'In Albert Camus’ The Plague (1947), an epidemic spreads across Oran, a town on Africa’s north coast, as Joseph Grand attempts to write a novel. Grand dreams of writing a book that will cause his publisher to leap up from his desk (the publishers in this world are men), and gasp in wonder.
'But he can’t get the first sentence right. He worries at every detail, frets over meaning and rhythm. He arranges and rearranges it. There is no possibility of a second sentence. Without the first line, the novel is obstructed'