Note: France


In the wake of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars, it is significant that in The Last Man (mostly in Volume III) France is a site of anarchy and internecine conflict--when it is not a wasteland. As Verney suggestively says in III.4, "France was a blank."

In 1814, the young Mary Shelley recorded her impressions of a war-torn France in terms of "plague":

France had lately been a country in which great and extraordinary events had taken place. . . . the distress of the inhabitants, whose houses had been burned, their cattle killed, and all their wealth destroyed, has given a sting to my detestation of war, which none can feel who have not travelled through a country pillaged and wasted by this plague, which, in his pride, man inflicts upon his fellow.

(History of a Six Weeks' Tour [1817] in Moskal edn.)

Map of Mediterranean region