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The Last Man

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,546 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally importan ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published October 11th 2007 by BiblioLife (first published 1826)
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Bookdragon Sean
Mary Shelley loved her husband; she adored his poetical voice and he admired her intellect: theirs was a marriage of minds. So it’s not overly surprising that in her later work she spent a good part of it paying homage to her late partner.

The novel begins with a wretched youth, Lionel, utterly distraught at the injustice that is his life. He is poor, uneducated and desperate. Lionel wants revenge on what he perceives as the cause of his problems; however, when the said problem appears his life
J.G. Keely
I don't really like reading, which must strain credulity, since I devote so much of my time and energy to doing it. But reading, for me, is never an easy thing. Only rarely do I get caught up and find myself turning pages heedlessly, plunging into the text. More often, I am well aware of what page I'm on and how many pages until this chapter ends.

The reading itself is slow and ponderous, winding a sinuous path through the book, and this leisurely pace always sets my mind to wandering, looking fo
Henry Avila
You are the last person on the face of the Earth, every desire can be easily obtained, the best of the best, shelter, food , clothes, toys, transportation, an endless vacation, go anywhere , do anything , nobody can stop it, the enormous world is all yours...Only one little problem, the animals have inherited the planet, a lonely, solitary man, no humans to speak to, he is just temporarily standing, for a short while, and will soon be gone too ( and welcomes this fact), civilization has collapse ...more
Jun 16, 2011 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard line fans of Mary Shelley & gluttons for early science fiction
Mary Shelley did not stop writing after Frankenstein and I was excited to come across her last novel "The Last Man", unfortunately I found it a difficult book to read and I came close to giving up on it all together. Indeed the first time I read it, I took a break of over a year in the middle of the book - it was not exactly compelling, read through the night material.

The idea is that a plague wipes out humanity leaving one man alone to survive. This story is set in the future, Shelley's vision
David Sarkies
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science-Fiction Lovers
Recommended to David by: Wikipedia
Shelves: sci-fi
Shelley's apocalypse
13 December 2013

Being a lover of older books and science-fiction when I discover a book that is in effect both I become really interested, so when I discovered that Mary Shelley (of Frankenstein fame) wrote a book about the last man left alive on Earth (or as she puts it in her book the LAST MAN), I was immediately interested, so instead of attempting to troll through the chain store bookstores here in Australia (which generally consists of Dymoks, now that Borders has effec
Andrew Breslin
May 18, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I desperately tried to convince myself that I didn’t loathe this, but I’m just not that good a liar. I saw right through my shameless chicanery. It was so obvious. Remind me never to play poker with myself.

With all due respect, I firmly believe that all the people who gave this book rave reviews could take themselves to the cleaners at Texas Hold-Em. Really, they could win the shirt off their own backs, they are just so good at self-deception. I envy them.

Frankenstein, arguably my favorite book
That was long! Good in places, boring in others, it wasn't really what I expected. From the author of Frankenstein: The 1818 Text & set in the end of the 21st century, I expected some SF elements, but there were none. The war is one that could have taken place any time in the prior centuries & was taking place then. While there is some travel by balloon, most is by horse. Ships still rely on sails save for a few steam powered ones. Being published in 1826, there is no knowledge of germ t ...more
Althea Ann
I'm glad I read this book.
As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I felt like it was a must. Shelley didn't originate the concepts found here, but this is still arguably, the first actual post-apocalyptic novel, as such.

It was quite fascinating to see how many of the common tropes we find in so much of today's post-apocalyptic fiction are also found in this book: the urge to travel, even in the absence of a clear goal. Scavenging and exploring abandoned places. Hordes of those willing to victi
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1800-s, prose
A profoundly sad reaction to Romanticism, initially vilified, mocked, and essentially blacklisted, before being recovered and championed in the 1960s.

It's overlong, the language is annoyingly exalted, most of the characters are flat, and there's a lot of rubbish. Sounds tedious? It sort of is. This is definitely one of the few examples I've encountered of an excellent literary work that for much of its padded length feels somewhat interminable, but that emerges as a remarkable, deeply interesti
Christopher Conlon
Every once in a while in my reading life I’ve come across a book that has taken me completely by surprise—one that forces me to inhale deeply at the end and then, exhaling, utter an overwhelmed “Wow.”

“The Last Man” is such a book for me.

