the plague’ by albert camus, a meticulously crafted, philosophical novel, written with scientific clarity as well as breathtaking lyricism.

one of my favorite conversations, towards the end of the book, is between tarrou and the book’s protagonist, dr rieux. it’s a masterpiece.

first the convo itself. it’s a personal side of tarrou we’ve never seen before. there is an unsentimental, uncomplicated common decency/sense of justice to him that i find beautiful. here’s tarrou:

..So that is why I resolved to have no truck with anything which, directly or indirectly, for good reasons or for bad, brings death to anyone or justifies others’ putting him to death.

…The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention. And it needs tremendous will-power, a never ending tension of the mind, to avoid such lapses.

…I’d come to realize that all our troubles spring from our failure to use plain, clean-cut language. So I resolved always to speak, and to act, quite clearly, as this was the only way of setting myself on the right track.

…After a short silence the doctor raised himself a little in his chair and asked if Tarrou had an idea of the path to follow for attaining peace. “Yes,” he replied. “The path of sympathy.”

then rieux says:

…I feel more fellowship with the defeated than with saints. Heroism and sanctity don’t really appeal to me, I imagine. What interests me is being a man.

a brilliant exchange after which they go for a swim, to get away from the pestilence and its ravages, and camus describes the vast, velvety, moonlit expanse of the sea heaving gently.

a must read.

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