Stories help us to think

Homer's Iliad opens with a plague visited upon the Greek camp at Troy. The Decameron (1353) by Giovanni Boccaccio is set during the Black Death.

The stories offer the listeners ways to consider how similar crises have been managed previously, and how to reorganize their daily lives, which have been suspended due to the epidemic.

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Pandemics from Homer to Stephen King: what we can learn from literary history

theconversation.com

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  • Mary Shelley's apocalypse novel The Last Man (1826), depicts the life of Lionel Verney, who becomes the last man after a devastating global plague. The book criticizes the institutional responses to the plague, showing the revolutionary utopianism and the in-fighting that breaks out among surviving groups before they also die.
  • The short story, The Masque of the Red Death (1842), also shows the failures o authority figures to respond to a disaster appropriately.

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  • Albert Camus' The Plague (1942) and Stephen King's The Stand (1978) depict the social implications of plague-like pandemics, particularly regarding isolation and failures of the state to contain the disease and moderate the growing panic.
  • The 2016 novel Fever by Deon Meyer describes the results of a bioengineered virus where survivors besiege one another for resources.

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Over the history of Western literature about pandemics, much has been said in the way of catharsis, ways of dealing with intense emotion, and political commentary on how people respond to public health crises.

It is worth to peruse these texts to understand our reactions to the spread of this virus.

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Some speculative novels written by indigenous peoples and writers of color are treating colonialism and the diseases that spread by the colonizers as the source of an ongoing apocalypse.

For many people in formerly colonized places, the apocalypse has already come - literally and metaphorically - and have destroyed their populations.

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Transmissible diseases existed during humankind’s hunter-gatherer days, but the shift to agrarian life 10,000 years ago created communities that made epidemics more possible.
We started building cities and forging trade routes to connect with other cities, declaring wars with them; all these made more likely the existence of pandemics.

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Pandemics That Changed History: Timeline

history.com

The Appeal Of Doomsday Novels

The ongoing pandemic is a once-in-a-century event that has put the feeling of comfort at a premium. One such unexpected source of comfort is the relatively new genre of cli-fi, that is the dystopian world of climate fiction: stories related to environmental devastation revolving around either the pre-apocalyptic ‘before’ or the post-apocalyptic ‘after’.

This genre is a rising trend, with novels that offer climatic doom or widespread ecological calamities becoming award-winning bestsellers.

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The rise of apocalyptic novels

bbc.com