read online Audiobooks The Last Man Author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – Multi-channel.co

A Futuristic Story Of Tragic Love And Of The Gradual Extermination Of The Human Race By Plague, The Last Man Is Mary Shelley S Most Important Novel After Frankenstein With Intriguing Portraits Of Percy Bysshe Shelley And Lord Byron, The Novel Offers A Vision Of The Future That Expresses A Reaction Against Romanticism, And Demonstrates The Failure Of The Imagination And Of Art To Redeem The Doomed Characters


10 thoughts on “The Last Man

  1. says:

    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 is turned around It is a man, a noble and a landowner When Lionel sees the man his anger at the tyranny of the world is quenched in an instant, such is the power of this individual He embodies nobility and goodness he is the romantic hero He teaches Lionel to read and how to understand poetry he teaches him how to live and how to open up his heart Lionel is transformed by this experience he develops true moral awareness and imagination Poetry rejuvenates his character it teaches him natural Shelleyan values This man is Mary Shelley s ode to her husband he is called Adrian, and he is Percy Shelley incarnate He becomes the only hope for the future of mankind, his philosophy is it s only balm I read or listened to Adrian and his discourse, whether it concerned his love or his theories for the improvement of man, alike entranced me Sometimes my lawless mood would return, my love of peril, my resistance to authority but this was in his absence under the mild sway of his dear eyes, I was obedient and good as a boy of five years old, who does his mother s bidding But, first, another must try his hand at saving the world form the oncoming apocalypse Enter Lord George Byron in the form of Adrian s friend Raymond Domination, manipulation and power are what his personality evokes Adrian becomes quickly ill after their encounter Raymond strives to be good he strives to do the right thing but passion, in the Byronic sense is far too strong He is a lover and user He is poison and tonic He is quick to change his mind, and is prone to rash and erratic behaviour thus, he quickly falls in love and runs away from his dream of ruling in harmony The wind ever changes his mind and his sexual interest With this man a relationship would only end one way Lionel later becomes his friend and is trapped between the influences of each As the novel progresses and the apocalypse comes ever closer, the world becomes darker Raymond s Byron s ideas prove ineffective and he exits centre stage A plague wrecks the world, one caused by man s unnatural state The population of the world decreases to mere thousands and eventually hundreds And who does humanity look to in its most dire hour of need Who do they look to as the last hope of mankind Adrian Percy Shelley of course, and he comes He does his best to teach mankind how to be itself again he tries to bring back the tatters of civilisation, thought the unnaturalness of man has seeped into the very fabric of his being it is in his soul it is in his heart The pure words of the vegetarian were heeded too late Adrian welcomed us on our arrival He was all animation you could no longer trace in his look of health, the suffering valetudinarian from his smile and sprightly tones you could not guess that he was about to lead forth from their native country, the numbered remnant of the English nation, into the tenantless realms of the south, there to die, one by one, till the LAST MAN should remain in a voiceless, empty world And here s where Mary Shelley voice comes through The Last Man may refer to our narrator Lionel But I think the meaning goes much deeper than this Granted, he is the final witness of humanity s fate But there is to consider When Mary wrote this novel all of the major Romantics were dead The young Romantics, Shelley, Keats and Byron, had all died tragically young Some of the old Romantics like Wordsworth and Coleridge were still kicking around, but their glory days had gone Byron saw to that The point is Mary is the last of the generation Her peers were dead, her friends were dead, and her lover was dead This is their eulogy this is a writer lamenting the loss of the greats of her literary generation this is a writer who was forced to carry on living after her soul mate had perished Mary Shelley is The Last Man.


  2. says:

