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A Modern Mephistopheles (Paperback) by Louisa May Alcott (Author)
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.
A favorable review from the July 1877 issue of The Atlantic Monthly; interestingly, the writer tries unsuccessfully to guess at the book's author
5 out of 5 stars Chilling... Beautiful... Evocative, January 26, 1998
By A Customer
I read Little Women in school and laughed all the way through it! I promised myself that I would never read Alcott's work again. But when I came across this book, I decided to give it a chance. This is NOT Little Women. This is an insightful, harrowing novel that is by no means for children. This book is a treasure! One you will want to read again and again!
3 out of 5 stars Hardly Devilish at All, June 22, 2004
By R. Chaffey "beckahi" (Chicago) (REAL NAME)
"A Modern Mephistopheles" is supposedly meant to be shocking and harrowing. One reason, because it was written by Louisa May Alcott, best known for docile moral tales such as "Little Women". One other reason, is because it contains descriptions of drug use and nefarious affairs. Yet there is little shocking about "A Modern Mephistopheles" except for how disappointing it truly is.
I was intrigued by this novel through the desciption given on the back. It seemed to be, and is, a departure from what we've known from Alcott. It is a tale of a failed poet Felix Canaris, who mysteriously takes up with Jasper Helwyze (nice play on a name) and is a "modern" mephistopheles because the poet has made a deal with the "devil". Canaris eventually marries and Helwyze even has control over his wife. In the end they want to escape his clutches, but it may be too late for them to be saved.
"A Modern Mephistopheles" is a poorly written update of "Faust" in disguise as a mysterious and shocking thriller. The characters are poorly written and developed. One never feels any connection with the four main characters; that of the two men and the ladies who inhabit their world. Helwyze never seems devilish enough even if he "ruins" the life of Canaris and his wife Gladys. It is filled with quotes from various sources (that are never given) that don't allow Alcott's story to speak for itself. Perhaps the reason that it can't speak for itself is because it is trying to hard to be "Faust"; since the main characters directly refer to this masterpiece several times. One is much better off reading the original than settling for this less-than-second-best remake.