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A Modern Mephistopheles

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  273 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
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 appa ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Bantam (first published 1877)
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(showing 1-30)
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Alexis Neal
Jun 06, 2012 Alexis Neal rated it liked it
Shelves: 100-books
Struggling poet/author Felix Canaris is willing to do just about anything to make a name for himself. Also, he's flat broke. So when the wealthy and intimidating Jasper Helwyze comes knocking with a tantalizing offer, Felix doesn't even think twice before trading away his freedom for the fame and comfort he's always wanted. Felix soon chafes under Jasper's dominion, and when the old man's machinations lead him to order Felix to woo and marry the naive and innocent young Gladys, Felix balks. But ...more
Jul 20, 2011 Noce rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ma la Alcott non ha rischiato di morire di autonoia scrivendolo?

Se fosse un accessorio sarebbe un cammeo di corallo.
Se fosse un luogo sarebbe un boudoir.
Se fosse una figura retorica sarebbe una diallage.
Se fosse un aperitivo, sarebbe analcolico.
Se fosse un animale sarebbe un bradipo in menopausa.

Se fosse una storia come lo è infatti, sarebbe quella che narra di un Lele Mora in versione distinta che assieme ad un improbabile Gina Lollobrigida, decide di indirizzare le sorti di due burattini
Aug 05, 2013 Ben rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Orvis
Jan 04, 2009 Linda Orvis rated it it was ok
Shelves: historicals
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." So far I've read three of the recently discovered adult books she wrote. I rank this one with "A Long and Fatal Love Chase" because of its sexual undertones and subtle message of t ...more
Jul 31, 2007 Jill rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of classic texts
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. 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). I also recommend A Long Fatal Love Chase by her.
Patrisia Sheremeta
Mar 13, 2017 Patrisia Sheremeta rated it liked it
A smidge on the overwrought and melodramatic side. Maybe more than a smidge.
Angélique Moreau
Dec 17, 2013 Angélique Moreau rated it liked it
Shelves: xix-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie Jewett
Jan 03, 2017 Stephanie Jewett rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
So this book is NOT what you would necessarily expect from the author of Little Women. 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: an older man befriends a young man, saving his life and providing him with fame and fortune, but exacts a price- namely, that the young man do everything the older g ...more
L.J. Longo
Nov 29, 2016 L.J. Longo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 1877, 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. The Faust myth made sexual and b
Elise Barker
May 21, 2014 Elise Barker rated it really liked it
I am working on a book chapter about Little Women, and even though I had read some of Alcott's sensational fiction a few years ago, I wanted to get a fresh taste of her adult-themed literature before I settled too comfortably into any assumptions about the the domestic works for children for which she is more famous. Although A Modern Mephistopheles certainly illuminates the darkness and cruelty of which human heart is capable, I found it to be much more comfortably and conventionally Victorian ...more
Phil Syphe
Jun 14, 2015 Phil Syphe rated it it was ok
Before reading this I was expecting something as good as, and similar to, "A Long Fatal Love Chase" or some of LMA's superb thrillers; however, this novella is one of few works by Ms Alcott that I found tedious.

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
Dec 04, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Perhaps because I've already read Confessions of an Opium-Eater and Lady Audley's Secret, drug use and the suggestion of adultery in a Victorian novel is hardly enough to make me appalled. While I understand the bravery it took to release a work of this nature even under a pseudonym for the famous creator of Little Women, only the idea that a shocking secret would be revealed at the end of the overwrought prose kept me reading. The characters felt more like types than fully fleshed human beings, ...more
Kayla Michelle
Jun 25, 2013 Kayla Michelle rated it it was ok
I think the appeal of this novel comes mainly with the shock value of "Louisa May Alcott wrote what?!" And there certainly are some shocks - themes of obsession, greed, drugs, and homoeroticism certainly don't mesh with the squeaky clean image Alcott portrayed in her more well-known morality tales. I appreciate Alcott's lurid side, but I didn't find this novel particularly well-written. It's much more of a character study without much plot to spread around. I'm glad I read it, simply for sake of ...more
Cara Wood
Jan 23, 2015 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 ...more
Mar 23, 2013 Angela rated it it was ok
As much as Louise May Alcott supposedly prefered to write adult fiction, there's a reason she made her money in children's fiction. This story went nowhere. There were about two pages of actual plot, the rest was a commentary on Helwyze's awfulness and Olivia's beauty and Jasper's moodiness and Gladys' goodness. For being a relatively short book, it felt like it dragged on. Not a complete disaster, but not a book I'll remember either.
Dec 03, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it
This felt like a story that Jo March would have written. So while reading it I imagined Jo reading it to me, with Beth laying on my shoulder and Marmee looking on while finishing her needlework. This was all after a skate on Walden Pond of course.