    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 for clues and foreshadowing, word use, structure, ideas, half ideas, and flashes of brilliance All of my friends read quickly than I do, and many have described their experience as being totally divorced from the text that once they get into the book, they grow unaware of the process of reading.And yet I am the one who writes the reviews, whose mind whirls and reels with layered meanings and critical analysis So I keep reading, though it is can be a chore, as my brain must always perk up and churn along, processing and considering.Many a time, I ve wished I had my friends eyes, and could knock out a book in an afternoon, could simply read as if I were watching TV then I could afford the luxury of rereading I can read quickly than is my habit in college, I often forced myself to do so, to make due dates Yet it was always unpleasant, rushing through without a moment free for thought, so that by the time I came out, I had only half the ideas and observations I would normally glean from a good book.I was tempted to rush with The Last Man, not because it was dull or poorly written which often tempts me to rush through worse books, knowing I won t miss much but because it is thick and long, and may be even ponderous than I am This book was a haul, so than any other in my recent memory, it took time and energy to get through the long chapters, poetic language, and asides.Yet it was not poorly written, the poetry of its language was not misplaced, nor was its pacing some accident of language it s a good book It was merely a great deal of book to get through.Like many Victorian authors, Shelley felt no need to rush the plot along, nor to curtail her flood of words Luckily, she backed them up with ideas and feelings, so it was not merely the empty deluge of words so common in many American novels of the same period.There were some problems with the book s structure, most notably that Shelley often passed over moments of action or character growth with a short summary, but almost never curtailed her descriptions of places or emotional states But this gives the book a very introspective bent, which complements the protagonist s isolation as he attempts to come to terms with the world as it collapses around him.The book is thematically intriguing, especially to someone who has an interest and a familiarity with the ideals, philosophies, and art of the Victorian period Much of the book is a deconstruction of Romanticism, showing how an aesthete s optimism never long survives contact with the real world This wasn t a problem for Shelley s compatriots, as they had the money and influence to avoid the difficult aspects of reality, but after they all died young, only Mary was left, a lone woman in a changing world, writing a book about the death of the grand Romantic ideal.The Last Man from which she takes her title was not an original idea of Shelley s, either, but a Victorian notion that had been explored by many previous authors It was Shelley s intention to create a whole story around the concept, presenting the fall of that last man with the image of the death of the Victorian ideal itself in the face of overwhelming democratic industrialization of ever aspect of modern life, including art.For Shelley, man was not a uniform mass there were remarkable men, and there were unremarkable men This distinction has been widely condemned in modern democratic states, where Payne s notion that men should be treated equally was mistaken for the idea that men actually are equal But Mary cuts us to the quick, reminding us that great men and particularly great artists can do little to stem the tide of the mob, or of industry.It is a strikingly postmodern message, prefiguring Nietzsche and the American postwar authors It is a message that Shelley s refined peers were not prepared to hear, so they attacked the book, and the author herself, calling her perverse and ugly She presented a perverse and ugly world, a naturalistic world, which she had come to know through hardship, and which her peers failed to see looming on the horizon.For them, Keats ultimate line Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know held few notes of irony, but for Shelley, they were already the words of a dead compatriot, whose beautiful ideas served mainly to ennoble his tragedy.Shelley s book was reviled, and her career stagnated despite all the promise of Frankenstein , The Last Man would fall out of print for than a century, and its prescient foreshadowing our modern obsessions with death, isolation, and other such eschatonic concerns went long unnoticed Now, the story she told seems familiar and reasonable, and even somewhat idealistic in the throes of slow degradation, though it stands up beside the works of Eliot and Beckett as an unrelenting vision of doom.What Shelley came to recognize, which none of her critics mentioned, was that the death of mankind is not merely marked by our spilled blood and lifeless bodies, but by the fall of art, of idealism, of love and joy, and all the heights that we have reached, or hoped to reach The death of man is a tragedy only inasmuch as it cuts off our possibility, our future, our promise though if we lived forever, we still might never reach it, there remains always, hope.


  3. says:

