People have always responded to epidemics by spreading rumor and false information, and portraying the disease as foreign and brought in with malicious intent. This article has been written by Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006.
For the past four years, Mr. Pamuk has been writing a historical novel set in 1901 during what is known as the third plague pandemic, an outbreak of bubonic plague that killed millions of people in Asia but not very many in Europe. Over the last two months. he has been asked a lot of questions about pandemics. “The initial response to the outbreak of a pandemic has always been denial. National and local governments have always been late to respond and have distorted facts and manipulated figures to deny the existence of the outbreak”, says Mr Pamuk.
Much of the literature of plague and contagious diseases presents the carelessness, incompetence and selfishness of those in power as the sole instigator of the fury of the masses. The history and literature of plagues show that the intensity of the suffering, of the fear of death, of the metaphysical dread, and of the sense of the uncanny experienced by the stricken populace will also determine the depth of their anger and political discontent.