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Analysis: Genre

Philosophical Literature

Let’s face it: the point of The Plague is not to talk about a plague. (Misleading, isn’t it?) The novel is clearly a pulpit from which Camus can explore and explain his philosophical viewpoints, in this case the absurd, humanism, and, though he eschewed the label, existentialism. We see little pieces of each of these philosophies ingrained in the novel: the existentialist concern over time and consciousness, the absurdist claim that the world is both irrational and indifferent, and the humanist belief that man is more good than bad and worth fighting for – even against deadly infections. We know the novel is philosophical literature because the focus is clearly the ideas, not the plot, which exists only to support those very ideas. Notice how half the novel is thoughtful exposition or intense argumentative dialogue? Exactly.

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