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Title: Friendship and community in last man literature, 1806-1833
Author: Redford, Catherine
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis argues that the wave of Last Man literature published between 1806 and 1833 paradoxically resists the Romantic privileging of the solitary, and is instead deeply concerned with the themes'offriendship and community. Chapter 1 considers the first two Last Man poems to be written in English and argues that this genre is rooted in the concept of community from its very beginnings. This interest in community is perceptible both on a thematic level and in terms~bf the wide network of interlinking cultural responses to the Last Man theme that these early texts inspired. Chapter 2 explores the Last Man theme within the context of the understanding of time during the Romantic age. Charting the contemporary interest in the growth and decline of communities, I argue that Romantic Last Man texts respond both to the idea of cycles and to a recent shift in the understanding of ruin. Chapter 3 demonstrates how this genre repeatedly displays a deep suspicion of communities located within an urban environment. I show how Romantic Last Man texts respond to the contemporary scientific and theological understanding of city life, ultimately figuring London as a space of deception and corruption. Chapter 4 places the Last Man narrative within the context of the Romantic fascination with posterity, demonstrating how the Romantic ideal of writing for a future audience is inverted in the two Last Man novels written during this period. Chapter 5 examines several satirical approaches to the Last Man theme, arguing that these texts comment upon the problem of competition in a genre so transfixed with originality by providing the Last Man with the companion for whom he has always longed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available