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Gladys' sweetness has destroyed me! I am suddenly mostly paralyzed. Helwyze's wickedness has destroyed me and my baby! We are fading away to pale and somber death. All this crap and I'm still poor? Aug 05, Ben rated it really liked it.

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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Greed, lust, vanity, drug use and Louisa May Alcott? Yes, the author of "Little Women" grew tired of writing "moral pap for the young," and wrote some adult works with fairly dark content for the 19th century with some autobiographical elements. The work was initially published anonymously, and due to the relatively controversial content, one can easily guess why; though it was published under Alcott's own name a year after her death.

Apparently, Alcott considered this to be her greatest work, Greed, lust, vanity, drug use and Louisa May Alcott? Apparently, Alcott considered this to be her greatest work, a retelling of Goethe's "Faust," one of the great triumphs of literature. This book draws heavily upon Goethe's classic, and also upon Hawthorne's "The Scarlett Letter," with a lateth century American feminist sensibility. Though the plot and writing seem to be a stretch at times, there are some very fine moments of beautiful writing that make up for these limitations, giving readers a work with some psychological and philosophical complexity.

The novella deals with the plight of Felix Canaris, a year old writer and his Faustian pact with the aptly named Jasper Helwyze. Canaris is "friendless, penniless, and hopeless" and all too readily seduced by the promises Helwyze makes him of literary success. His wife, Gladys, emerges the heroine of the work, and though she meets her own untimely demise, greatly affects the lives of those around her.

While "A Modern Mephistopheles" may not have cemented Alcott's place in literature the way that "Little Women" did, it is, nonetheless, worth a read at least once. It was Alcott's favorite, after all. View all 3 comments. Jun 14, Phil Syphe rated it it was ok. I knew beforehand that when "A Modern Mephistopheles" was first published it was part of an anonymous author series and LMA wasn't revealed as the true writer until some years afterwards. At the time people who knew LMA had made comments to her regarding "A Modern Mephistopheles", such as, "I know it can't have been you who wrote it.

I just couldn't get into this. Because of my respect for the author I continued to the end, although had it been full-length novel as opposed to a novella, I would've had to give up.

A Modern Mephistopheles

Owing to the occasional flash of interest, plus a decent ending to an otherwise mundane tale, I've rated this two stars instead of one. Jan 04, Linda Orvis rated it it was ok Shelves: Lousia May Alcott is one of my pet authors, and I'm almost done with all her books. I've discovered her adult works of fiction. She was a complicated woman! A Modern Mephistopheles, it turns out, was her favorite of all her creations. Be forewarned, if you decide to explore Louisa, that this book is no "Little Women.

A Modern Mephistopheles

I rank this one with "A Long and Fatal Love Chase" because of its sexual undertones and subtle message of t Lousia May Alcott is one of my pet authors, and I'm almost done with all her books. I rank this one with "A Long and Fatal Love Chase" because of its sexual undertones and subtle message of the unfair treatment of women in the Victorian age. Mephistopheles is also a study of good versus evil. If you do decide to take a chance on this one, be sure to read the Introduction AFTER you finish the book and not before.

I hate introductions that give too much of the plot away, which this one does. However, it is well worth reading. Jan 23, Cara Wood rated it liked it. For me the most entertaining parts of this book comes from Alcott's magnificent bon mots of human nature, the narrator's asides that reveal her morality and insight into the true nature of human nature for all it's good, bad and indifferent.

While far from modern, Alcott's Modern Mephistopheles is a timeless delight that pits good and evil, old and young, and selfless devotion against selfish manipulation. In contrast to her better known works, Mephistopheles doesn't not end with a happy marriag For me the most entertaining parts of this book comes from Alcott's magnificent bon mots of human nature, the narrator's asides that reveal her morality and insight into the true nature of human nature for all it's good, bad and indifferent.

In contrast to her better known works, Mephistopheles doesn't not end with a happy marriage but instead shows readers the maintenance of one, with heroine Gladys clinging to build and maintain the one she enters into in chapter 5. Jul 31, Jill rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Alcott retells the story of Faust with a more gothic, 19th-century sensibility.

I was charmed by her writing style particularly since I had only known her body of children's books. This is dark, brooding and deep.

A Modern Mephistopheles and A Whisper in the Dark by Louisa May Alcott

In studying Alcott, I learned that this type of book was her true interest and delight; she wrote children's books to make money. She has an eye for the lurid at least as lurid as possible for her time. Nov 29, Marcia rated it it was amazing Shelves: Quite departure from Little Women. This is one of the more gothic novels by Alcott. While the story does have a surprise ending, it still has the morality tale so common of the time.

