By now you should all be familiar with the Nonbelieving Literati, that book club (without the clubhouse) of sorts originally originated by the ever original Exterminator. If not, back up five words and click. Once there, check out his side column which should help explain a lot. You could also click on some of the discussions I posted of previous books we discussed, which I have conveniently linked to in my right hand column.
The current book under discussion is Albert Camus‘ The Plague, a novel about…well, I’m getting ahead of myself. One of the prime directives of the Nonbelieving Literati is to read a book picked by one of the participating blog members within the alloted time, and write an essay about it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a straight forward review of the book, but can be on anything that uses the book as a starting point of discussion. Due to time constraints and a backlog of other reading material, I failed to read or participate this time around. Having read the essays submitted so far, I thought it would be a good idea to make my contribution a mini-Carnival where all of the essays could be accessed from a central location. Actually, it wasn’t my original good idea, it was the Exterminator’s, which I freely swiped (I did say he was the original original, didn’t I?). So, without further build-up or adieu, The Carnival, in no significant order:
- The blogger who chose this book was John Evo at Evolutionary Middleman, who wrote an essay that compares the Plague of the book to the intellectually bankrupt adage we’ve come to know and loath: “There are no atheists in foxholes”.
- As The Chaplain read the book, she noticed something that seems to have eluded most of the male readers: A dearth of female characters worthy of their gender.
- The essay I felt came closest to a true critical analysis is that of Ridger, FCD who found the book to be a slow starter, but ultimately rewarding.
- Ordinary Girl thought the book dull at first, but realized with hindsight and reflection that it would grow on her.
- C.L. Hanson at Letters From A Broad discovered La Peste (as it’s known in France and Quebec) to be a fascinating study of human nature, even though it seemed to lack entertainment value, but who needs entertainment when you have insight?
- Mr. Tyrannosaurus Ex himself took a subplot of the book and ran with it, finding an apt comparison between writers of blogs and the obsessive and obsessed writer in the book, who spent 275 pages composing the first sentence of his anticipated masterpiece.
- Having not read the book, but instead all of the essays, I feel like I have read the book. Lynet at Elliptica has written a thought provoking essay that analyzes the themes of the book in the context of the author’s experiences as a member of the French Resistance during WWII.
- For Enonomi, The Plague was not her cup of tea. Not enough zombies, apparently. I couldn’t help but envision Micheal Jackson’s Thriller music video, with the addition of rats. How’s that for an incongruous reference? 😉
- Last but not least, The Lifeguard emerged from his cabana with a well thought out philosophical musing on the harsh realities of life, existence and suffering with one of my favorite lines: “Life, it appears, has a funny way of reminding us just how irrelevant our everyday lives are.” He was last seen doing laps in the Pool of Life.
I hope you’ll find the submissions to this Nonbelieving Literati Carnival as informative and thought provoking as I did. I also trust that if you are interested in participating in the next or future discussions, just let The Exterminator know, or for that matter, simply read the next book, (Christopher Brookmyre’s Not the End Of The World, ($4.79 at Amazon, (which seems to have gone down in price (from $5.04) since I ordered it this afternoon))) and post an essay on or after March 15. If you don’t have a blog of your own, contact any one of the previous participants, and, I’m sure, any one of them would be happy to guest host your essay.
The more the merrier.
[EDIT: Lynet over at Eliptica has rendered a nice post-mortem (pun intended) of The Plague, musing on the place of art in our world. “Art is not just for those who might earn a living from it. Art is for those who might gain a little life from it.”]
Thanks for posting this, SI. The group discussion of The Plague is exactly what I had in mind when I first thought of Nonbelieving Literati: a series of personal essays, each written at approximately the same time, that examine a specific book from various different viewpoints. The result is sort of like an online casebook that can continue to grow as more and more people comment on posts or add their own. I emphasize that last part of the sentence because the discussion is not automatically “closed” on the day the first posts go up. Anyone who has something to say about The Plague should definitely feel that it’s not too late to take part.
contact any one of the previous participants, and, I’m sure, any one of them would be happy to guest host your essay.
