Views & Reviews Between the Lines

An injection of fear

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 16 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3216
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    In The Plague, published in 1947, Albert Camus made use of epidemic disease as a metaphor for the Nazi invasion and occupation of France (see Medical Classics, BMJ 2007;335:567, doi:10.1136/bmj.39317.641146.4E). But this was not the first such use of epidemic as metaphor for the occupation: in 1943 Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a film script, Typhus, in which an outbreak of that disease did so.

    By the time he wrote Typhus, which was never filmed as written, it was clear that the Germans were not going to win the second world war. Sartre set the action in colonial Malaya, of whose geography he seemed curiously ignorant, apparently believing that the peninsula was …

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