Note: France

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The Last Man, Edited by Steven E. Jones


In the wake of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars, it is significant that in The Last Man (mostly in Volume III) France is a site of anarchy and internecine conflict--when it is not a wasteland. As Verney suggestively says in III.4, "France was a blank."

In 1814, the young Mary Shelley recorded her impressions of a war-torn France in terms of "plague":

France had lately been a country in which great and extraordinary events had taken place. . . . the distress of the inhabitants, whose houses had been burned, their cattle killed, and all their wealth destroyed, has given a sting to my detestation of war, which none can feel who have not travelled through a country pillaged and wasted by this plague, which, in his pride, man inflicts upon his fellow.

(History of a Six Weeks' Tour [1817] in Moskal edn.)

Map of Mediterranean region

Published @ RC

October 1997