Albert Camus’ 1947 "The Plague"
Bertrand Hauger

Forced to stay home from one day to the next, millions of quarantined people were suddenly faced with a rare luxury in our fast-paced world: time. That, of course, came with a question: What to do with it?

Where others may have chosen to Netflix, garden, read, meditate or complete a 51,300 pieces-jigsaw puzzle, the French seemed to have had a rather French response: Ecrivons ! A survey quoted by daily Le Monde shows that during lockdown, 1 in 10 French had seized the nearest quill, electronic or otherwise, and started jotting down their thoughts. The Robert Laffont publishing house says that within a two-month quarantine span it had received an impressive 1,500 manuscripts — three times more than usual.

The Paris daily notes that the country's publishers remain cautious as to the quality of such a quantity of work. At the same time, the book industry has itself been hit hard by the crisis, with some prominent authors struggling to get their words out, among flat sales rates and cancelled book tours.

So where does that leave the first-time scribes? Much ink, no doubt, is being spilled in the "pandemic-inspired fiction" department. French writers may be hard-pressed to top Albert Camus' 1947 The Plague, the absurdist masterpiece depicting a cholera-like disease sweeping the Algerian city of Oran. But Le Monde reports that these burgeoning new authors are also churning out romance novels, cooking books and poetry, bien sûr.

Across the Atlantic, a similar hodgepodge of creative endeavors is at play, with Arlington Public Library director Diane Kresh introducing the library's Quaranzine: a weekly online publication gathering collages, essays, drawings, comics, etc., from hundreds of local contributors. In Kresh's words, "When the going gets tough, the tough get arty."

And then two weeks ago, the world's storyline seemed to abruptly shift again. With the May 25 killing of George Floyd, questions of racial injustice and police brutality consumed our minds, and time, eclipsing all those pandemic anxieties and bread recipes. Alienation, race and violence driving the Black Lives Matter movement. But if French writers follow that plot, they will be competing with another Camus classic: The Stranger.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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