Article ID: CBB151128250

The Psychologization of Geological Catastrophe in Mary Shelley's The Last Man (2015)


In the late eighteenth century, the French geologist, Georges Cuvier, employed fossil studies to prove the extinction of certain species, attributing their annihilation to past, sudden changes on the surface of the globe. I argue that Mary Shelley’s third novel, The Last Man (1826), explores various contemporary geological ideas about what caused past species extinctions, ultimately privileging her theory of plague. To support this notion, Shelley adopts Cuvier’s hypothesis of an enervating earth, portraying anti-climatic natural disasters, while also radically shifting geological catastrophism into the psychological “world” of the individual.

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Review Fani Cettl (2017) Review of "The Psychologization of Geological Catastrophe in Mary Shelley's The Last Man". Journal of Literature and Science (pp. 81-82). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Page, Michael R.
Bowerbank, Sylvia Lorraine
Sleigh, Charlotte
Hitchcock, Susan Tyler
Knellwolf, Christa
Goodall, Jane R.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Victorian Studies
Eighteenth-Century Life
Johns Hopkins University Press
W. W. Norton & Co.
Palgrave Macmillan
Pantheon Books
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Science and literature
Science fiction
Science and culture
Extinction (biology)
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
Kingsley, Charles
Wells, Herbert George
Darwin, Charles Robert
Austen, Jane
Darwin, Erasmus
Great Britain
19th century
18th century
20th century
21st century
Early modern
17th century

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