Influence of the Time
In reading the book The Last Man one can get a feel for the events and beliefs of the time of the writing. I find it interesting how the social views and world events at the time of writing can influence the overall feeling of a book.
One major theme that comes through in this book is the growing influence of nationalism. When Omegarus is flying from France to Brazil one of the characters points off into the sea and tells Omegarus that this is where Great Britain used to be. This example relates to the rivalry between Britain and France, particularly at the point of time this book was written is the time that Napoleon was gaining power. A second reference to Napoleon is made near the end of the book in which Omegarus finds a crumbling statue of Napoleon in the city of Paris and states that he is a decedent of the great Napoleon.
During this time the strong Nationalist countries had colonies in the new world in which they would take resources and build their empire. In the book when the French land in the City of the Sun in Brazil the Brazilians tell them that they are not welcome there, they believed the Europeans were coming to take their resources and wanted them to leave.
Another instance of the events of the world influence the book would be the large construction projects the people of the world undertook to try to stay the effects of the world being unable to support humanity anymore. The canal project to reroute the famous rivers to use the river beds are a great example of men using their new technology to reshape the face of the earth. There was also the attempt to push back to the oceans to use the sea floor as farm land. These examples show how the industrial revolution had affected the peoples’ perspective on what sort of changes could be done to the world. The new steam powered machines allowed men to do more work than before.
I find it fascinating how you can sort of look back in time reading books and see how the technology and ideas of the time creep into the stories of the time. It makes me wonder what people will say about the dystopian novels being written now when they are read fifty years from now.
- De Granville, Xavier Cousin, The Last Man (Middleton: Wesleyan University Press, 2002)
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon Napoleon enters Alexandria on 3 July 1798