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The Last Man By Mary Shelley
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The Last Man portrays a future ravaged by plague and famine in which technology, religion and hope are wiped away. Shelley is the first to conceive of a future apocalypse as a literary device, and... More > would influence many writers to come. The Last Man is set in England between 2070 and 2100. Though it doesn't look a whole lot different from the 1820s (sans cars, telephones, internets), we can can imagine it is an alternate future. In it, Lionel Verney describes how he was taken in by a noblemen and he and his younger sister would come to mix with the upper crust of the art world. Eventually a plague overtakes the land: bodies lying all about, and a total breakdown of order. Despite the chaos and carnage, the main characters act heroically. Gradually everyone dies, and only a few remain. Shelley's prose is obviously old school, with romantical flourishes reminiscent of Wordsworth and Byron.< Less
Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
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Frankenstein is the classic gothic horror novel by Mary Shelley, who began writing the influential work at the age of 18. It features Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who successfully brings to life a... More > monster that eventually goes on a rampage (and no, the monster is not called Frankenstein - a mistake made even by intelligent people). The Modern Prometheus element hints at Shelley's theme that warns against the advance of the Industrial Revolution, which gone unchecked might turn into a monster. Horror fans might not think Frankenstein is gory enough, and too laden with moral subtexts for their tastes, but the book is a well crafted piece of fiction, and its contribution to subsequent genres is immeasurable. Awesome trivia: Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as part of a ghost story contest between her husband, Lord Byron, a Dr. Polidori, and herself, and the concept for it came to her in a dream.< Less