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The Last Man.

By the Author of Frankenstein.

London: Henry Colburn, 1826 Stock Code: 141979
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First edition, in a very handsome contemporary binding, of Mary Shelley's great apocalyptic novel, set at the end of the 21st century among the last survivors of a global pandemic.

Perhaps the first to explore the theme was Byron in his desolate poem "Darkness" (written at the Villa Diodati in 1816); and Thomas Campbell in 1823 published a poem entitled "The Last Man" (which was widely discussed in 1825 as a plagiarism of Byron). Mary Shelley's text, however, was nonetheless the first fully realised novel of the eschatological story genre still popular today. The Last Man is also of great biographical interest, since its main characters are thinly disguised portraits of Byron, Claire Clairmont, Percy Shelley, and Mary herself. Though now highly praised (Muriel Spark thought it equal to, perhaps even better than, Frankenstein), it was when first published violently condemned by reviewers, one calling it "the product of a diseased imagination and a polluted taste".

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3 volumes, duodecimo (183 x 113 mm). Attractive contemporary red streaked half morocco, spines in compartments with raised bands, blind tooling, and gilt titles direct, marbled sides, edges, and endpapers. Housed in a black full morocco folding box.


Light sunning to spines, very mild wear to corners and edges, vol. 3 with some abrasion to spine (some of the gilt titles delicately and expertly revived), still very handsome bindings indeed and entirely sound, some light spotting to blanks but generally very fresh and clean within, excellent condition.


Bleiler, Supernatural Fiction, p. 453; Science-Fiction: The Early Years 2020; Wolff 6281.


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