London: Hamish Hamilton, 1948. 1st UK Edition. Octavo, publisher's blue cloth, spine stamped in silver and red, original illustrated dust jacket.
First edition in English of Nobel Prize-winner Camus's allegorical novel of the German Occupation and the French Resistance, rendered as an outbreak of plague in the French colonial outpost of Oran and the community that must unite to overcome it (originally published in 1947 as La Peste). "To some, these events will seem quite natural; to others, all but incredible. But, obviously, a narrator cannot take account of these differences of outlook. His business is only to say, 'This is what happened,' when he knows that it actually did happen, that it closely affected the life of a whole populace, and that there are thousands of eye-witnesses who can appraise in their hearts the truth of what he writes." It was as a work in progress that The Plague first brought Camus to the attention of the English-speaking world. American publisher Blanche Knopf had been searching for new European writers to publish in the wake of World War II when she heard that Jean-Paul Sartre had mentioned the novel-in-progress favorably during a lecture at Harvard. She and her husband Alfred, in partnership with the British publishing house Hamish Hamilton, expressed interest in buying it; as it wasn't yet complete they had to take a two-book deal, leading with the already published L'Étranger. The striking dust jacket was designed by English artist and writer Michael Ayrton, best known for his collaborations with the writer Wyndham Lewis. Slightest toning to spine-ends, light sprinkled foxing to edges of textblock. Price-clipped dust jacket with only the slightest chipping to spine-ends. Near fine. Item #336