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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, sologdin said:

classical antiquity has plenty of recitation on plague--though it less the story than the setting:  thucydides on the peloponnesian war, sophocles on thebes, ovid, the opening of the iliad. and, of course, the exodus. the revelation, all of the biopolitical management techne of public health in the levitical rules.

fairly plain that plague has been our great enemy for as long as we've kept records.  as hippocrates says in his treatise on epidemics:

on the other hand, it has been our great servant, as noted by foucault in discipline and punish when he writes of the “political dream of the plague,” requiring the “penetration of regulation into even the smallest details of everyday life through the mediation of complete hierarchy that assured the capillary function of power” (loc. cit. at 197-98). “Behind the disciplinary mechanisms can be read the haunting memory of contagions, of the plague, of rebellions, crimes, vagabondage, desertions, people who appear and disappear, live and die in disorder” (loc. cit. at 198). We see that “rulers dreamt of the state of plague” (loc. cit. at 199).  cf. my notes on garcia marquez's LTC in this connection.

We are seeing it all right -- except in the good ways, like mobilizing to manufacturer ventilators, getting masks and gloves to the population (hey they did it efficiently in WWI!), closing things down and the rest. Terrific for turning the US government into the family run bidness, ain't it?  As this by now ancient song tells us -- a song often performed at CBGB's by the Ned Sublette Band in the early 80's (somebody should do a real Wikipedia page for him -- what somebody threw up there is way out of date, is incorrect and doesn't include any of the important stuff). Imagine this with hard pounding punk-metal guitars, like Dave Mustaine's, who played on some of Sublette's recorded cuts.

WHEN THE PLAGUE HITS THE CITY
Ned Sublette / Constance Ash (c) 1982

When the plague hits the city and the rats take a holiday
There's an underground culture growing down in the subway
When the plague hits your body the fire burns all night long
When the plague hits the city the survivors are spectacularly strong

When the plague hits the city loved ones die on the spot
When the plague hits the city doctors are taken out and shot
When the plague hits the city we fuck with our DNA
When the plague hits the city and the rats take a holiday
But:
Everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck
Everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck

When the plague hits the city money changes hands
Funny things happen to the laws of supply and demand
The rich leave town or seal themselves away (hey hey)
When the plague hits the city and the rats take a holiday

When the plague hits the city some will do very well
There will be class mobility if you have something to sell
And when the plague hits the city the musicians who are still alive
Will have lot of work entertaining those who survive
I read in the paper that:

Everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck
Everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck
And the TV says:

How good for us the plague will be
How good for us the plague will be
How good for us the plague will be

Edited by Zorral

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The Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) - technically a zombie series, but the focus is very much on the disease management side of things. Book one is set during a presidential primary, many years after the initial outbreak with social isolation and regular testing as the new normal.

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Data bases like The New York Times from 1917-1919, searching on "flu", "influenza", "Spanish flu." (ya, being trapped at home is being felt)

The US was a total disaster dealing with it -- but this time the leadership is even worse than that time.

 

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I am not sure if it qualifies as plague literature but it certainly is about a disaster. Consider 'Day of the Triffids'.

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There is one Judge Dee novel ( I think "The willow pattern") that takes place during a plague outbreak in the city the judge presides over. It's not one of the best of the series, but still pretty good. 

Szczypiorski: A mass for the city of Arras (Msza za miasto Arras) Based on real events around 1460

Ph. Roth: Nemesis

There is another shorter story at the back of my head (somewhat like Poes "Masque..." but I might be conflating it with another one.

Coetzee: Waiting for the Barbarians (might not have the plague, I don't remember details but a great sense of impending doom)

There are lots of books with episodes concerning outbreaks of or otherwise dealing with horrible diseases, e.g. Michener's "Hawaii" has one episode taking mostly place in the Lepra colony; I think there is also a Hornblower story with the plague.

I started the Decameron yesterday (I am through with the first day of the eponymous deka hemerai). It has a fairly close description of AD 1348 plague-ridden Florence in the introduction/frame-story, but the stories told so far have no connection to the plague at all.