Despite my love of Mary Shelley’s great “Frankenstein,” I went into “The Last Man” without much hope, based on its relative obscurity as well as some of the slams it has received right here on Goodreads. Yet I was awed by the power of this story. It’s true that i
Nicole Hogan
Oh, The Last Man! One of the (many)books perpetually on my re-read list.

This later work from Shelly shows her talent as a mature innovative writer and secures a literary legacy outside of her husband's shadow. Written four years after Percy's death and some ten years after the publication of Frankenstein, Shelly weaves a fantastic version of the end of the world in the year 2100. Told from the perspective of the only survivor of a devastating plague that snuffs out humanity, the story subtly inc
Vane J.
The Last Man is, as its name says, the story of the last man (Lionel Verney) living on the surface of Earth. During the course of his story, a deadly plague that killed most of mankind started to spread. He told everything he witnessed since his childhood till his experiences in the plague.

The book starts really slow. As I said, this is about Lionel's life, so he tells his story from the beginning. The plague we are promised does not appear until half the book. Based solely on the first half of
Oh Mary Shelley, this the best you could do? Honestly, it should probably get a 1-star because I had to force myself to finish it. I continued with this torture because was hoping you would redeem yourself and make this book become at least remotely interesting in the end. But you didn't. You failed.

This is a novel of "the last man", who becomes the only survivor of a future plague. The story actually starts with an introduction by you, Mary Shelley, stating that you found a collect
Jun 17, 2015 marked it as odustajem  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Maro, sestro, daviš dok ti čitalac ne poplavi kao Štrumpf. A i nešto nemam sažaljenja prema sirotoj, maloj, engleskoj aristokratiji, makar i crkavala od distopijske kuge. Vidimo se mi na čitanju Frankenštajna, ostaj mi zdravo.
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, review
Review from Badelynge
It seems like I've been reading Mary Shelley's The Last Man all year. I'm not the fastest of readers but whenever I read poetry I read even slower. The Last Man isn't poetry but it is written using poetic prose, which keeps tricking me into thinking I'm reading an epic poem. The primary characters are based on Shelley's recently deceased husband poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and herself (although personified by the eponymous male character). The woman can write some.
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x04-april-2017
I thought this was a fairly difficult read and not one everyone would enjoy, but I really liked it. Basically, if you like early 19th century British novels AND post-apocalyptic fiction, you should check this out.
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
THE LAST MAN. (1826; this ed. 2012). Mary Shelley. **.
Most of us have read Frankenstein by Shelley (born Mary Wolstoncraft Godwin, 1797-1851), but most of us haven’t come across her other best seller of the time, “The Last Man.” This novel is an early rendition of ‘an end of the world scenario’ and would be followed by many more like it. It was originally issued as a three-volume novel, but, in today’s world even a mediocre editor would have cut it down to one volume. It is set in the 21st cent
I'll be honest, I didn't know much alright anything about this book until it came up on my kindle recommendations and since I loved Frankenstein I just had to give it ago, particularly once I read the synopsis for it. And while I really did enjoy Shelley's writing, it didn't feel like a post apocalyptic novel to me at all. Instead it felt more like an old fashioned adventure where rich aristocrates travel the world getting themselves into trouble, pulling along the odd 'outsider' for a bit of a ...more
It took me some while to get into ‘The Last Man’, both because of its slow start and my present preoccupation with moving house. The style throughout is extremely florid and capital-R Romantic, as you would expect from Mary Shelley. To set the scene prior to the apocalypse, however, the narrator describes in minute detail how noble, beautiful, and wonderful his friends, wife, and children are. This dominates the first 70 or so pages. There follows a war between the Greeks and Turks, concurrent w ...more
So I'm finally done with this beast of a book. I read this one of school and I have pretty mixed feelings about it. Overall, the themes and the plot that Mary Shelley presents are really interesting and I loved the concept of the novel. The first part is really just talk about how diffrent people in our main character's life behave and then the second part is when the plague hits the world and things starts to be a bit complicated.

I really liked the first part, even though nothing important rea
Catherine Siemann
So not only did Mary Shelley invent modern science fiction with Frankenstein, but she seems also to have invented post-apocalyptic fiction AND semi-gender-swapped Real Person Fanfiction with The Last Man. While the pacing is not that of a modern novel, the reimagining of Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Claire Clairmont and Mary herself (as well as several of their children) into fictional characters is delightful for anyone who's a fan of Romantic poets and a reader of their biographies. Shelley's ch ...more
Steve Gordon
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more

My fortunes have been, from the beginning, an exemplification of the power that mutability may possess over the varied tenor of man's life

tl;dr version: More interesting as an artefact of early post-apocalyptic literature, and perhaps for the lightly hidden portraits of Shelley and Byron by someone who knew them very well. Hard going as a leisure read, but definitely interesting.

