Thursday, December 03, 2020

The Plague (1)

Exile. A condition mostly associated with wandering around, usually quite freely, away from a fixed point in space. 

Yet in The Plague Albert Camus hits on the fact that sometimes it is when our freedom of movement is at its most limited that this sense of displacement takes hold, perhaps because it is subtly informed by time as well as space. 
"It was the feeling of exile that this hollow that we constantly carried in us, this precise emotion, the unreasonable desire to go back or on the contrary to press the march of time, these burning arrows of memory.”
I think you can probably detect, as I did, that there is something a bit off about this English translation, so it wasn't long before I switched to Castellano, a language into which the French shifts rather more naturally and elegantly. 

Further examples to follow. Soaked characters. The translator was really even trying there. 

Before I tucked into this novel I was unaware that it is widely understood as an allegory for the rise of fascism, so it is in some ways a doubly deserving read for 2020. 

As far as I know, Camus never directly experienced the constrictions of an epidemic, but he apparently had a good idea of their psychological effects on a community in quarantine — specifically how they mess with everyone's conditioned sense of past, present and future.

I've been living away from the place of my birth for many years now, and it could be argued that a sense of exile has been slithering up to me. Brexit in 2016, changed family circumstances back in the UK and so on. But the pandemic and 'partial confinement' have crystalised its presence in my psyche. 

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