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On being the Last Man standing

Th last man’, as celebrated by Mary Shelley and later 19th-century writers, is a megalomaniac as well as a tragic figure. There is a kind of Faustian exhilaration attached to the last man. Knowing nothing, he is in a position to know everything, and though he can do nothing – or very little – he can also do anything.

, ‘The Last Man’ – contemporary with Mary Shelley’s novel of the same title – where the last hangman hangs the last beggar and is then overcome by anguish and remorse since there is no one to release him in his turn from his ‘cup of sorrows’: the hangman is unable to hang himself

Or is all this just Romantic self-absorption?

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