The Last Englishman: National Belonging and the Outbreak Narrative in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man
- Haejoo Kim
- 영미문학교육 제25집 2호
- 등재여부 : KCI등재
- 191 - 212 (22 pages)
Contrary to the latest scholarship on Mary Shelley’s The Last Man has paid close attention to the dissolution of national boundaries, this study examines how English national identity tenaciously persists in the novel. For this reason, this study juxtaposes Mary Shelley’s The Last Man and Pricilla Wald’s outbreak narrative to examine the contradictions that structure the representation of universal humanity in pandemic narratives. According to Wald, the outbreak narrative is both a global and national form: by capturing the all-encompassing reach of globalization, the narrative form also fuels a sense of national belonging based on imagined immunity. Shelley’s pandemic fiction, in which a devastating plague incapacitates all national borders, offers profound insight into the ways in which the notion of universal humanity is deployed in the rise of modern nation-states. Even in the novel’s depiction of the pre-pandemic world, the practice of English identity hinges on one’s service to universal humanity: Shelley’s characters fight for the Greek cause against the tyranny of the Ottoman Empire, a struggle through which they become both world citizens and exemplar English subjects. Even as national boundaries collapse, a globalized practice of Englishness survives.
II. The Greek Cause: Universalizing English Identity
III. The Plague Outbreak: Anglicizing Humanity