There are some interesting characters but they tend to be one dimensional. Sep 14, T. A change of pace for the author: I much prefer her other works. Jul 17, Kathy rated it really liked it. A surprising volume from Louisa May Alcott - I never suspected she did anything other than "girl" books. This is quite good. Mar 13, Patrisia Sheremeta rated it liked it. A smidge on the overwrought and melodramatic side. Maybe more than a smidge. I must confess that I have never read Little Women , though I tried to force myself to sit through part of one of the movie adaptations.

It is partly because I was not brought up in North America where this book is a classic for children, maybe also because I didn't want to read about four girls though I knew one was quite the tomboy and independent spirit. Yet a few years ago, I stumbled upon the first translation into French of two of the thrilling novels she wrote under a pen name I believe I must confess that I have never read Little Women , though I tried to force myself to sit through part of one of the movie adaptations.

Yet a few years ago, I stumbled upon the first translation into French of two of the thrilling novels she wrote under a pen name I believe they were Behind a Mask and A Long Fatal Love Chase , and I simply adored them. A Modern Mephistopheles didn't go so well with me. I almost abandoned halfway through because I couldn't really see where it was going and the diction didn't really appeal to me.

I could make a parallel with Alcott herself, rebellious and decadent, and yet having interiorised her Victorian shackles so well she cannot shake them off, and we are left with that story where everyone is too busy watching themselves crossing their limits to really provoke any kind of compassion or thrill in a modern reader.

The influences are also clearly visible: Oh, and the phantom pregnancy I respect this novel by Alcott. Read the introduction after you have read the novel! Les influences sont aussi clairement visibles: Je respecte ce roman par Alcott. Jan 03, Stephanie rated it it was ok Shelves: Apparently Alcott hated writing the commercially viable stuff, which she considered pretty tame and boring, and secretly wrote darker stories, among which is this one. It may have been shocking at the time, but by today's standards is pretty tame: The introduction to the book talks about its eroticism, but I think that was a stretch- I didn't sense any at all.

What the author of the intro calls erotic I just call some old dude wanting to corrupt -spiritually, not physically- a young woman. He tries to get her to renounce her faith, but she never does, and he ends up miserable. I admit, I was hoping for something darker.

Nov 29, L. This is not one of Louisa May Alcott's autobiographical novels. In the introduction of this edition, Jo Falcon talks about Alcott "treating herself" after years of writing "Little Women" and other more decent books. Well, she's treating treating readers too. Even though this book was published in , it's one of the greatest and most sensual thrillers I've ever read.

Obviously nothing is explicit, but what is implied is a tale of great depravity and domination. His Masquerade Penguin Classics. Book Jungle March 9, Language: Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This book was both unexpected , because of the author, and predictable, as a Gothic novel.

That the good must die and the evil must suffer for the death. But I did enjoy it. One person found this helpful. Love the other side of Alcott. 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.


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In the end they want to escape his clutches, but it may be too late for them to be saved. 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.

She gives us adultery, betrayal, drugs, seduction, pregnancy, all manner of intrigue, and a heart-rending climax of redemption by reason of tragic death. Still, readers of "Little Women" and its progeny may be shocked by the thinly veiled eroticism of Alcott's once-secret novel. Felix Canaris, a starving young poet, is corrupted with promises of literary success by the Mephistophelean Jasper Helwyze, an elderly benefactor with obscure ulterior motives. Gladys, a plaster saint of a woman, is Helwyze's unwitting tool in the quasi-seduction of Canaris, whom Helwyze has moved into his own house.

Ultimately, Gladys' shining example of love, faith and sacrifice redeems the wretched young poet and the dissolute old Helwyze, but not before Gladys herself has tasted intellectual and literary pleasures that are made to seem almost pornographic. Helwyze, impotent and ill, persuades the innocent young girl to read aloud to him "George Sand's passionate romances, Goethe's dramatic novels, Hugo and Sue's lurid word-pictures of suffering and sin; the haunted world of Shakespeare and Dante; the poetry of Byron, Browning and Poe.

She often paused to question with eager lips, to wipe wet eyes, to protest with indignant warmth, or to shiver with the pleasureable pain of a child who longs, yet dreads, to hear an exciting story to the end.


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