2020-21 The Journal of a Pandemic year
I have just had an incredible thought. It may have been intentional. It may have been a co-incidence, but when I think back to my A-levels studies in German, French and English literature, no less than five of my compulsory novels were about people living in lockdown. And if I could remember ANYTHING at all about my A-level German novels, I am sure I could find more!
The first was Sartre’s “Huis Clos”: three people living together in a room with constant light and no eyelids, condemned to live out the rest of their existence in each other’s excruciating company.
The second was Jean Anouilh’s: “La Belle Vie” the last aristocratic family in an imaginary country, spared from execution as long as they live as they lived before … eating, drinking, gambling, general debauchery … but from inside a museum where the people can come an observe them like animals in a zoo.
The third was Shakespeare’s “Tempest”: a ship carrying a prince and his crew is caught in a magical storm and crashes onto an island, leaving them in the company of precisely the people they usurped ten years before. Tense party atmosphere guaranteed.
The fourth was Daniel Defoe’s “Journal of the Plague Year”: A detailed account of the lockdown in London in 1665 during the outbreak of the bubonic plague. Lots of descriptions of boils. Nice.
The fifth was Camus’ “La Peste”. Need I say more?
I can only imagine that someone, somewhere in the universe was preparing me for the great Huis Clos Plague Year of March 2020-21.
I am happy to report that my experience was more Belle Vie than Huis Clos (minus the threat of execution of course). And who knows? The phenomenon of living in confinement has inspired great men and women to write some of the finest works of literature in the whole world. Maybe in 300 years, people will say the same of the ELC blog! Now wouldn’t that be nice? 🙂