The Last Man (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – September 10, 1998
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|Paperback, September 10, 1998||
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About the Author
- Lexile measure : 1210L
- Item Weight : 11.9 ounces
- Paperback : 512 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0192838652
- ISBN-13 : 978-0192838650
- Dimensions : 7.7 x 1.1 x 5 inches
- Publisher : Oxford University Press (September 10, 1998)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,785,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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When I returned to the store and searched on the title I found many editions. I am much happier now with the "original 1825 annotated edition" that I bought for $0.99.
Within the first five pages there were so many instances of garbled text, some to the point of unintelligibility, that it was clear something was very wrong with the edition. It appears that a printed copy was scanned with OCR and put on the market with no effort at proofreading and cleanup. DO NOT BUY THIS EDITION!
I have read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which I loved and I was interested in her
other works. It begans with a tale two orphans - Lionel and Perdita Verney. Once
from a well-off family, their father loses money and his position, they lose both parents and
struggle to survive as orphans. Later, they are reunited with their father's patron - the King
of England and his son Adrian. Lionel has reason to hate them for what he perceives as
abandonment, but soon finds friendship instead with Adrian and his sister Idris. Soon he
and Perdita also find love, but there are others that would love to see them fall. Then a
plague, time, fortunes, and war change things. Will England. . the world. . .come and
unite in a time of madness? Read and find out. Originally written in 1826. Must read!
I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been edited (a lot). It got tedious. I couldn't get engrossed in it, so it took a while to read. And, by the end, it was just depressing. I don't think I would have read it at all if I knew then what I know now. It's not poetry, but it's about what I might expect from a 300 page poem (too much). It seems written from Mary Shelley's perspective as her being the main character as a man. She should have remained a woman-I think it would have worked better.
Too hard to be succinct in this review. I'm suffering from my own complaints here. Best to just be done now.
As I followed Lionel through his existence, in each chapter he must take action against this foe that always seemed to have the upper hand in everything, and yet, each time, he knew he must move on because of the need to find others. Will he have to live in constant silence, or will there be someone out there waiting to be heard? From the Sibyl’s Cave, where it all seemed to initiate, all the way through to the end, or the start of a new beginning, this fascinating tale of intrigue led me down some desolate paths, and through some unforgettable and very picturesque forlorn valleys. Wonderful read!
Top reviews from other countries
A Tale of complicated , tragic Love eventually gives way to the extermination of the entire Human Race by Plague . The prose is rich , the plot slow-burning .
The Sister of The Last Man is a composite of Mary Shelley herself and her stepsister Claire Clairmount (who may or may not have been one of Lord Byron's many lovers)
Shelley has one character liken The Plague to a demonic goddess . Even back then ascribing the female gender to an infectious pandemic upset a lot of readers but maybe Mary knew something they didn't and we don't .
Pestilence - like Life itself - is just another manifestation of Mother Nature . And Mother Nature is often more Jungle than Garden of Eden .
The story is probably half the book's length, and grows a little like a tree: many branches and roots shoot off in different directions and when the reader reaches their ends, the author returns to the trunk.
Verney is the compassionate, but suffering, male who sees the world for what it is because he has experience of all levels of society.
His story is a mix of popular sentimental fiction, mixed with a little Gothic and Godwin/Wollstonecraft political philosophy.
England becomes a republic, with a Protector instead of King. Shelley sees only limited mixing of classes, though.
Verney may have been a pauper, but his origins were middle class, so he is acceptable as husband the the princess Idris.
All the characters tend to behave histrionically when faced with any kind of emotional scene which can be rather wearing. Mary Shelley shows, shall we say, a certain lack of restraint which gives her writing less popular appeal.
We see the wars in Greece and Turkey framed in Homerian style with world decimating plague as its outcome.
The third book is the most Gothic of all: death and horror in various forms haunt its pages. From Windsor to Paris via Dover, the last Britons suffer death and torture.
Idris's death causes her mother's repentance and transformation to crone. Lucy attends her mother's corpse while despairing of rescue. Verney is bound in the dungeons of the Tuileries, only to be rescued by the mad Juliet.
There is an excess of morbidity here.
As the human group diminishes, the melodramatic elements increase until the final storm that leaves Verney as the last man.
From here is a slow, quiet descent to his journey around the Mediterranean lands, an ending not dissimilar to that of "Frankenstein".
As an apocalypse novel, it is interesting, but, generally, this book is a curate's egg which is more suited to Mary Shelley fans and students these days.
I can however, confirm that the Kindle version was delivered promptly, without effort or problem and works perfectly on my Kindle.
Unlike the Hollywood treatment of instant global apocalypse, this is a slow burning story that manages to project the pendulum swing from optimism to growing despair and utter futility of effort onto a very understated backdrop of social disintegration - no overt riot, mayhem or looting is permitted to divert the main theme. I was astonished to realise how insidiously that sense of despair crept up on me as the story developed - surely the mark of exceptional writing.
Although I had a reasonable idea of the global plague storyline before starting the book I found myself wondering how, where and when the early narrative was going to lead into the main plot. Vol 1 and Vol 2 form what is probably one of the longest scene setters and introduction to the 'Dramatis Personae' ever written and could almost stand alone as a novella. In all honesty I did wonder at one point if the Kindle download was a technical mix up and I was reading a different story to the actual title! To the modern taste the eventual deaths of two main characters would be the start of the book proper.
I found the language refreshing in its elegance and style, contrasting with the modern devaluation (some say evolution?) of English. That said, a good dictionary is a handy tool to have on standby for some of the more florid passages.
This book is more satisfying than a Sunday roast on a table full of salads.