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The Disease Narrative in Albert Camus’ The Plague

Ya Fen Huang
English Language and Literature Studies , Volume 11; doi:10.5539/ells.v11n1p1

Abstract: In many literary works, a character’s physical disease or illness also metaphorically references various universal characteristics of the human condition—death, religion, politics and relationships—as they are interworked amidst healthy and unhealthy bodies. In the case of Albert Camus’ The Plague, the epidemic of bubonic plague in the Algerian port city of Oran is considered an allegory for the German occupation of France from 1940 to 1944. The highly infectious disease disrupts citizens’ lives in real time, with consequences that further manifest throughout the world to varying degrees and in varying timeframes thereafter. This paper attempts to explore Camus’s metaphoric connotations of “the plague” within these social, cultural and historical narratives. This interdisciplinary study will also bring together analyses of literary and non-literary texts about the disease narrative, while also addressing literary theories related to medical science in order to better understand the allegorical definitions of illness, death, disability and exile in The Plague.
Keywords: death / literary / illness / plague / narratives / Albert Camus / metaphoric / disease narrative

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