The Plague

Narrated by: James Jenner
Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,285 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the small coastal city of Oran, Algeria, rats begin rising up from the filth, only to die as bloody heaps in the streets. Shortly after, an outbreak of the bubonic plague erupts and envelops the human population. Albert Camus' The Plague is a brilliant and haunting rendering of human perseverance and futility in the face of a relentless terror born of nature.
©1947 Librairie Gallimard (P)2006 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Plague

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Translator Please!

Please please list the translator for books that come from other languages. Who did the translation and when makes an enormous difference in what we are reading! It is hard to make a choice without this knowledge.

In this case it is Stuart Gilbert, done in 1947 just as it was released in French. He renewed the copyright in 1975, presumably with some changes. But there is also a 2002 version by Robin Buss edited by Tony Judt -- so please, help us out here!

185 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I missed the boat on this one. I know many people who admire this novel, and one member of my family was profoundly moved by it. But somehow I wasn't able to connect with it.

After several striking scenes in the beginning, the book settles down into a glacial pace. There are a number of key characters in the story, and their viewpoints are effectively represented, but there's no real conflict. Everybody works together to get through the terrible calamity of bubonic plague — evolving later into the far more deadly and contagious pneumonic plague. The city is blocked off from the outside world in an effort to contain the epidemic. The death toll rises; every man — and they are all men — sucks it up and keeps working stoically.

And eventually the plague dies down, goes back into hibernation, and the city is reopened. Nobody knows why the plague erupted; nobody knows why it went away. There's a philosophical point to be made here, but I didn't find the story compelling enough to connect the dots.

James Jenner is an OK narrator, though his very American voice (certainly at least North American) doesn't mix well with the European ambience of the story. (It takes place in North Africa, but it's a French colony, and virtually everyone in the novel is French.) Some of his characters sound like they would feel at home in a Dashiell Hammett story.

It just didn't work for me.

23 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant as description and as metaphor

Any additional comments?

This is an amazing book. It works on so many levels. It is about plague itself, a topic of great interest in the Ebola, West Nile, and SARS era. It is about personal courage and duty. It is an exploration of human nature under stress. It addresses the nature of fate and individual response. It is about loyalty and friendship. It is also about how any plague spreads, be it viral, bacterial, or ideological.

Camus writes with a sparse but pungent style. He is intensely unsentimental. This is not to everyone's taste but I found it penetrating and moving as well as profoundly insightful.

The narration is excellent, capturing the subtleties of the various characters and situations.

Not an easy book and not "fun" but extremely worthwhile.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

great book

The writing of Camus has always been an inspiration for me and it was only made better by James Jenner's calm clear reading

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A good tale of how select people react to a crisis

The reader's voice is easy to understand, distinguishes well between most (but not all) characters, and goes just the right speed for my taste. The prose is well written to the point that I was sometimes concentrating less on the story and more on the author's choice of words, how he strung the words together, and his use of metaphors and similes. The message of the novel was not lost on me. *** That said, I will warn you that this is not a story about a plague, it is a story about people reacting to a plague. This is not action, horror, mystery, or suspense. This is a look into the minds and hearts of people as they deal with a crisis. If the prose were not so well written, I would have grown bored of the entire story - I did, in fact, get bored and distracted on occasion, but I was pulled back in when the author moved on to another character or another day's events. Though the setting is historical, the emotions the characters feel and the decisions they make are timeless. If you like when an author paints a vivid portrait of people with words, this book may be for you.

9 people found this helpful

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Great read

This was one of the best reads I have had in a long time. I recommend this book to everyone.

8 people found this helpful

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Close Down The Town

Perfect Camus. The plot still glistens with situations that are still significant today. Really timeless themes that still resonate today.
Short, concise, and well written just like most of his novels. Narration is good and complements the material.

Some people think Camus is difficult to get into. This could be because of his existential leanings. Otherwise, his works are easily accessible.

6 people found this helpful

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Camus can really dissect an epidemic over it’s various emotions

I’m listening to this one again while my current town (Seattle) is shut down due to coronavirus. Many of these similarities of the plague dreamt up in theory by Camus helps make sense of the times that we are currently living through right now. Epidemics deal will so much tragedy, yet Camus points out no matter how dismal it may seem, there is always more to admire in humans rather than despise.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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All time favorite

This has been one of my all time favorite novels for decades. It is an engaging account by a medical doctor of the progress of a plague. The book contains memorable characters who demonstrate many aspects of humanity throughout the story.

