Albert Camus

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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La Peste
The story is set in an ugly and boring town of Algeria among the French community. Bernard Rieux is a doctor, whose wife is sick. She is preparing to move to a sanatorium in the mountains and his mother is arriving to take care of him. Just then dead rats start appearing everywhere. It is clearly an epidemics that spreads throughout the town. Only the concierge of Rieux's building keeps saying that it's a bad joke by silly kids. Then one day the rats disappear. The concierge falls ill. Rieux is distracted by a call from his patient Jean Grand to visit a neighbor, Cottard, who has just tried to hang himself. When he returns home and visits the concierge, it's too late: the fever has increased dramatically and the man soon dies. It is only the beginning: people start dying of the mysterious fever. The newspapers that were clamoring about the dead rats are now silent: "rats died in the streets; men in their homes". Rieux is faced with the truth when a senior colleague arrives, Castel: he has no doubt that they are witnessing a plague, long believed to have disappeared from the Mediterranean. Jean Grand is a humble employee of the local administration and notices the alarming statistics of dead people. Cottard, a traveling salesman, has changed mood and has become his friend, Jean Grand lives on a meager salary (Rieux doesn't charge him for his visits) and is at work on a book, whose subject he keeps secret. As the number of deaths increases, the authorities are forced to declare a state of emergency and shut down the town. The townfolk is suddenly thrown in a state of isolation and loneliness. They live like exiles. Many of them are forcefully separated from their dear ones, like the journalist Raymond Rambert who begs Rieux for a certificate so that he can return to his wife. Rieux is dragged into a routine of deaths, and slowly develops a sort of indifference towards life. The priest tells the townfolk that the plague is sent by God to punish their sins. Tarrou, a learned tourist stuck in town, keeps a diary of life in the town, observing how its people went from being religious to being interested only in pleasure. He feels that he is above all of this: "Death means nothing to men like me. It's the event that proves them right". He is puzzled by a patient of Rieux, an old eccentric Spaniard who suffers from asthma, the only one who was originally delighted by the plague. Tarrou the observer approaches Rieux with a plan to create a corp of volunteers, aware that it will be dangerous for him. Tarrou interrogates Rieux about his motives for being a doctor. Rieux is an atheist who became a doctor just because he had to take a career. Having seen many people die, his mission is to fight death. He knows that he can never win, and that the plague means an endless defeat. Tarrou understands his mission, and claims that he has understood everything of life.
Tarrou and Rieux fight alongside each other to save the greatest number of lives. Rambert, instead, just wants to find a way to escape. He gets in touch with Cottard, for whom the plague has been a blessing: he has become a smuggler and is making lots of money. Cottard promises to help Rambert be smuggled out of town, but his connections cannot deliver. Rieux and Tarrou are aware of Rambert's endeavours and don't blame him. Tarrou, though, is like a missionary: after enrolling the priest, he tries with Cottard, guessing that Cottard must have a dirty past. Cottard admits that he could end up in jail for something he did, and that he tried to commit suicide to avoid jail. He then accepts to help Tarrou's army of volunteers. Next is Rambert himself. Rambert is sure that he is not being a coward: he fought in the Spanish civil war. However, he has had enough of heroes. Heroism without emotion does not strike him as valuable. He believes in love, and is witnessing a world that is rapidly losing any interest in love. Rieux replies that what he is doing is not heroism but simply human decency. Rambert accepts to help them until he finds a way to escape.
The plague gets worse. Individual destiny has now become collective destiny. Rieux and the volunteers are getting exhausted. When he finally found a smuggler ready to take him out of the town, Rambert surprises everybody by asking to stay. He doesn't feel like a stranger anymore and wants to keep helping the town. He has become one of them, working for a futile but collective goal. Castel works on a vaccine but the vaccine fails when tried on the very son of the chief magistrate. The priest dies. Meanwhile Rieux receives news that his wife's conditions have worsened. The magistrate, devastated by the death of his son, decides to join the volunteers.
Tarrour explains to Reiux his motive. As a child, he had witnessed a trial in which his father, a public prosecutor, had asked for the death penalty. Since then he had devoted his life to fighting the death penalty. However, he had come to realize that everybody, even he himself, is responsible for the killings.
Grand falls sick and Rieux despairs of saving him. Grand asks Rieux to destroy his book. Rieuz realizes that the book is simply one sentence repeated over and over again with small variations. However, Grand "resurrects" and promises to rewrite the book. Rats reapper in the streets. The number of deaths decreases dramatically. The only person who doesn't seem happy is Cottard. Now that the emergency is almost over the police are after him again.
Tarrou dies just when the plague is fading away. Rieux receives a telegram that his wife died. The gates open: end of the isolation and the exile. Cottard is arrested after a shootout. Rieux reveals to the reader that he is the anonymous chronicler who has been writing the book: he wanted to remain objective. He comments that the town enjoyed the end of the plague but it was a precarious joy. They had survived this one, and this way they were prepared for the next one.

Lo straniero

Meursault va al funerale della madre, morta sola in un ospizio; in piscina intreccia una relazione con Maria; il bruto Raimondo picchia la sua donna finché, un giorno, questa chiama la polizia; il vecchio Salamano è inconsolabile per la perdita del suo cane. Raimondo invita Meursault e Maria ad andare a trovare il suo amico Masson; due arabi, parenti dell'ex amante, lo seguono per vendicarsi, Raimondo e Masson l'aiutano a liberarsene; quando sulla spiaggia Meursault se ne trova di fronte uno armato di coltello, fa fuoco e l'uccide. Sembra indifferente a tutto ciò che gli accade, inerte, apatico; al processo non si difende, ascolta incuriosito testimoni, avvocati e giudice, che scavano nella sua vita privata. Viene condannato alla ghigliottina, ed ora aspetta l'alba dell'esecuzione, felice d'aver trovato qualcosa che l'interessa.

Translated by Jason Pierce)

Meursault goes to the funeral of his mother, who died alone in a nursing home; in the pool a relationship begins with a woman named Maria, the brute Raimondo beats and abuses his lady friend until, one day, she calls the police; the old Salamono is inconsolable as a result of the death of his dog. Raimondo invites Meursault and Maria to go visit his friend Masson; two Arabs, relatives of Meursault's ex-lover, follow him in order to take revenge on him, Raimondo and Masson help Meursault to break free; when Meursault finds himself on the beach in front of a knife-wielding man, he shoots and kills him. Meursault seems indifferent to all that happens to him, indolent, apathetic; at the trial he doesn't defend himself, he listen curiously to the witness's, the lawyers, and the judge, that dig into his private life. Ultimately, he is sentenced to death-by-guillotin! e, and he now waits for the dawn of his execution, happy to have found something that finally interests him.

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )