Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Last Man

It is obviously convenient for writers about the End of the World to stop short of annihilating the entire human race; the preservation of a single observer conserves a narrative viewpoint whose anguish can be lavishly indulged. The significant prototype is Le dernier homme (1805; trans 1805) by Jean Cousin de Grainville (1746-1805). The Purple Cloud (1901) by M P Shiel is a transfiguration of the story of Job as well as that of Adam and Eve. In "Spikenard" (1930) by C E Lawrence (1870-1940) the survivors of world destruction are the Accursed Wanderers of the Christian mythos. In The Last Man (1940) by Alfred Noyes, God obligingly spares a Benedictine monastery to provide spiritual guidance for the eponymous hero and his Eve; but The Last Adam (1952) by Ronald Duncan (1914-1982) takes a scornful view of all such providence. [BS]

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.