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The Purple Cloud

M. P. Shiel

Book Overview: 

The story, a recording of a medium's meditation over the future writing of the text, details the narrator's (Adam Jeffson's) expedition to the North Pole during the 20th century on board the Boreal. Jeffson's fiancée, the Countess Clodagh, poisons her own cousin in order to secure a place on the ship for Jeffson, because the expedition was known to be one of the best ever planned.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .igh, throwing placid shadows on the aisle between; some being of a lucid emerald tint; and three or four pouring down cascades that gave a far and chaunting sound. The sea between was of a strange thick bluishness, almost like raw egg-white; while, as always here, some snow-clouds, white and woolly, floated in the pale sky. Down this avenue, which produced a mysterious impression of Cyclopean cathedrals and odd sequesteredness, I had not passed a mile, when I sighted a black object at the end.

I rushed to the shrouds, and very soon made out a whaler.

Again the same panting agitations, mad rage to be at her, at once possessed me; I flew to the indicator, turned the lever to full, then back to give the wheel a spin, then up the main-mast ratlins, waving a long foot-bandage of vadmel tweed picked up at random, and by the time I was within five hundred yards of her, had worked myself to such a pitch, that I was again. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This book is amazingly entertaining and, by coincidence, extremely topical. I wonder why it never became that popular worldwide. Perhaps it will soon.

Just think about the trouble we're currently having with that Icelandic vulcano, the tongue-twister Eyjafjallajokull.
What if those spiteful ashes were

H.P. Lovecraft lo tenía claro: ”La mejor novela de ciencia ficción escrita hasta la fecha.”

Siempre me han fascinado las historias que tratan sobre “el último hombre sobre la tierra”. ‘La nube púrpura’ (The Purple Cloud, 1901) ha entrado por méritos propios en mi olimpo personal sobre este particular

This is a strange and unsettling novel, quite original. It chronicles one man's discovery that he is the last man on earth. The central character, Adam, returns from an Arctic expedition to find that a purple cloud has passed over the surface of the earth, killing everything. The main plot of the no

Creepy, influential and accomplished… what else is there to say about Matthew Phipps Shiel’s 1901 landmark “last man on Earth” novel - ‘The Purple Cloud’?

Well, quite a bit really, if like me you want to exorcise its somewhat baleful shadow from your mind. Don’t get me wrong, this is a remarkable wo

Those who know me know that I self-identify as a loner. But a loner with a social side. So a novel about what it is to be utterly alone (as in everyone else in the human race has died off) could seem like the perfect segue to delightful flights of fancy. But I did mention I have a social side. Shiel

Set text for University

This was a strange apocalyptic novel which follows Adam Jeffson: the first man to reach the North Pole and the last man left alive on earth. Upon discovering that a peach-smelling purple cloud of poisonous gas has obliterated the world, he travels around the silent globe in se

Il folle di Babilonia, l'uguale del Cielo

“E adesso volavo in preda a una demente ilarità, perché una follia, una vertigine, si erano impossessati di me, finché alla fine, come sollevato nell'aria, pazzamente ballando, correvo, turbinavo, stringendo i denti che chiacchieravano e farfugliavano per con

A very strange book combining an accomplished fin-de-siecle prose style with the cosmic horror of Poe, it possesses an apocalyptic savagery and fierce isolation all its own.

Ho riletto per la seconda volta “La nube purpurea” a distanza di decenni, e ancora una volta mi ha avvinto come un bambino. Tanti e compositi gli elementi di fascinazione, e forse il principale è la difficoltà di incasellare questo libro in una qualche classificazione. Una trama fantastica, che non

Immediately upon finishing The Purple Cloud I had to reread H.P. Lovecraft's novella "At the Mountains of Madness." Both stories deal with forbidden polar expeditions and world-shattering revelations. Where Lovecraft's story revealed a past and a cosmos where humans hardly signified, Shiel's is a re

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