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12 hours ago, Jo498 said:

I started the Decameron yesterday (I am through with the first day of the eponymous deka hemerai). It has a fairly close description of AD 1348 plague-ridden Florence in the introduction/frame-story, but the stories told so far have no connection to the plague at all.

It's the framing story that qualifies it, I think: a bunch of Italians cooped up, taking shelter from the plague, and telling stories to pass the time.

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On 3/20/2020 at 7:32 AM, maarsen said:

I am not sure if it qualifies as plague literature but it certainly is about a disaster. Consider 'Day of the Triffids'.

Never read the book but the movie scared me when I was a wee child.

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16 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

It's the framing story that qualifies it, I think: a bunch of Italians cooped up, taking shelter from the plague, and telling stories to pass the time.

Sure. I am still glad that I finally got around starting the Decamerone, it's apparently one of the most influential prose works of the Western canon. The stories are all over the place from single page anecdotes (some are a bit trite or maybe relay on wordplay or nuances I don't get in translation) to short novellas, from morality fables to hilarious and saucy adventures (like one guy first accidentally falling down a latrine and later ending up (almost) in a bishop's sarcophagus he grave-robbed. The girl narrators might modestly blush but their tales are not prudish at all...

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Posted (edited)

Masque of the Red Death feels especially appropriate.

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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Posted (edited)

A short essay comparing Poe's Red Death with Smith's Silver Death.

doesn't poe's disease seem to be an epidemiological impossibility?  this description--

Quote

Blood was its Avatar and its seal -- the madness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress, and termination of the disease, were incidents of half an hour.

--suggests that the disease would kill all hosts in one locus before they could communicate the disease to another.  i say this as a proponent of poe, even despite his demaistrean misanthropy, realizing that his register is more than the merely literal.

Edited by sologdin

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3 hours ago, sologdin said:

doesn't poe's disease seem to be an epidemiological impossibility?  this description--

--suggests that the disease would kill all hosts in one locus before they could communicate the disease to another.

I read it as half an hour between first noticeable symptoms and death. Presumably the victims are carrying and spreading the disease for months before they (briefly) realise they have it. So Prospero and friends brought it into the abbey with them. Alternatively, it's airborne or waterborne, and recently spread through the watertable that supplies the abbey's well, or was carried in on the wind. It could even be a poison rather than a disease, spread by an unknown enemy. I think the first option is most thematically appropriate, though.

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10 hours ago, sologdin said:

A short essay comparing Poe's Red Death with Smith's Silver Death.

doesn't poe's disease seem to be an epidemiological impossibility?  this description--

--suggests that the disease would kill all hosts in one locus before they could communicate the disease to another.  i say this as a proponent of poe, even despite his demaistrean misanthropy, realizing that his register is more than the merely literal.

Judging by the speed at which it kills, Poe could be describing Ebola. Especially the bleeding from all orifices. 

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On 3/25/2020 at 3:52 AM, sologdin said:

A short essay comparing Poe's Red Death with Smith's Silver Death.

doesn't poe's disease seem to be an epidemiological impossibility?  this description--

--suggests that the disease would kill all hosts in one locus before they could communicate the disease to another.  i say this as a proponent of poe, even despite his demaistrean misanthropy, realizing that his register is more than the merely literal.

Smith's Silver Death is even more ludicrous. It kills you within seconds. But... it's fantasy?

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On 3/17/2020 at 1:19 PM, Plessiez said:

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

(And maybe Blindness by José Saramago?)

I just finished Blindness today.  I had been recommended by a friend months ago and didn’t realize it was a contagion story... interesting timing that I got around to it.

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I've just finished The Plague, by Albert Camus. Very, very pertinent in more ways than just the obvious, and a deserved classic. The best aspect, for me, was the atmosphere - the sheer suffocation of being trapped in the city hung over the entire narrative.

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3 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

. I noted with wry amusement that he is a strong advocate for Social Distancing.

Defoe, he know!

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