(45) Chapter 5.

At the Hôtel Ritz, an attempted rescue goes very wrong.

Public Domain Review

Though he frames it as a rescue, somewhere among Lionel’s motivations in undertaking this chapter’s dangerous mission must be his desire to find a new mate. Juliet is someone he knows and likes already; he admires her beauty; she’s young, fertile, an aristocrat by birth. If Life were trying to find a way in The Last Man, this would be its chance. But Juliet, her mind broken by what life has already done to her, shuts the door on the novel’s last erotic drive.

This installment like the previous one has required me to relocate the scenes Mary Shelley set in the Tuilleries Palace. Moving the gang of fanatics to the Hôtel Ritz meant coming up with a substitute for the palace dungeon; a disused fitness center seemed like the obvious choice. So what would true top of the line exercise equipment look like in the 2090’s of The Last Man, a world I guess to be without chromium steel? These illustrations of the machines that Dr Gustave Zander of Sweden began producing in the 1860’s get at what I picture; see more here at the permanently excellent Public Domain Review.

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