LE DERNIER HOMME, Ouvrage Posthume. Paris: Chez Deterville, Libraire, rue du Battoir, nº 16, quartier S. André-des-Arcs, 1805. 12mo, two volumes in one: pp. [1-4]  2-200; [1-4]  2-175 [176: blank] [177: errata] [178: blank] early nineteen-century full calf, spine panel richly tooled in gold, red leather title piece, all edges plain, marbled endpapers, green silk ribbon marker. First edition. The earliest fictional account of the last days of mankind, and the first of the two principal "last man" novels of the Romantic period, the other being Mary Shelley's THE LAST MAN (1826). After Graiville's suicide his book was published posthumously by his brother-in-law Bernardin de Saint-Pierre in 1805. It was met with indifference and only 40 copies of this first edition were sold. The work was rediscovered by French novelist and man of letters Charles Nodier who provided an eight-page introduction for a new, reorganized edition, now considered the standard text, the one that has been reprinted and is the basis for the most recent translation into English (an anonymous translation of Grainville's work into English was first published in England in 1806). The destruction of mankind was a fashionable theme of early nineteenth century literature, and critics have suggested that this widespread interest was initiated by LE DERNIER HOMME "In Grainville's novel, the secular end, caused by the exhaustion of the soil and human sterility, gives way in the last pages to the terminal vision of Revelation. God is also very much present throughout the story in the mission of Adam, the first man, whom God has sent back to Earth to persuade the last fertile man and woman, Omégare and Syderie, not to reproduce. But nearly all the imaginative force of LE DERNIER HOMME derives from its secular events, and from its detailed history of the future of the human race. It takes a long stride -- although this surely was not Grainville's intention -- toward secularism." - Wagar, Terminal Visions: The Literature of Last Things, p. 16. "A groundbreaking apocalyptic fantasy ..." - Anatomy of Wonder (2004) II-282. "... un ouvrage qui constitue une des pierres miliaires de la conjecture ... bien que la rareté de ses deux seules éditions en fasse une oeuvre quasiment inconnue." - Versins, Encyclopedie de l'Utopie, des Voyages Extraordinaires, et de la Science Fiction, p. 374. Alkon, Origins of Futuristic Fiction, pp. 158-91. Anatomy of Wonder (1981) 1-55 and (2004) II-282. Bleiler, The Guide to Supernatural Fiction 707. Clarke, Tale of the Future (1978), p. 2, Negley, Utopian Literature: A Bibliography 662 (recording the 1806 edition in English). An exceptionally fine copy with both half title leaves and leaf of errata at end of volume two. Enclosed in a custom velvet-lined quarter leather clamshell box. One of the three most important nineteenth-century French SF novels before Verne, the others being Bodin's LE ROMAN DE L'AVENIR (1834) and Souvestre's LE MONDE TEL QU'IL SERA (1846). (#159202).
No statement ofprinting.