The story seemed a little scandalous for the time, full or romance and intrigue. I liked A Long, Fatal Love Chase more, but definitely enjoyed A Modern Mephistopheles.
Jul 06, 2012 Sibylle rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Very non-Alcott. This story was not published under her name and you can see why when you read it. There's no Little Women here. It's not a happy-go-lucky tale. This one is dark and kind of scary, definitely freaky. I enjoyed it; Alcott still is an amazing writer. But it is much darker than anything I read by her.

Definitely not for the little girls that love Little Women, but maybe for the girls that grew up with little women.
Jun 14, 2009 Lynn rated it it was amazing
A great story that highlights what the first feminists really were like. A far cry from today's feminist.

An early book written by Louisa May Alcott but initially published under another name. A great story about what influences and shapes a person's character.

I highly recommend this book to anyone!

Amber McAlister
Sep 25, 2007 Amber McAlister rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoy creepy books
i found this book to be alarmingly creepy for a classic. perhaps my opinion of it is inextricably tied to the innocence of youth, who knows. but i thought it was wonderful and was one of the first books that i recall giving me a genuinely unsettled feeling due to the implication of evil that it detailed.
lola Franco
Aug 14, 2009 lola Franco rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
only the second book i couldn't finish. am not sure why i couldn't. god knows i gave it a chance, trying for over 3 years to get into it. but in the end, life is too short to finish a book i can't get into.
Sep 22, 2011 Janice rated it really liked it
I was certainly surprised to find that Louisa May Alcott really preferred to write adult books to writing stories for children. This is a fine retelling of the Faust story in her modern times. I enjoyed it very much.
Jun 19, 2009 Gwynne rated it it was ok
Supposedly a proto-feminist retelling of Faust, but neither the Faust parallel nor the very timid feminism really makes an impression. Maybe I'm just rusty in my appreciation for Victorian prose, but I found this incredibly tedious. And seriously, if I had to read one more flower metaphor...
A Modern Mephistopheles - Louisa May Alcott
I loved this. A little difficult to read but worth the effort. Alcott was a brilliant writer, who unfortunately was not allowed to publish outside of a certain genre. Makes me think of Melville -- see my review of Confidence Man.
Whitney (First Impressions Reviews)

A cross between Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet. I've read several other novels of Louisa May Alcott under the pseudonym A.M.Barnard and isn't my favorite. A bit slow until the last 25% of book. Had a satisfactory (if not sad) ending.
Erin O'Neill
Quite a surprising read from the author of the beloved "Little Women". I remember thinking how wonderfully gifted she was to express such a complete departure from that famous series of of other books.
Nov 30, 2014 Kristi rated it it was amazing
The Mephistopheles plot was one Alcott returned to frequently. In this originally anonymous story, she crafted with lurid sophistication, a cautionary tale about the dangers of passion and temptation.
Oct 05, 2011 Rrshively rated it it was ok
Although the writing of this story is brilliant, I didn't enjoy reading it and skipped some parts. To me it is a horror story that is difficult to live through with Mr. Canaris and Gladys.
May 14, 2009 Maren rated it really liked it
certainly not one of my "wow, this was great literature!" reads, but it was enjoyable in the sense that romance novels are, with a dash of good writing and sensibility.
Feb 13, 2013 Leigh rated it it was ok
Not nearly as good as A Long Fatal Love Chase.
Jan 28, 2009 Tamara rated it it was ok
Shelves: just-for-fun
I love Louisa Alcott, but this book was torture. The end was better than I expected--hence the 2 stars
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As A.M. Barnard:
Behind a Mask, or a Woman's Power (1866)
The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treherne's Temptation (1867)
A Long Fatal Love Chase (1866 – first published 1995)
First published anonymously:
A Modern Mephistopheles (1877)

Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. She and her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth and May were educated by their father, philosopher/ t
More about Louisa May Alcott...

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