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Publisher's Summary

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.

Public Domain (P)1996 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This tale of lust and deception will satisfy any who wants a novel of psychological tension and high drama....A complex, involving plot." ( Midwest Book Review)

What listeners say about A Modern Mephistopheles

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Interesting. Not what one expects from Alcott.

I listened (and read along at times) to this, thinking it might express the trajectory of Louisa May Alcott’s writing from her gothic short stories and romances, to Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, to this late-career novel. And it does. The more elevated style of Jo’s Boys (obviously for an adult audience that had grown up on the previous two books) is in fullest flower here. This late Victorian style feels overwritten to our modern ears — I mean, it quotes extensively in one chapter from Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King,” and one of the primary characters is a poet himself of just such long narrative poems.

But except for the moralizing, melodramatic ending, and far-too ethereally pious nature of the lead female character (from Alcott, no less!), this study in the relationships between patron, artist, and muse often felt to me very much like an Iris Murdoch novel. I could have seen the two male characters and their relationship in one of her tales of strife and matched wills. I wonder if any other Murdoch fans would also discern this, or if it’s just a conviction I had that I can’t shake.

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Secrets and Wicked Wealthy People

If you enjoy Alcott's A Long Fatal Love Chase, The Inheritance, or any of her stories written under Banard, you'll enjoy A Modern Mephistopheles. Melodramatic, and suspenseful, its charm lies in it being like something Jo March might have written in her blood and thunder days. Solid narration, though at times too soft spoken that the audio must be turned up.

1 person found this helpful