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The Last Man

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The Last Man is an apocalyptic, dystopian science fiction novel by Mary Shelley, which was first published in 1826. The book describes a future Earth at the time of the late 21st century, ravaged by a new pandemic of a mysterious disease which quickly sweeps across the world, ultimately resulting in the near-extinction of all humanity. It also includes a discussion of English culture as a republic, with Mary Shelley sitting in meetings of the House of Commons to gain an insight into the governmental political system of the Romantic era. Within the novel she dedicates it highly to her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, who drowned in a shipwreck four years before the book's publication. It is also dedicated to her close friend Lord Byron, who had died two years previously. The Last Man was critically savaged and remained largely obscure at the time. It was not until the 1960s that the novel resurfaced for the public as a work of fiction, not prophesy. The Last Man is the first piece of dystopian fiction published, yet it is debated among literary critics whether The Last Man can be classed as a dystopian novel as it excludes political themes of repression and totalitarianism of the novels of later periods such as Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four or Huxley's Brave New World.
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original title: The Last Man
language: English
date of publication: 1826
genre: post-apocalyptic novel, science fiction novel, futuristic fiction

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