Plagas en la literatura

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  • Publicado : 24 de junio de 2010
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In an increasingly interdependent world, where human contacts are multiplied through trade and travel-viruses, bacteria and parasites spread more quickly than ever. With the increasing globalization, dizzying urbanization, climate change and the possible acts of bioterrorism and genetic manipulation, we become more likely to get in contact with dangerous or fatal diseases.
Medical conditionsdate back to the origins of history with cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria and dysentery.
The Old world was plagued by diseases that spread rapidly as an epidemic or pandemic causing huge slaughters. These epidemics received the name of pest.
Before Hippocrates had established the rules of medical science, epidemics where considered as an effect of divine wrath, a punishment for thesinners.
Greece was affected in 428 BC by one of the most deathly pest in the world, the Athens plague. The Roman Empire was not spared from diseases, too. Marcus Aurelius was the first infected of Roman pest in III AC, in which 500 people died per day.
Between 1347 and 1360 the bubonic plague transmitted through rats, caused one of the biggest epidemics suffered by humanity through history. For thefirst time the world population suffered a significant decrease. In less than a decade killed 25 million Europeans.
In 1918 during the World War I, the Spanish Flu caused 25 million deaths.
During the past 50 years, more than 100 new diseases that threaten mankind had been identified. In less than a generation a dark and unknown virus became the most dangerous pandemic known in history: AIDS,eclipsing the Black Death which affected Europe in the XIV century. It also happens with new dangerous diseases such as Ebola fever, avian and swine flu, among others.
And the list goes on and on.
It is a certain fact that contagious diseases and epidemics don’t respect boundaries. Not even the literature ones.
A writer is like a dog searching for a bone. Historical events, dramatic situations,social revolutions, and even plagues, encourage them to write.
The pandemic plague is the representation of an extreme situation for humankind: a non ending war between the body and the society having as an only weapon the immune system and getting as a reward the “possibility” to survive.
A society “plagued”, sick, at moral war, is the argument in The Plague, novel written by Albert Camus in1947 and which I had the pleasure to read in 2008.
In a city called Oran is a strange plague of rats, which rise from the sewers to die on the streets. Dr. Rieux is placed as the main character and a certain hero, who saw the situation in his own apartment. He is the first to notice that something unnatural is going on. The doctor decides to investigate with the help of another doctor, Castel.Together they found out that the rats were the carriers of a virus transmissible to humans.
After several deaths and fights with the government that doesn’t accept the emergency, and the Church, commanded by Reverend Paneloux, who affirmed that the epidemic will affect only those who are not committed to the kingdom of God.
They end up closing the gates of the city as an accurate action that will“save” the healthy ones.
While infected people adapt to the exile, Oran is closed to the out world. Trade falls, speculation grows, prices rise and people are inactive.
With this environment people try to “live” but Camus is clear with one point. They are dead. Society now is only a parasite for the plague. They change places ironically.
At the end of the story the author place us in aninteresting situation: a game.
A game in which humans don’t know the rules. The Plague starts playing with Oreans’ minds making them believe that she is gone. The infected cases seem to decrease but she is still there. Torturing and scaring them.
A happy ending not well received, at least for me, is the culmination of The Plague. People go out, start parting and having all the fun that they...
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