Mary Shelley, The Last Man

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 to any recognizable form of literary fiction.

The first problem is the

2636 words

Citation: Allen, Graham. "The Last Man". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 February 2004 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=402, accessed 12 June 2024.]

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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