Esteban Gordon's Reviews > The Last Man

The Last Man by Mary Shelley
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Feb 22, 12

Read from February 15 to 22, 2012

A very, very tricky book to review this. The first half or so is so utterly dreadful that a thousand times I had to resist tossing it in the nearest garbage can. And yet, after finishing it, I was ready to cry to Mont Blanc that it was a masterpiece. I would contend that it is NOT science fiction as Shelley shows, or shews, no desire to imagine a futuristic world but merely changes the date a few hundred years in the future with no technological or political advancement whatsoever. The novel, in essence, is mostly a pessimistic retelling of Shelley's own life with all the familiar characters (Percy Shelley, their children, Lord Byron) - summed up nicely here: "There are some beings, whom fate seems to select on whom to pour, in unmeasured portion, the vials of her wrath, and whom she bathes even to the lips in misery." However, I felt the novel ended on a note of optimism. The ending even seemed, at least to me, to reverse the overall bashing of Romanticism throughout the novel. And the last 100 pages or so (from the English emigrants arrival into Paris), was mesmerizing. The Last Man, reshaped, certainly could have been one of the great novels of the 19th century. So don't give up on it!
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