A slim, heart-wrenching, and rousing new book from the leading feminist writer Jacqueline Rose.
In early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to infiltrate public consciousness, sales of The Plague, the classic novel by French philosopher Albert Camus, skyrocketed. At the same time, the virus’s toll surged exponentially. Amid the harrowing loss, many sensed a glimmer of possibility—the potential for radical empathy wrought by shared experience—even as the death-dealing divisions of class, race, gender, and citizenship were underscored like never before. We have been through a time of ‘living death’ when, for millions across the globe, untold horror has seemed to infiltrate the very air we breathe.
Jacqueline Rose’s trenchant new book unravels recent history via the lives and works of three extraordinary thinkers—Albert Camus, Sigmund Freud, and Simone Weil, each one afflicted by catastrophe. Their politics and private griefs, the depth of their understanding, fling open a window into our present crises. Rose, one of the most insightful thinkers on politics and psychoanalysis alike, has written a story of unusual range, spanning World War II to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, surging domestic violence to emboldened anti-racist protest, the Spanish influenza to Omicron, Boris Johnson’s deranged optimism to Vladimir Putin’s megalomania. The Plague: Living Death In Our Times enacts a psychic reckoning for our moment and for the future to be forged in its aftermath.