Note: Mellor

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The Last Man, Edited by Steven E. Jones

As Anne K. Mellor points out (in her introduction to the novel, p. xxiv), it may be significant that "Verney succumbs to the plague when, heearing a moan, he compassionately but incautiously enters a dark room where he is 'clasped' by a 'negro half clad, writhing under the agony of the disease' who convulsively embraces Verney. . . . From this unwilling but powerful embrace of the racial other (significantly, this is the only time that a 'negro' is specifically mentioned in the novel), Verney both contracts and, recovering, becomes immune to the plague."

Mellor goes on to ask: "Can we see in this episode a suggestion that if one were forced to embrace the Other rather than permitted to define it exclusively as 'foreign' and 'diseased,' one might escape this socially constructed plague?"

Published @ RC

October 1997