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The Epigraph

cr88's picture

 After our class discussion last week, I kept thinking about how crucial the epigraph seemed to me with regards to how it changed my reading of Camus's work, and how it didn't seem "accurate" in this light that certain editions leave it out. In my edition, the epigraph reads "Il est aussi raisonnable de représenter une espèce d'emprisonnement par une autre que de représenter n'importe quelle chose qui existe réellement par quelque chose qui n'existe pas" which translates to "It is as reasonable to represent one sort of imprisonment using another as it is to represent something that actually exists using something that does not." For me, the inclusion or exclusion of this epigraph initially meant the difference between reading "The Plague" as a purely self-referential text and reading the novel as an allegory. The epigraph myself and a few others had in their texts seems to privilege and validate only the latter approach. However, as I thought about the issue further in light of Camus's own philosophy, I realized that thinking of "The Plague" as "one imprisonment representing another" might actually mean nothing and everything at once; if we as humans can be thought of as leading an existence analogous to that of Sisyphus, then all human lives are essentially different "imprisonments." This epigraph thus potentially allows for a self-referential reading of the text after all, as the imprisonments compared may simply be those of the characters within the novel.


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