Published in 1947 and sold out all over town in spring 2020, it was worth re-reading The Plague simply to appreciate, not only how well written, but how psychologically accurate is Camus’s depict of lockdown mentality. As an allegory of the Occupation, The Plague represents an imaginative feat that ticks off marker after marker of the stages of an infected community in siege - disbelief, denial, paranoia, fear, accommodation, ennui.
The daily routine of life, punctuated only by funerals and weather, continues, with its fatal need for human contact and its dreams of escape - intoxicating but ultimately abortive. The description of an illicit night swim in the ocean ‘for friendship’s sake’ took me wild swimming when restrictions permitted, and it was every bit as relieving an interlude as Camus described. ‘For a few minutes they swam on with equal stroke and equal strength, alone, far from the world, finally free of the town and the plague.’
Cate West trained in Fine Art and graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2019. She was shortlisted for York Festival of Writing’s Friday Night Live Competition and long listed for Mslexia’s Novel Competition in 2019. Cate teaches Creative Writing and is passionate about outsider narratives. She lives and works in the Midlands. Publications: ‘The Blue Pool’ in The Invisible Collection, ed. Nicholas Royle (Nightjar Press, 2020); ‘Imbolc,’ Lunate, January 2021.