- Tapa dura: 288 páginas
- Editor: Editora y Distribuidora Hispano Americana, S.A. (4 de noviembre de 2006)
- Colección: Diamante
- Idioma: Español
- ISBN-10: 8435034658
- ISBN-13: 978-8435034654
- Valoración media de los clientes: 4 opiniones de clientes
- Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: nº304.949 en Libros (Ver el Top 100 en Libros)
La peste (edición 60 aniversario) (Diamante)
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Sin duda mucho peso tuvo esta novela en la decisión de conceder a su autor el premio Nobel de Literatura en 1957: cumbre de la narrativa de este siglo, amarga y penetrante alegoría de un mundo al que sólo una catástrofe logra rehumanizar. Novela apasionante, de gran densidad y de profunda comprensión del ser humano, se ha convertido en uno de los clásicos más indiscutibles de la literartura francesa de todos los tiempos y en uno de los más leídos.
Albert Camus (19131960), fue un autor comprometido con los acontecimientos históricos que conmovieron Europa antes y después de la segunda guerra mundial. Periodista combativo, disidente de todas las ortodoxias de su tiempo, polemista incansable, escribió libros tan fundamentales en nuestra cultura como "La peste", "El extranjero", y otras.
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Oran is ugly, says Camus. There is no design to it. There is no greenery. It is all about business, and making money. The population is approximately 200,000. The novel can be read at several levels. There is, simply, the Public Health issue of a plague epidemic. Camus seemed to know this issue fairly well. He cites several historical precedents. He knows the pathology of the disease itself, and how it might mutate. There is the initial denial of the problem, particularly by the non-medical authorities, who do not want to “create panic” (always a worthwhile goal) in the population. But denial usually leads to a delay in undertaking the appropriate prophylactic and counter measures. Are sufficient vaccines available, and are they of the right genetic strain? Misinformation repeatedly sweeps through the population, since the authorities repeatedly attempt to “spin” their own version of events. And then how does it finally end? Sometimes the plague killed virtually everyone in a city. Most famously, the “Black Death” of the 14th century killed a third of Europe’s population. Camus uses the figure of 100 million deaths throughout human history due to the plague. Like so much of life in general, there are simple so many unknowns on how the plague bacillus spreads through a population. More recent epidemics, such as AIDS and Ebola came to mind, which have followed a similar trajectory of outbreak, spread, countermeasure, and eventual subsidence, with reservoirs remaining, as Camus reminds us, set to irrupt again under the right circumstances.
It is an absurd world! (And recent events have made it even a bit more absurd!) Camus, who would win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, was famous for contributing to a philosophy known as absurdism. How does a rationale person live, in a world without a god, and deal honorable with so much absurdity?
This novel address the issue of absurdity. Camus populates the novel with 15-20 characters. The story is told from the point of view of a “narrator,” whose identity is only revealed at the end. There is Father Paneloux, a Jesuit, who preaches in the grand cathedral to overflow crowd, tells the Biblical stories of the plague in Egypt and blames the people’s sins for god’s wrath. He too would have his hour of trial, and he seeks god’s salvation, and eschews the more earthly remedies. There is Raymond Rambert, a reporter and a non-native of Oran, who is caught in the city when the gates are shut, so that no one can leave, and spread the plague to other locales. He plots, and schemes on ways of getting back to Paris to see his girlfriend. He is a veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Which side, he is asked? “The side that lost.” He has had enough of struggles, and yet when he has the actual opportunity to leave, stays, to fight another “good fight” thereby providing meaning to his life. There is the thin, gawky city functionary, Joseph Grand, who faithfully records the statistics that are the quantitative measure of the impact of the plague.
The main character, Dr. Bernard Rieux, is an admirable one. No grand outlook. Simple a good doctor, whose calling has lead him to fight the disease, treat the patients, even at serious risk to himself. When others whine about separation from love ones, he never mentions his own separation from his wife, who lives outside the walls. It is the small daily acts of good, like visiting the old asthmatic patient who is one of the survivors, that provides the necessary meaning to his life.
It has been a long overdue reading of a classic work. For it was a quarter century after the fictional depiction of the plague in Oran that I would personally have to deal with the plague. As a Medical Corpsman in Vietnam I gave approximately 200-300 inoculations against the plague to the men in my unit. The concern about the plague was not “abstract,” and there were always those above cited rumors of cases occurring and yes, like the authorities in Oran, the American military censored all talk of the disease (not wanting to “create panic”). What was not “abstract” were the rats, and they were our daily living companions. We had the ability and did practice the proper field sanitation to prevent cholera. But we did not have the ability to properly dispose and bury all kitchen waste which was simple dumped outside the firebase, in the open, and proved to be a wonderful breeding-ground for our furry friends. Just like something out of the Middle Ages. I never saw an actual case of the plague, nor even a “suspected” one as Rieux might cautiously classify. A recent internet search confirmed that the plague was widespread in South Vietnam by 1970, and there were eight confirmed cases of American soldiers, who had been inoculated, contracting the disease.
Camus’ work resonated strongly. A much overdue read. 5-stars, plus.