    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 yoursOnly 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 collapsed, buried under the rubble of its greed, to the delight of his fellow creatures, the horses and cows, and others, they are now at the top, nobody is left to mourn, the plague has destroyed a few thousand years an experiment, that never quite succeeded England in the far future, well not so far any, the time, the late 21st century , the king has abdicated, the country becomes a republic but the royals still retain their precious titles, the Earl of Windsor, Adrian modeled after Percy Shelley , the son of the last monarch , he strangely supports the new, democratic government, to the great annoyance of his haughty mother, the former Queen, now a widow, she wants the return of her privileges Lord Raymond Lord Byron , is ambitious, he desires to be king someday, but will settle now, for being Lord Protector of the nation, to rule and make England great again, in the north of the country, in hilly Cumberland, a shepherd boy, Lionel Verney loosely Mary Shelley , takes care of a farmer s sheep , his irresponsible but amusing father, was a close friend of the late king, until gambling away his money that the generous monarch, had given him to start a business Running from his unforgivable embarrassment, marries a local peasant girl, both died young, leaving Lionel and younger sister Perdita , orphans, to work at a very tender age to survive Verney, the angry young man, becomes a petty criminal leading a gang of youths, fellow shepherds, in minor destruction and killing animals in a park, that belongs to the new Earl of Windsor , and ends up in jail for a day or two When finally Adrian visits his mansion and property, after a couple of heated incidents, Lionel who blames Adrian, the son of his father s former friend, for his and Perdita troubles, becomes huge pals too and hears about Idris, the Earl s pretty sister His life is transformed from the bottom , in lowly abject poverty, to the highest levels in society, schooling, a job as a secretary to a diplomat in Vienna , coming back to his native land, meeting every important person there, elected to parliament Bringing with him, up the ladder his sister and closest confident, Perdita also Lord Raymond is smitten, by her, drops his intended, the Greek Princess Evadne who Adrian loves , he marries the untitled but lovely Perdita , to the surprise of everyone, the ruler of the nation has as a bride, a commoner Somethings never change in the future, Greeks are still fighting Turks, technology has stalled , though, the fastest transport is hot air balloons, and another mysterious illness appears in a distant corner of the Earth, killing many people, and life continues but for how long


  4. says:

    NOTE Oxford Classics introduction part can be spoilery Mary Shelley wrote 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 westwards gradually, especially during the warmer season The explanatory notes afterwards give clues to the poetry included in the book, influences and such.This book can be a hard read if you re not used to how people wrote at this time also the plague isn t even mentioned before chapter 12, though you are already informed about our main character, Lionel Verney, being all alone Until that chapter, the background of our main character s life until then has to be formed, and you might need patience with the romances and misundertandings that appear But when you reach that chapter, the story afterwards unfolds into real, heartbreaking beauty So Lionel and his sister, Perdita, have been left to fend for themselves after their parents died Perdita especially suffers from being left so much alone, though she loves her brother Lionel s job as a shepherd toughens him, in good ways since it will useful decades later One day the son Adrian of Lionel s father s former protector the last king of Britain comes to live near him, and seeks him out to both pay back for what brought Lionel s father to ruin, and to make them become friends Much friendships, hardships, and love follows and then one day he follows Adrian s close friend, Raymond, to another round of heroic battles in the Greek Turkey war, which unfortunately is the time the plague starts to spread westwardsThis book was published in 1826 Although the book is set towards the end of 21st century, it s not much different from the world of 1826 A means of flying has been invented the use of balloon flying, in good weather And the small pox has gone extinct but how is not told Otherwise nothing modern has been included There s a Greek Turkey war going on, but no other current wars are mentioned The book seems to express a reaction against romanticism so many hopes are dashed, even if the end is not completely empty of optimism The conversations in the book may feel like speeches, but are far from boring.About characters Lionel tells the story somewhat passively faithful, voice of reason, hungry for knowledgeRaymond the Byron figure pretends easily, a charming rogue, with a hunger for action and heroism, impulsive with constantly changing emotions, prone to some infidelityAdrian based on Mary Shelley s husband, Percy optimistic, very supportive, vulnerable, stubborn, somewhat weak health in youthIdris Adrian s sister and Lionel s wife tender, family centric, worries easilyEvadne a Greek another voice of reason, possessed much good pride integrity, much bad luck in life and view spoiler heartbreaking in her loneliness, even in death hide spoiler


  5. says:

    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 of which includes airships as an important means of transport.For added interest she revisits and re imagines the interrelationships of herself view spoiler her fictional alter ego is male, the idea of women being able to live the same kinds of lives as men even in a future Britain apparently seemed far too fantastical for the author who dreamt of the reanimation of dead flesh with a bit of electricity view spoiler perhaps time will reveal that all or maybe just most science fiction simply reflects the time it was written in rather than suggesting anything imaginative about the future hide spoiler


  6. says:

