Narrative Medicine Book Club: April 20, 2020

At the beginning of Part IV we get a discussion of the exhaustion that has taken over the town, and the way that without a cure for the plague, Rieux’s role has gone from that of “a healer” to that of “a diagnostician.” He has “just enough heart” to “use it to bear the 20 hours a day in which he saw men dying who were made for life.” An exhaustion has set in that numbs them all, against the suffering but also against the very precautions that are meant to protect them against the plague. An eery statement, in our moment: “It was the very struggle against the plague that made them more vulnerable to the plague.” An interesting piece about Cottard, too, whom we spoke about in our meeting on Sunday: a character who is thriving, in a way, under the Plague, because he is no longer isolated, instead united with everyone else in the condition of hardship. 

FOR TOMORROW: Next 7 pages, up to “Tarrou looked at him and smiled suddenly,” in the second section of Part IV. 

2 thoughts on “Narrative Medicine Book Club: April 20, 2020

  1. Patricia D.

    I am struck, throughout the book, how the changing weather and its vivid descriptions mirror the events and moods of the characters. During both sermons we feel the ominous winds, hear the roar of rain, taste dry dust swirling in the streets. It’s like a painting reflecting the stark reality that is impossible to turn away from.


  2. Anne C.

    Yes there is this constant description about the “natural world” which seems to reflect the tumult of the plague within the city but then there is this interesting review of the opera as it reflects “the plague on stage in the guise of a disarticulate mummer, and in the auditorium the toys of luxury, so futile now, forgotten fans and lace shawls derelict on the red plush seats.” This “mythical story” Within the allegory Camus has created, there suddenly appears this entertainment within the theatre. It is so jarringly out of context with the suffering that is taking place without the city. And then the narrator moves on without further critigue to Rambert’s continuing attempt to escape. The flow of events feels like the ups and downs one would expect when seeking without success to find normalcy.


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