The Plague – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Have you ever read Albert Camus’ The Plague? If not, I recommend it, if only for a particular scene which really struck a chord with me. It was when the two men, Tarrou and Rieux, go swimming in the ocean and don’t say a single thing as they escape the city, just for a night.
In the book, Camus writes: “une mer tojours égale”, which translates to, “the unchanging sea.” Camus writes about how, over time, the sea becomes less and less real to the Oranians that it becomes something far away and inaccessible. He writes, “although the sea is there, it exists in the background.”
When the two men swim out together into the sea, he writes: “solitaires, loin du monde, libérés enflin de la ville et de la peste” (“Alone, far from the world, at last free of the city and the plague.”)
I think this particular scene has the character of a symbolic ritual.
When they swim back together with the evening lights of the city visible in the distance, the chapter ends, “qu’il fallait maintenant recommencer.” (“It was now necessary to begin again.”)
They return with a strange and secret happiness.
“It was now necessary to begin again.”
It’s a sense of having been recalled to something, to have that experience and be conscious of it in that way.
To be conscious of a “first.”
And it immediately makes me think about another part in The Plague where Rieux tells Tarrou that it’s easier to be a saint than a man.