    Shelley s apocalypse13 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 effectively gone, and all of the other bookshops simply sell rubbish that you read once and then toss not that I am in favour of book burning, but these books are the types of books that simply take up space on an overcrowded bookshelf I jumped onto and ordered it along with a bunch of other stuff, but now that the Australian government is doing is damndest to undermine the strength of the Australian dollar, that is going to be an unlikely event in the future Anyway, when I started reading this book I found that it was pretty slow going, and because I did not want to waste my overseas holiday earlier this year reading a boring and dull book, I put it away to go back to it again later Granted, this book does start off really slow, but when you hit part two it really begins to pick up The book is set three hundred years in the future at least from Shelley s perspective, though it is only a hundred years from ours though the thing that I noticed was that technology had not effectively advanced that much While Shelley did not have much to work from with regards to speculative science fiction this only started to occur with Verne and Wells one would have expected that there was a suggestion that people were not running around in horses and carriages However, as I have suggested, the concept of speculative science fiction was still at least fifty years off, so one cannot blame Shelley for not creating a futuristic like world and in any case, it was not her intention to write a speculative piece However, the story begins with a political crisis in England actually it begins with the narrator being found wondering around as a man beast and being brought back to civilisation where there is a push for the abdication of the king and a movement to a parliamentary democracy This occurs at the end of book one, and book two begins with the former king and the narrator going on a European holiday and ending up in Greece This is interesting because at the time of writing the Greeks had just won the a war of independence with a lot of help from the likes of Lord Bryon and the British but there was still a large Turkish influence in the land The story fast forwards to the future where the protagonists join the ongoing struggle where the Turks have been completely removed from Greece and they are laying siege to Istanbul, and this is where things begin to pick up, because while the Turks are pretty much defeated, out of the ashes of Istanbul comes this disease which spreads out from the ruins of this great city to begin to envelope the world The rest of the book has the protagonist watch as the disease begins to decimate the civilised world and as one by one everybody close to him begins to die eventually leaving him left as the LAST MAN left on Earth The Last Man is a somewhat dark, yet poetic, book, and Shelley does drop in numerous lines from poets throughout the ages something that is generally not done any, but then again the writers back then wrote for the sake or writing rather than writing simply for money Shelley did not really have a need for money If you look at the Wikipedia page on this book you will see that the main characters all relate to people that Shelley knows, and it is suggested quite strongly in fact that the book is written after all of her friends had died effectively leaving her alone in the world Loneliness is a funny thing because you can be surrounded by people yet feel utterly alone, and this is the feeling I get from Shelley, being the last of her peer group to survive and since she was a woman, and back in those days women were not supposed to write because that was a male domain, it must have been very lonely for her I guess this is one of the curses of old age in that as we watch the people that we know and have known for a while begin to die we lose part of ourself because at that age, while we can still make new friends, the thing that a new friend does not have is the time spent with our old friends, the influence that we have had on each other, and the connections that a lifetime of friendship has created I know that I have friends which simply cannot be replicated by a new person because that past simply does not exist This is much truer when it comes to family because, once again, there is an aspect of the relationship that simply cannot be replicated Every relationship is different, in fact every relationship is unique because there are things and events that cannot be replicated for instance if you go to the 2010 Stereosonic Music Festival with a friend, no other friend is going to have the same experience, and the same relationship, that you had with this friend at the 2010 Stereosonic Music Festival The last thing I wish to note is that as I read this book I felt that there was a lot of Day of the Triffids here Obviously Shelley did not base her book on that book since it was written about 150 years after but I suspect that John Wyndham had been influenced somewhat by Shelley Shelley is pretty much famous for Frankenstein, however it is clear that she wrote much than just that one book While we may consider Jules Verne to be the father of Science fiction, we can go further back and consider Shelley to be its mother though this is not the first apocalyptic story written, because St John wrote one 1800 years earlier called the Book of Revelation.


  7. says:

