Mary Shelley: The Last Man (2636 words)

Graham Allen (University College Cork)
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The Last Man is without doubt Mary Shelley’s most ambitious novel. Traditionally under the shadow of Frankenstein, it has begun in recent years to attract the critical attention it so obviously deserves. The novel, however, exemplifies basic problems which stand in the way of a fuller, more mature critical reception of Mary Shelley’s writings and her unique contribution to literary Romanticism. Two interrelated problems stand out: firstly, the novel, written after the deaths of P. B. Shelley and Lord Byron, seems to encourage precisely the kind of biographically-oriented reading which has traditionally led to the marginalization of Mary Shelley’s work; secondly, as a novel The Last Man does not seem to fit in t…

Citation: Allen, Graham. "The Last Man". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 February 2004 [, accessed 05 December 2022.]

402 The Last Man 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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