Rather than re-reading the Inferno this Easter, as I so often do, I finally read (in translation) that classic The Plague, with Camus as my Virgil. Pagan philosophers can illustrate the human problem, even though they have no solution to offer.
Left: French police processing arriving Jews at the Pithiviers internment camp, 1941. Right: Members of the French Resistance, 1944.
Set in Oran, Algeria, The Plague is really an allegory of, among other things, the Nazi occupation of France, and the mixture of resistance to, and collaboration with, it.
The novel was, as I expected, well-written but sombre:
“The truth must be told: the plague had taken away from all of them the power of love or even of friendship, for love demands some future, and for us there was only the here and now... All I say is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims – and as far as possible one must refuse to be on the side of the pestilence... Can one be a saint without God: that is the only concrete question that I know today.”