A Mirror in Fiction: Drawing Parallelisms Between Camus’s La Peste and COVID-19

Article Summary by César Pérez Romero

Fiction is a particular mirror of reality. It does not look to merely reflect it: it tries to enhance it in order to build art from it. Nowadays, when the entire world faces an unprecedented public health crisis (COVID-19), taking a look at fiction about epidemics constitutes a highly evoking experience. The French writer Albert Camus, born in Algeria in 1913, left us a magnificent piece of this type of fiction with his novel La peste (1947). While narrating an epidemic of plague in the Algerian town of Oran, he introduces us to the core matters of epidemics, both concerning the social level (lock-downs, curfews, overwhelmed hospitals…) and the individual (separation of relatives, despair, altruism and sense of duty…). Camus—philosopher, journalist, novelist and playwright—achieves in La peste the aforementioned goal of fiction: he makes art from human experiences. And we, current readers surrounded by COVID-19, may be surprised when noticing that many paragraphs in La peste seem to relate to our own current life.

 

César Pérez Romero PortraitCésar Pérez Romero is a Medical Resident in Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Carlos III Health Institute (Madrid, Spain). He obtained his Medical Degree in 2017, and his Master in Public Health in 2019. He complements his professional dedication to public health with studies in progress of a Bachelor Degree in Spanish Language and Literature. He is interested in medical humanities, literature and linguistics and the cultural aspects of health.

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