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Week Ten (Thurs, 3/31): Small Group Discussion


I. coursekeeping
next webpapers due in two weeks (
Fri, Apr. 15)
on some aspect of the evolution of literary or filmic stories that particularly interests--or is useful--to you.
(it doesn't have to be on Generosity or The Plague; coupla' ideas already floating...)

II. so where to begin? w/ economics/literary Darwinism/adaptation studies/
evolutionary literary studies/existentialism/
The Plague?

dfishervan: I actually really enjoyed Power’s novel....What I really appreciated was my overall ability to follow along with the story while still being confused by various sentences throughout the book. In novels that intrigue me, I view these baffling snippets as puzzles that if I put in enough time, I can solve. The interjections by the characters and narrator that were over my head make sense to the author and thus assured me that the author was very aware of his characters and his novel’s purpose. As with any book I read, one of the most appealing facets of Power’s book were the occasional strings of words littered throughout the novel that resonated with me and encouraged me to reflect on the state of things in the book, in the world, and in my own life. Consequently, these thought-provoking sentences allow one to form a connection with the book on a much deeper level than any realistic character within the novel could hope to achieve.

jhercher: how closely related Darwin's evolutionary theory and Adam Smith's economic theory are

rachelr: detached, almost emotionless stance that the primary characters in the novel take concerning all happenings in and surrounding Oran

your initial reactions to the novel?

VIII. Reading Notes

How free is the narrator? How free are his characters?

The present narrator has three kinds of data: first, what he saw himself; secondly, the accounts of other eyewitnesses...; and, lastly, documents that subsequently came into his hands. He proposes to draw on these records.... He also proposes....

But perhaps the time has come to drop preliminaries and cautionary remarks and to launch into the narrative proper (Part I, p. 6).

Our townsfolk... forgot to be modest, that is all, and thought that everything still was possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible... plague rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences (Part I, p. 35).

What's the role of imagination in such a situation?

"Orders!" he said scornfully. "When what's needed is imagination" (Part I, p. 58)....What they're short on is imagination. Officialdom can never copy with something really catastropic (Part II, p. 114).

Hostile to the past, impatient of the present, and cheated of the future... the only way of escaping from that intolerable leisure was to set the trains running again in one's imagination (Part II, p. 67).

How separate, how united, are the townspeople?

But once the town gates were shut, every one of us realized that all... were... in the same boat.... a feeling normally as individual as the ache of separation from those one loves suddenly became a feeling in which all shared alike (Part II, p. 61).

yet cf.

Moreover, in this extremity of solitude none could count on any help from his neighbor; each had to bear the load of his troubles alone.... If... one of us tried to unburden himself... the reply always missed fire, and the attempt to communicate had to be given up (Part II, p. 69).

[Rieux:] "Oh, I know it's an absurd situation, but... we've got to accept it as it is" .... [Rambert:] "You're using the language of reason, not of the heart; you live in a world of abstractions" .... [Rieux] knew he was using the language of the facts (Part II, pp. 79-80).

... the sermon simply brought home the fact that they had been sentenced, for an unknown crime, to an indeterminate period of punishment (Part II, p. 92).

The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance
, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding.... the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill (Part II, pp. 120-121).