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The Plague

Written by: Albert Camus
Narrated by: James Jenner
Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the small coastal city of Oran, Algeria, rats begin rising up from the filth, only to die as bloody heaps in the streets. Shortly after, an outbreak of the bubonic plague erupts and envelops the human population. Albert Camus' The Plague is a brilliant and haunting rendering of human perseverance and futility in the face of a relentless terror born of nature.
©1947 Librairie Gallimard (P)2006 Recorded Books
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A Pandemic’s Best Classic

I first read this book as assigned reading during university, and thus began a life-long devotion to the works of Albert Camus. But I was not fully prepared for the emotionally powerful experience of reading The Plague during the 2020 pandemic and seeing ourselves in every page. It is beautiful, haunting, compassionate and insightful.

5 people found this helpful

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Oblivion haunts us all!

I first read this book about 40 years ago and my memory of it had become very vague. Given today's headlines a revisit was in order.

This book is about the human condition--suffering and recovery, despair and hope, and uncertainty and confidence with the specter of death's inevitability all around. As characters look back on the outbreak and consider a memorial to the dead, Rieux notes that... "there will be speeches. I can almost hear them saying: our dear departed. Then they'll go off and have a snack... Just life!" This book is not a fun listen or read, but is thought provoking.

The narration by James Jenner is very good.

2 people found this helpful

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apt for our current age

the ending is beautifully dark and I enjoyed how quotable this book is. It is apt and erie how much this book applies to our age of Covid

1 person found this helpful

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One of the greatest novels of our time

Beautifully written , nicely read . The breadth and depth of creativity , imagination and deep understanding of human nature and our conditions in adversity make this work most inspiring, and thought provoking..

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Plain English
  • 2011-06-04

Translator Please!

Please please list the translator for books that come from other languages. Who did the translation and when makes an enormous difference in what we are reading! It is hard to make a choice without this knowledge.

In this case it is Stuart Gilbert, done in 1947 just as it was released in French. He renewed the copyright in 1975, presumably with some changes. But there is also a 2002 version by Robin Buss edited by Tony Judt -- so please, help us out here!

176 people found this helpful

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  • Tad Davis
  • 2019-01-17

Disappointing

I missed the boat on this one. I know many people who admire this novel, and one member of my family was profoundly moved by it. But somehow I wasn't able to connect with it.

After several striking scenes in the beginning, the book settles down into a glacial pace. There are a number of key characters in the story, and their viewpoints are effectively represented, but there's no real conflict. Everybody works together to get through the terrible calamity of bubonic plague — evolving later into the far more deadly and contagious pneumonic plague. The city is blocked off from the outside world in an effort to contain the epidemic. The death toll rises; every man — and they are all men — sucks it up and keeps working stoically.

And eventually the plague dies down, goes back into hibernation, and the city is reopened. Nobody knows why the plague erupted; nobody knows why it went away. There's a philosophical point to be made here, but I didn't find the story compelling enough to connect the dots.

James Jenner is an OK narrator, though his very American voice (certainly at least North American) doesn't mix well with the European ambience of the story. (It takes place in North Africa, but it's a French colony, and virtually everyone in the novel is French.) Some of his characters sound like they would feel at home in a Dashiell Hammett story.

It just didn't work for me.

21 people found this helpful

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  • smarmer
  • 2014-11-13

Brilliant as description and as metaphor

Any additional comments?

This is an amazing book. It works on so many levels. It is about plague itself, a topic of great interest in the Ebola, West Nile, and SARS era. It is about personal courage and duty. It is an exploration of human nature under stress. It addresses the nature of fate and individual response. It is about loyalty and friendship. It is also about how any plague spreads, be it viral, bacterial, or ideological.

Camus writes with a sparse but pungent style. He is intensely unsentimental. This is not to everyone's taste but I found it penetrating and moving as well as profoundly insightful.

The narration is excellent, capturing the subtleties of the various characters and situations.

Not an easy book and not "fun" but extremely worthwhile.

37 people found this helpful

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  • Hayden
  • 2016-09-23

great book

The writing of Camus has always been an inspiration for me and it was only made better by James Jenner's calm clear reading

10 people found this helpful

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  • Andy I Alegria
  • 2019-06-20

A good tale of how select people react to a crisis

The reader's voice is easy to understand, distinguishes well between most (but not all) characters, and goes just the right speed for my taste. The prose is well written to the point that I was sometimes concentrating less on the story and more on the author's choice of words, how he strung the words together, and his use of metaphors and similes. The message of the novel was not lost on me. *** That said, I will warn you that this is not a story about a plague, it is a story about people reacting to a plague. This is not action, horror, mystery, or suspense. This is a look into the minds and hearts of people as they deal with a crisis. If the prose were not so well written, I would have grown bored of the entire story - I did, in fact, get bored and distracted on occasion, but I was pulled back in when the author moved on to another character or another day's events. Though the setting is historical, the emotions the characters feel and the decisions they make are timeless. If you like when an author paints a vivid portrait of people with words, this book may be for you.

9 people found this helpful

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  • C. M. Rice
  • 2015-01-09

Great read

This was one of the best reads I have had in a long time. I recommend this book to everyone.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Wade Lancaster
  • 2019-11-19

Close Down The Town

Perfect Camus. The plot still glistens with situations that are still significant today. Really timeless themes that still resonate today.
Short, concise, and well written just like most of his novels. Narration is good and complements the material.

Some people think Camus is difficult to get into. This could be because of his existential leanings. Otherwise, his works are easily accessible.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Phillip Joe Fitzsimmons
  • 2019-06-17

All time favorite

This has been one of my all time favorite novels for decades. It is an engaging account by a medical doctor of the progress of a plague. The book contains memorable characters who demonstrate many aspects of humanity throughout the story.

The voice talent is solid. He doesn't change voices for characters. It is a straightforward performance.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Gregory
  • 2015-01-09

It teaches the reader the value of patience.

Interesting history and insights into human behavior but a tedious and labored read at best. However, it has its moments if the reader can "hang in there" long enough to find them.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan Garland
  • 2020-04-05

Camus can really dissect an epidemic over it’s various emotions

I’m listening to this one again while my current town (Seattle) is shut down due to coronavirus. Many of these similarities of the plague dreamt up in theory by Camus helps make sense of the times that we are currently living through right now. Epidemics deal will so much tragedy, yet Camus points out no matter how dismal it may seem, there is always more to admire in humans rather than despise.

2 people found this helpful