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Preview — The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
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The Last Man
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 ...more
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 ...more
Mary Shelley wrote more than Frankenstein (still need to read that one). This book was written 8 years after that book, after returning from Italy back to England, and after losing her husband to death. This and the loss of most of her children with him no doubt inspired the mood and the losses happening in this book, a book about gradual dwindling of people on earth due to a plague (which started in Egypt, then spread eastwards and ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
“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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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. ...more
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 ...more
Rating: 4.5 stars
The start of this book is incredibly slow and you definitely have to work through the first few chapters (possibly even the first volume depending on how you feel about autobiographical stories) before the pace of the story picks up. That can be off-putting so I took off half a star in my rating. Okay, on to the good stuff.
I love the autobiographical elements of this book. It’s definitely centred around ...more
I really liked the first part, even though nothing important ...more
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 ...more
There is one scene where, if you are like me and if you have read an apocalypse ...more
I imagined the author thumbing through a thesaurus as she wrote, looking for another way to say the same thing again with different words, but it appears Roget's wasn't published till after this was written. I'm curious to know what she used instead, she must have had something.
I found it interesting that the world she wrote about seemed technologically ...more
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 ...more
Without too many spoilers, Shelley sets the story in late 21st century ...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
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 ...more
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