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Medicine as an Absurdist Quest in Albert Camus’ The Plague

Author(s): Robert J. Bonk

Journal: Eä : Revista de Humanidades Médicas & Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología
ISSN 1852-4680

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: absurdity | Albert Camus | existentialism | medicine | plague

As a social construct, modern medicine reflects a society’s paradigms and perspectives. Within a modern technological age of increasing estrangement, intellectuals developed new philosophies such as absurdism—as well as literature reflecting these paradigms—that soon questioned whether a “magic bullet” could ever offer a panacea for antiseptic institutions. One exemplar is French-Algerian writer Albert Camus. In his 1947 novel The Plague, Camus quarantines the inhabitants of Oran in a struggle against a bubonic-like epidemic. Within this microcosm, Camus juxtaposes medicine against government and religion in his quest to find medical meaning in an absurd world.

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