The voice talent is solid. He doesn't change voices for characters. It is a straightforward performance.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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It teaches the reader the value of patience.

Interesting history and insights into human behavior but a tedious and labored read at best. However, it has its moments if the reader can "hang in there" long enough to find them.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Miss
  • 05-18-19

if you cant stand mouth sounds dont buy.

Ok so the story is a classic but the narrators mouth sounds drove me mad - couldn't finish it.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Lightning Brother
  • 05-15-19

Embarrassing mangling of French names

Classic and fascinating work, but spoiled by jarring mis-pronunciations of French names.

I can forgive the irritating American accent (the narrator is American, so I had little choice; and I'm taking it that Audible is aimed primarily at an American market). His delivery was good, with acceptable variations of intonation, emotion and tone.

However, there were some unforgivable mis-pronunciations of French names, including "Rioo" for "Rieux"; "Tooroo" for "Tarrou". Most comical(?) was being misled into thinking Grand had entered into a gay marriage, being partnered with "Jean" (rather than "Jeanne").

If someone puts themselves out as a reader of (translated) French literature, I would expect them, as a minimum, to research and practice the pronunciation of names in French, which are usually exempt from translation; they are pronounced in the original French. This guy had clearly not been paying attention in his school French lessons.

I'm not asking for crisp English RP: that would be excruciating in itself. I'm just asking that Audible narrators of French translations make a damn' effort when it comes to names and other words that are not subject to translation. Think about it: a good proportion of listeners will have an interest in the French language, if not a decent knowledge of it. To put out narration of this (sub-)standard is insulting and patronising.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Michal Z
  • 12-09-19

Slow narration, too many long pauses.

Slow narration, too many long pauses. I kept losing the plot all the time, not an easy listen.

7 people found this helpful

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  • S.
  • 04-22-20

Diaspointing

The translation is in very idiomatic American english.
Also the narator has a strong American Accent.
These two factors spoiled to book for me as an English listener.
Maybe if you are American you wouldnt notice it, but for me it really jarred. Any sense of time and place were lost.

Also, perhaps more fundementally, the story is quite dull.

6 people found this helpful

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  • laura_w0
  • 04-25-20

Thoroughly enjoyed despite current times

Beautifully narrated. I enjoyed the similarities to our current situation, although please be warned it's not for those who are suffering during our present ordeal due to graphic descriptions of death and illness.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Gerwin Evers
  • 03-22-20

Classics never grow old

Such a well written, narrated and relevant story in today's Corona time. Although its differences, there are so many parallels with the current events.

4 people found this helpful

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  • AR Kispal
  • 06-13-20

Not “unprecedented” times.

Read this first 30 odd years ago and circumstances have made me want to revisit again now. Am in awe that Camus anticipated so accurately how people would behave and react in the face of pandemic, lockdown, confinement.

Cannot believe that other listeners are more concerned with the accent/pronunciation than the content and message. Though completely British myself, I loved the accent of this narration and ignored the mispronunciations.

2 people found this helpful

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  • John Harrison
  • 06-09-20

A very moving account.

I found James Jenner's narration extremely moving. He reads with an urgency and sense of bewilderment verging on wonder that matches the theme, and conveys more intimate, inner moments - of which there are many - with tenderness. An unforgettable experience. 'Hats off!' as Joseph Grand would say. I enjoyed spending almost 11 hours in his company.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-03-20

Brilliant book by a brilliant writer

Camus is amazing I don’t think that is anything people did not know already. This work has come to the forefront again due to the current pandemic but speaks of how we are all constantly living with the plague but that we cannot deal with it so we push it away and avoid it but that times like our current situation make it unavoidable. It is clear that Camus studied a lot of history to write this book and it is amazing how accurately it describes the responses we have to it today. Worth a read at any time!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-28-20

So topical, ideal reading in the pandemic !!

I loved it; the people, the plot, the analysis of people's behaviour at different stages of the epidemic. Brilliant. And an excellent narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-24-20

A mirror for the current Vivid pandemic

A great read and reflection of many of the behaviours apparentl in the current Vivid crisis. Great and genuine pathos whilst celebrating the joy of life.