This is no doubt, one of the earliest of the post-apocalyptic novels (although the post-apocalyptic tradition its

Simon Dicky
"A post-apocalyptic novel written by the author of 'Frankenstein'? Sign me up!"

Or so I thought as I dove into the book Shelley referred to as the one she most enjoyed writing. It didn't take long, however, for me to realize that this was going to be a far cry from the hyper-realistic, detail-driven catastrophes that have sprouted in modern literature like weeds. Indeed, Shelley appears to have put virtually no thought into the workings of a plague-ridden world set at the end of the century we're
Pro - the final volume. It's amazing. Alone, it would get at least one more star. The mood reminded me a lot of the short story, I am Legend, and it handled the apocalypse in a way that seemed so contemporary. This isn't always a plus for me, but I really enjoyed it here.

Pro - the notes, appendices, etc. As usual, Broadview Press put together an incredible edition. Alone, this part would get five stars.

Con - the first two volumes. I like romances, especially ones in this psuedo-17th-century sty
Genia Lukin
Really, what happened to Mary Shelley, the amazing Sheley of frankenstein? Honestly, this book was dull as paint.

What is even more horrifying, perhaps, is the immense social conservatism and lack of inventiveness we are seeing in this bok. It's science-fiction, for heaven's sake! Shelley dealt so beautifully with the struggle of science and the scientist versus the places where one should not tamper, and the limitations of science it seems almost a godsend for a book about a plague that (spoiler
In the 21st century, the British monarchy has given up the throne, and the country is a republic. When Lionel Verney comes to be involved with the ruling elite, he is first swept up in romantic and political intrigues and finally swept out of England altogether when an apocalyptic kills nearly everyone. Eventually, everyone but Lionel does die, and he writes his memoirs, in the form of The Last Man. (I would apologize for the spoiler there, but even the title of the book makes it clear what's go ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, where do I start?

This book is not an enjoyable read. I found it very hard to finish and genuinely felt like it was written in the wrong form. The narrative is prose poetry; yes, that’s correct, a five hundred plus page novel in nineteenth century prose poetry. To make this even worse, the character plots were as far as I can see non-existent. The only real story that is told is that which the synopsis explains.

The story bumbled along with heavy and suffocating narrative and left me numb to
Roger Whitson
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such a difficult novel to rate. It took me quite a long time to get through Mary Shelley's THE LAST MAN. I really enjoyed it about half of the time. The other half of the time, I struggled to get through it. I'm sure some of the issue comes from the fact that the novel is a prose poem with little dialogue and a lot of text describing the action from something of a remove. The form of the novel takes some getting used to, and I couldn't read much of it in one sitting.

However, THE LAST MA
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the nuttiest books I have ever read. Shelley's novel (written 8 years after "Frankenstein") takes place in the years 2073 to 2100. Shelley doesn't really envision any technological changes (most of the characters are farmers or shepherds, and everyone still gets around by horse). The first third of the book is something of a romance, concerning the narrator, the son of the abdicated king, and the Byronic warrior-hero, Lord Raymond. A third of the way through, though, reports of plague bre ...more
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  • After London: or, Wild England
  • The Purple Cloud (Frontiers of Imagination)
  • The Scarlet Plague
  • The Drought
  • Zastrozzi
  • Mary and Maria by Mary Wollstonecraft & Matilda by Mary Shelley
  • The Blazing World and Other Writings
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • The Lost World & Other Stories
  • When Worlds Collide (When Worlds Collide, #1)
  • The Wheels of Chance: A Bicycling Idyll
  • A Laodicean: A Story of Today (Everyman Library)
  • Level 7
  • The Rift
  • The Trail of the Serpent
  • Zofloya
  • The Devil's Children (The Changes Trilogy)
  • Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales
Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, often known as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, travel writer, and editor of the works of her husband, Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. She was the daughter of the political philosopher William Godwin and the writer, philosopher, and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft ...more
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“Her countenance was all expression; her eyes were not dark but impenetrably deep; you seemed to discover space after space in their intellectual glance.” 22 likes
“I spread the whole earth out as a map before me. On no one spot of its surface could I put my finger and say, here is safety.” 11 likes
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