AUTHOR: SHELLEY, Mary
TITLE: The Last Man.
PUBLISHER: London: Henry Colburn, 1826.
DESCRIPTION: FIRST EDITION. 3 vols., 8" x 5", entirely uncut as issued. Bound in somewhat recent 1/2 tan calf, marbled boards, two gilt lettered blue morocco spine labels.
CONDITION: Staining to a section of foredge of the first and last leaves of volume three otherwise clean and bright throughout.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: "The Last Man" is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Mary Shelley, which was first published in 1826. The book tells of a future world that has been ravaged by a plague. The novel was harshly reviewed at the time, and was virtually unknown until a scholarly revival beginning in the 1960s. It is notable in part for its semi-biographical portraits of Romantic figures in Shelley's circle, particularly Shelley's late husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron.
"The Last Man" received the worst reviews of all of Mary Shelley's novels: most reviewers derided the very theme of lastness, which had become a common one in the previous two decades. Individual reviewers labeled the book "sickening", criticized its "stupid cruelties", and called the author's imagination "diseased". The reaction startled Mary Shelley, who promised her publisher a more popular book next time. Nonetheless, she later spoke of "The Last Man" as one of her favorite works. The novel was not republished again until 1965. In the 20th century it received new critical attention.