Hell yes. Contact me. If it’s any good, I’ll just say I wrote it.
Thanks for taking the time to do this SI. Hopefully this will generate the interest in the Athesosphere that this great idea of Ex’s deserves.
Nice job. And I too would be happy to host a post.
Thanks for assembling this “Carnival.” We should work out a schedule for hosts and make sure it happens every time. I loved this month’s essays and the resulting discussions. I hope readers who haven’t done so yet will go to the posts and add their 2¢ worth to the discussion.
I would be happy to host a Carnival and also guest-posts if people need a place to publish their work.
I’d like to add a couple of things that I failed to mention in the post.
First, this does not mean, as T. Ex said, that the postings are done. It’s not unusual to see more posts as others finish the book beyond the set post date. That date is the first that anyone should post, but not the last. If I see other posts on the book, I’ll continue to add them to the Carnival.
Second, much of the delight and entertainment, for everyone who is not reading and posting, is in the comments that get started after all the posts. Reading them is like looking through a set of different lenses, often illuminating and even changing the first reaction one might have for the book. So keep checking back.
Chappy, that was kind of the original idea, but Ex wanted to wait until there were enough AND high quality. As you indicate, we certainly got the second part on this book! Nice jobs by everyone. Not a weak effort among them.
Lynet at Elliptica has posted an essay on The Plague. I’m leaving this note for anyone who gets to your Carnival before you have a chance to add her to it. After doing that, feel free to delete this unnecessary comment. Thanks.
Actually, I think it’s particularly nice having this ‘carnival’ post done by somebody who has chosen not to read this time around and who is therefore reacting as an outside observer. Maybe we could pass the sum-up post around as an option for people who would like to stay involved but don’t feel they have time or inclination to do the reading this time around. Obviously, if we all want to read the book, choosing to host wouldn’t bar you from joining in with the reading, but in the event that one of us didn’t feel like it . . .
I’m doubly damned.
I still haven’t gotten around to starting the book yet. No excuse. Just poor time management (anyway, who the hell can manage time… it just plods on no matter what), obsession with a new computer, and sometimes sheer frigging laziness .
And now of course I can’t read the essays, thus the double damnedness, because they would color my reaction to the book.
I need a keeper, or a trainer, or something. I obviously can’t be trusted with my life and time.
Ric, we could all take up a collection and buy you some time management software for that new computer. 😉
Ric said, “I need a keeper, or a trainer, or something. I obviously can’t be trusted with my life and time.”
An evangelical, fundamentalist or pentecostal church may be just the thing you need. Churches are wonderful at filling up people’s calendars with all sort of wholesome activities. I just hope you like fried chicken, potato salad and jello because those are the staples of all church dinners. 🙂
I do like fried chicken and potato salad, though I’m not crazy about jello. I am, however, fussy about who prepares the food and with whom I eat. And I wouldn’t want to be the cause of all the disapproving glances and comments as I ate my way through grace. Not to mention Grace. I doubt the parishioners would approve in either case.
The computer manages itself just fine. But if you’ve got software for my brain, that might be helpful. And books on time management have absolutely no effect on my habits, even when I read them.
You’re not going to come out of the dark, are you? You were just teasing, weren’t you?
Spanish Inquisitor: (Maybe not the appropriate spot, but) I did enjoy doing guest posts on the blogs of others. But, I figured it was time to take the plunge. Oh, and Ric, I, too, have a dark blog.
Patience, grasshopper. All in good time.
That’s OK. We’ve been telling you that all along.
SI: Were you telling me that while I was still a Lurkerosuchus apostatii? Or only since I started drive-by commenting?
The latter. I didn’t even know you existed when you were a Lurkerosuchus apostatii.