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The Last Man
Jean-Baptiste François Xavier Cousin de Grainville; I.F. Clarke, trans.; M. Clarke, trans.

Early Classics of Science Fiction

2003 • 220 pp. 5 illus. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Science Fiction / Literary Criticism - French

$17.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6608-9

Trans. from the French

Morton D. Paley describes Le dernier homme, written in the aftermath of the Terror of the French revolution and the violence of the Napoleonic wars, as ‘the projection of a... [continued in Reviews below]”—Amy J. Ransom, Science Fiction Studies

New English translation of this “demise of the human race” story.

Originally published in French in 1805, The Last Man is a powerful story of the demise of the human race. Drawing on the traditional account in Revelations, The Last Man was the first end-of-the-world story in future fiction. As the first secular apocalypse story, The Last Man served as the departure point for many other speculative fictions of this type throughout the 19th century, including works by Shelley, Flammarion and Wells. Grainville's masterful imagination is evident in the vast scale of the action as Omegarus, the Last Adam, and Syderia, the Last Eve, are led toward the moment when "the light of the sun and the stars is extinguished." This is essential reading for anyone interested in the roots of apocalyptic science fiction.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Morton D. Paley describes Le dernier homme, written in the aftermath of the Terror of the French revolution and the violence of the Napoleonic wars, as ‘the projection of a whole culture’s anxiety about its own survival.’ The same might be said of the revival of the Last Man narrative at the dawn of the twenty-first century…Given that Grainville’s work touches upon all the problems bringing us to the point of apocalypse today, the need to revisit his work and the subgenre he founded now seems more compelling than ever.”
Amy J. Ransom, Science Fiction Studies

“As we live today amid fears of overpopulation, global warming, and increased violence, we can look back and see just how insightful and prophetic both Shelley and Grainville were … Perhaps they are prophets of a future we have yet to face.”The Gothic Wanderer

“Grainville’s novel is like a textbook discourse on how we began to understand that time past becomes time future; the intimate relationship in its pages between Ruins and Futurity neatly and comprehensively illuminates the 18th century European mind beginning to become ‘our’ European mind. To have this book available will give context to the whole field of early science fiction.”John Clute, co-author of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

“A crucial document in the early history and ideology of what became science fiction.”Gary Wolfe, author of The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction

Jean-Baptiste François Xavier Cousin de Grainville (1746-1805) was ordained a priest in 1766, left the priesthood during the French Revolution, and died in 1805. Le Dernier Homme (The Last Man) was his life's work. A world-renowned scholar of early science fiction, Ian Clarke was Foundation Professor of English Studies at Strathclyde University. Margaret Clarke was a Lecturer in English in a College of Education.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:52:28 -0500