Loyola University Chicago

Language Learning Resource Center

Reading Camus Today

 Alice Kaplan (Yale University) and Laura Marris (the University at Buffalo)

October 28, 2020 4:00-5:15 pm CST on Zoom

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Albert Camus’s novel The Plague will go down in literary history as the most talked about book of the Covid-19 crisis. Originally intended as an allegory of World War II, this story of an epidemic has been a staple of literature classes since 1947. Generations of students have learned that Camus was “really” writing about his experience of World War II. This March, that reading tradition was transformed. The epidemic brought the novel close to readers who began to read it as a book about their own lives—a book to help them get through a global health crisis. Keeping in mind this new readership, we will offer a personal and literary meditation on living and working with The Plague during a global pandemic.

Alice Kaplan is Sterling Professor of French at Yale University and the director of the Whitney Humanities Center. Her most recent book is Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Laura Marris is an author and translator. Her latest project, a new translation of Camus’s The Plague, is forthcoming from Knopf. She teaches creative writing at the University at Buffalo.


Further reading:

“‘A Matter of Common Decency’: What Literature Can Teach Us About Epidemics,” NPR, April 1, 2020.

Laura Marris, “Camus’s Inoculation Against Hate,” New York Times, April 16, 2020.