Plague Fiction: Reading About Epidemics During Covid-19

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt


How do we use literature during the time- and space-altering experience of a pandemic? That is the central question posed by the research project Lockdown Reading. During 2020 and 2021, Lockdown Reading collected information about pandemic reading habits through surveys and interviews, resulting in a collection of 860 survey responses and 68 qualitative interviews. Building on Lockdown Reading’s data collection, this paper presents one reading trend of 2020/2021: the interest in reading fiction about epidemics in general and Albert Camus’ 1947 novel, The Plague, in particular. Unsurprisingly, The Plague is not the only piece of plague fiction that appears in Lockdown Reading’s data. Novels such as José Saramago’s Blindness (1995), Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars (2020), Ling Ma’s Severance (2018), Liam Brown’s Skin (2019), and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2015) are also frequently seen. But The Plague has appeared with a particular regularity in surveys, interviews, and in the press, exemplifying the idea that plague fiction is the ideal case-reading “for the moment”. In this paper, I will explore some possible reasons for the novel’s newfound popularity and present a reading of The Plague that takes readers’ responses into account.
TidsskriftPandemic Perspectives
Udgave nummerS1
Sider (fra-til)11-17
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - 20 dec. 2022

ID: 286627567