Views & Reviews Medical classics

The Plague

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 13 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:567
  1. Jerome Kassirer, distinguished professor, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
  1. jpkassirer{at}

    Camus's classic account of the plague in Oran, a coastal city in Algeria, is a moving portrayal of love, longing, exile, abandonment, loneliness, and the tragedy of separation. Some consider it an allegory of Nazi totalitarianism; others as a commentary on existentialism, the absurdity of life itself. Yet it is a lifelike description of the scourge of an epidemic and the futile efforts of Dr Bernard Rieux to cope with horrendously ill individuals and the spread of disease. Rieux, who had no effective treatment, often stayed at his patients' bedsides through their entire excruciatingly painful and prolonged deaths. The narrator …

    View Full Text

    Sign in

    Log in through your institution

    Free trial

    Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
    Sign up for a free trial