    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 of all time, is so staggeringly good that I physically tremble when I read it, and I have read it over and over So yes, I went into this with high expectations I did not expect it to be as good as Frankenstein I did expect it to be marginally entertaining than reading a telephone book, but I was disappointed.Granted there are beautifully written passages Prose and poetry weave together in a seamless lyrical ballet, and it is nothing less than sublimely elegant But there s a reason I read Mary Shelley and not Percy Shelley Because I am interested in fiction, not in poetry There is a story buried underneath hundreds of pages of scintillating, mellifluous verse But it moves at the approximate pace that continents drift There are actual poetic passages all through the novel, just sprinkled in liberally right in the middle of chapters, where they might have proven highly distracting, if there were some sort of story being told, which, fortunately, did not present a problem These are quoted from famous poets, all from sometime before the early 19th century, of course Which immediately implies that not a single poet worth quoting arises throughout the rest of the 19th, the 20th and the 21st centuries A sentiment with which I might be inclined to agree, but then again, I m not a big fan of poetry that does not involve Nantucket Last summer I was part of a panel discussion of the five essential science fiction authors Mary Shelley topped my list, because I feel that she essentially invented the genre, half a century before Wells and Verne She was the first writer to take the cutting edge science of her own day, and envision the philosophical implications of a rational extrapolation of existing technology It was such an impressive leap of imagination that right now, as I m typing this review, I just want to reread Frankenstein yet again It is not accurate to say that the picture Shelley paints of the late 21st century includes no allusions whatsoever to technological advances There were two In the first, she describes 21st century air travel, which consists of very fast balloons Fair enough In the second, she makes a brief, vague reference to improved methods in agricultural and industrial production But that s it She foresaw artificial intelligence but not light bulbs Cars Recording sound Some means by which people communicate at a distance Was that really so hard to imagine, Mary You wrote Frankenstein Her time was slightly before that of Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur, and so she couldn t have been expected to know much about the germ theory of disease But while the world slowly succumbed to a deadly plague of unprecedented virulence, none of the characters, essentially the leaders of the free world, the Lord Protector of the most powerful nation on Earth and his inner circle, none of them think for a moment let s get some scientists to look into this No, the Lord Protector s actions in this moment of crisis are essentially limited to ensuring that the theaters remain open to keep the nation s spirits up.Isaac Asimov my other favorite science fiction writer once noted that when science fiction writers had exhausted ideas or at least grown bored with exploring speculative developments in technology, they would turn as he did to social science fiction, centered not on gadgets and gizmos, but instead toward an examination of the progression of societies themselves Shelley does this, to a degree, but the depth of her vision is disappointingly myopic She doesn t predict grand sweeping changes in society over the course of 300 years Instead, she is so bold to suggest that by the end of the 21st century, England might relinquish hereditary monarchs in favor of a small group of privileged elitist nobles electing the same guy who would have inherited the throne For the daughter of two of the most radical political philosophers of her day, I expected a slightly dramatic prognostication of political upheaval.None of this is going to diminish the high opinion I have of Mary Shelley I remain steadfast in ranking her as one of the most influential novelists ever And even while I was bored to tears and crushed with disappointment as I trudged through this elegantly dreary, beautifully dull tome, I still took note of how majestically all her words were put together as they went absolutely nowhere I only wished that she would not have tried so hard to emulate her husband and his poems, all of which together could not hold a candle to her first novel I wish she would have stuck with crafting imaginative stories in which visionary ideas are examined, raising deep philosophical questions, while simultaneously keeping the reader on the edge of his seat Percy had far too great an impact on her if you ask me, and Mary would have done well to seek out some different literary influences I wish she would have read Frankenstein.


  8. says:

    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 theory so the plague is basically the Black Plague on steroids, but she left out or skimmed over many of the most horrific parts.Few stories could have used an editor If they were to make a movie of this brick, they could pack it into a 2 hour made for TV movie without much trouble The story is worth reading, though It gets 3 stars for in it lie the seeds for many great action, SF, apocalyptic, post apocalyptic novels, but be warned most are contained in the last half of the last volume It s a long hike to get there Although it contains spoilers, I d highly recommend reading the Wikipedia entry on this story.The introduction uses an interesting device for finding the story Shelley is on vacation finds her way into the rarely visited, scary cave of Sibyl where she finds Verney s manuscript Edgar Rice Burroughs adored this device used it often He shared Shelley s theories of physiognomy which I remarked on in my recent review of The Mucker, too The book is broken into 3 volumes The first is a pastoral English novel that introduces the characters in stunning detail By stunning , I mean that I was almost stunned into insensibility by sheer boredom Think Pride and Prejudice on Prozac The most redeeming features were the autobiographical She s Verney biographical references comparisons to her circle of friends Most especially Percy as Adrian Byron as Raymond so if you re not familiar with who she was hung out with, read her bio on Wikipedia first These references run throughout the novel.The second volume is about the final war between Greece Turkey in which the plague is born, but not through any scientific artifice, just typical bad sanitation, siege, general war Warning, the Plague is first mentioned not long before the 40% mark a LONG time coming, IMO The Plague strikes the world generally everything breaks down, but Adrian provides a shining example There s a thread of just how good benevolent tyrants are for a nation.The final volume was by far the best part even that is told in a distant voice that rarely elicits much in the way of empathy Verney tells of great emotions, but I never really felt them due to the writing style his self centeredness For instance, at the end, wretched with loneliness, he finds a dog who is really happy to see him, but he doesn t mention anything about making provisions for it in his final journey As a dog lover, that s an oversight that I can t overlook.It s this final volume that holds the germ of so many great popular novels that came after Verney s access to the abandoned fruits of civilization, the dog, the False Prophet, were brought to life in I Am Legend Earth Abides Toss in zombies you have Dawn of the Dead His visit to the abandoned monuments forms an iconic scene in This Immortal The Road has the same despair aimless wandering OK, the last isn t even particularly good, but it does have some popularity Shelly has a real flair for description, although a grounding in the classics is required to understand many of her allusions There I was on firm ground, but again I wish I knew Latin I had to translate that which required searching the text copy I don t spell Latin any better than American It was trying at times, but generally the meaning was clear enough without translation I see her influence here on Zelazny this part of her style, than anything else, gave me the ability to get through the seemingly interminable first volume.My edition I ll try to correct it later is the Librivox recording which can be found here s 30 chapters were read by a dozen or so narrators so the quality varied, but most were quite good all were acceptable My appreciation to all of them The text is available for free on Project Gutenberg in a variety of formats here I recommend this to anyone with an interest in the origins of SF who is feeling somewhat masochistic.


