Narrative Medicine Book Club: May 2, 2020

And so we reach the end of Camus’ plague, and the end of the novel. The narrator is revealed, and expresses his desire to  be an “objective witness,” taking “the side of the victim,” “on the basis of the only certainties [we] all have in common, which are love, suffering and exile.” The last paragraph reminds us of what is true for plagues and also for evil, Camus’ true subject: that “the plague bacillus never dies or vanishes entirely,” but can remain dormant and return “for the instruction or misfortune of mankind.” Still, Rieux’s conclusion — what “one learns in the midst of such tribulations” – is, ultimately, “that there is more in men to admire than to despise.” 


Thank you for joining us for this experience!! Looking forward to our last meeting tomorrow at 12pm, with translator Laura Marris – register at http://www.narrativemedicine.blog/narrative-medicine-book-club. See you then! 

3 thoughts on “Narrative Medicine Book Club: May 2, 2020

  1. Jayne Mackta

    Camus remains conflicted to the bitter(sweet) end. The Narrator has tried to be objective…observing just the facts. Throughout he has battled against abstractions. He concludes that the plague or death can’t be defeated… For Rieux, it is “a never ending defeat” and we must ask what both the Narrator and his more engaged self have learned about life having survived the plague/evil this time. Didn’t Tarrou, who imagined he knew everything about life, believe that evil comes from ignorance? But “understanding” or “comprehension” — his answer to ignorance and the essence of his moral code, doesn’t save him. And isn’t it ironic that Paneloux, the moral arbiter who leaves no room for doubt by limiting human choice to believing or denying everything, dies of the plague and “Against his name the index card recorded: Doubtful case.”

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    • Lisa Kympton

      And isn’t it ironic that Paneloux, the moral arbiter who leaves no room for doubt by limiting human choice to believing or denying everything, dies of the plague and “Against his name the index card recorded: Doubtful case.”

      Love that you pointed out the contrast between his all or nothing stance and the verdict of his death.

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  2. Patricia Dobkin

    It was wonderful to have Laura enlighten us about translation.

    I would like to extend an invitation to MDs and other health care professionals to join my project: True Stories From the Front: Facing COVID-19. Your narraitves should describe experiences and lessons learned in 1,500 words. I will publish these stories either in our International J of Whole Person Care (I am the editor- there are no fees as it is on a McGill Medical School platform) in January 2021 or, if I have enough to work with in a book like my first edited book:
    Mindful Medical Practice: Clincal Narratives and Therapeutic Insights (2015, Springer Press).
    Please email me if you are interested in writing with me and 20 others (so far, and counting). Their voices will be heard and we will all learn from each other.
    Contact me directly at:
    patirica.dobkin@mcgill.ca

    It has been a pleasure to have shared The Plague in this book club with you all. Kindly, Patricia

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