Mary Shelley’s astounding look at the end of the world
Set at the end of the twenty-first century, The Last Man is a moving and fantastical account of the apocalypse. Faced with a populace clamoring for more democratic rule, the last king of England relinquishes his throne. Suddenly a mysterious plague sweeps the globe, drawing ever nearer to England. As war, disease, and death ravage humanity, ideals of fairness and love are quickly supplanted by the imperative of survival.
With semibiographical characters drawn from Shelley’s own inner circle of friends and colleagues, this book is at once a look at the end of mankind and a critique of Romanticism. The Last Man’s themes of destruction resonate as much now as they did nearly two hundred years ago.
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“An absorbing roman à clef, [The Last Man] develops one of the major themes of romantic art, that of spiritual isolation, and . . . treats it in a unique way.” —The Year’s Work in English Studies
“[Mary Shelley’s] most interesting [work].” —Muriel Spark
Mary Shelley (1797–1851) was the only daughter of the political philosopher William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, celebrated author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. At the age of sixteen, Shelley (then Mary Godwin) scandalized English society by eloping with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was married. Best known for the genre-defining Frankenstein (1818), she was a prolific writer of fiction, travelogues, and biographies during her lifetime, and was instrumental in securing the literary reputation of Percy Shelley after his tragic death.
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