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A Modern Mephistopheles by Louisa May Alcott
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A Modern Mephistopheles (1877)

by Louisa May Alcott

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Many people are not aware that along with writing classic children's morality books, such as Little Women, Louisa May Alcott much preferred writing sensation thrillers.

This book, which is Alcott's only completed full novel in this genre, tells the story of a young writer, who makes a sort of devil's compact with a rcih, bored old man. The old gentlman uses a variety of means to corrupt his charge, including the corruption of the writer's young and innocent wife.

For me, I enjoyed this book far more than Little Women, in which the morality seemed to get in the way of the story (though I did love the characters as a girl). A Modern Mephistopheles offered sharper writing with interesting characters, who make mistakes and suffer for them. Only the too pure wife seemed two dimensional to me. She never seemed to grow in the book beyond this girlish purity. ( )
2 vote andreablythe | Sep 22, 2009 |
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Without, a midwinter twilight, where wandering snowflakes eddied in the bitter wind between a leaden sky and frost-bound earth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
"A Modern Mephistopheles" began as a rejected sensational novel and was revised by Alcott for anonymous publication in 1877. Its subject, style, and language mark radicial deviations from those expected of Alcott. Although she is more well-known to younger readers, this republication of some of her lesser-known works have aroused renewed critical interest in her adult fiction. "A Modern Mephistopheles", which was originally published pseudonymously in 1877. It is a Gothic novel about a failed poet who makes a Faustian bargain with his tempter.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553377957, Paperback)

This chilling tale of lust, deception and greed, first published anonymously in 1877, allowed Alcott the chance to exercise "the lurid style" she believed was her "natural ambition". A novel of psychological complexity that touches on the controversial subjects of sexuality and drug use, A Modern Mephistopheles is a penetrating and powerful study of human evil and its appalling consequences.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:32 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Known for her beloved children's classics, Louisa May Alcott's true zeal was for writing sensational literature, which she chose to have published anonymously or under a pseudonym. Her favorite of these works was A Modern Mephistopheles. This chilling tale of greed, lust, and deception opens on a midwinter night when Felix Canaris, a despairing writer about to take his own life, is saved by a knock at the door. The mysterious visitor, a Jasper Helwyze, promises Felix fame and fortune in return for his complete devotion. Helwyze then plots to corrupt the overly ambitious Felix by cleverly manipulating the beautiful and innocent Gladys. And when Helwyze decides that he wants Gladys for himself, Felix must defend the adoring young woman from the destructive influence of his diabolical patron.… (more)

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