  9. says:

    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 victimize the unwary Religious cults with a dark edge The list could go onHowever, I have to say normally, I am passionately opposed to any kind of bowdlerization or abridgement of any artistic work BUT I have never encountered another work which could so clearly have benefited from the ruthless work of a zealous editor This is touted as a book about a plague which lays waste to the earth There is not even a passing mention of a plague until 37% of the way through the extremely long book The entirety of the first part of the book is a dull pastoral drama which slowly introduces the characters and their romantic complications and woes Note the emphasis on the pastoral It s classically Romantic, bucolic idealism with a bit of politics thrown in I felt like I was reading about what the characters in a Maxfield Parrish painting do when they re not posing Although I found this part of the book frankly boring, in some ways it was definitely the best written part of the work It has the best character development and interactions The characters are apparently based on Shelley herself and her close friends the Romantic circle including her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, c , which generated interest in the book both at its time of publication and among Victorianists today In parts 2 and 3, the plague finally kicks in and some action starts happening However, the narration style becomes very removed and distancing It s all telling not showing There s pretty much no dialogue Although there are some quite interesting contents, actually getting through the pages was an effort.Below, I ve put in links to some contemporary reviews of The Last Man which I found highly entertaining Incidentally, they also serve as a good reminder to some of today s sensitive authors that scathing reviews full of personal attacks are nothing new in publishing I neither agree with nor condone the blatant sexism in some of Shelley s contemporaries critiques, however, some of their complaints are all too valid.One thing I was willing to give the author a pass on was her utter failure to predict what the 21st century might actually be like The lifestyle of her characters feels medieval than modern, in many ways I found it interesting that even the reviewers of 1826 noted that the book lacked a sense of futuristic modernity.They also noted the oddness and, to my view, inutility and lopsidedness of the Sibylline framing device.But most of all they noted the unnecessary bloatedness of the language used The style is nothing like that of Frankenstein I would never have identified it as the same author had I not known that both books came from the same pen But the pages in the work, of which this can be said, are comparatively few ornament, ornament, ornament, glittering conceit and spangled metaphor, heaped together without order, till meaning is lost in the glare of affected brilliancy, is the vice of these pages, the prevailing vice of the prose, and the poetry of all that is called the amusive, and ought to be elegant literature of the day Metaphors are not used to minister to compression, or enforce by vivid illustration but to dilate sentences into pages, or substitute shewy verbiage for ideas Panoramic Miscellany, or Monthly Magazine and Review of Literature, Sciences, Arts, Inventions, and Occurences,1 March 1826 380 386.Review of The Last Man 1826


  10. says:

    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 interesting piece of writing Shelley takes on humanity s crumbling death from an unstoppable plague with great skill, and presents a powerful critical engagement with Romanticism and its ideals, making it hard to read even the Romantic poets I appreciate without a sense of sadness and an acknowledgment of their enterprise s ultimate meaninglessness and futility Mary Shelley was certainly a interesting, perceptive, and intelligent writer than her husband, though also infinitely depressing and certainly less cuddly I might write later.