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[Perspectives] After plague

Emily St John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven, belongs to a long tradition of plague narratives, dating back to Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (c 1351), a collection of 100 tales told by ten young Florentines who have fled to a villa outside the city to escape the Black Death. Mandel’s contemporary novel opens on a snowy night in early 21st-century Toronto during a performance of William Shakespeare’s King Lear. In the fourth act, the actor playing Lear suddenly collapses from what seems to be a heart attack.