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Mass-Market Inspiration

September 06, 1987

I did not "stumble upon" "A Modern Mephistopheles"; my footsteps were illumined first by Alcott's journal entries, and then by the collective Alcott scholarship that is available. As the bibliography appended to the Bantam Classics edition attests, I have studied this valuable scholarship, and have no intention of obscuring the work of others. In fact, I was inspired in my pursuit of a mass-market publisher not only by my own desire to make this intriguing novel readily available to the public, but by Madeleine Stern's assertion in "Critical Essays on Louisa May Alcott" that "A Modern Mephistopheles" has not yet been subjected to the modern criticism it deserves." When I began this project, there were, to my knowledge, no editions in print; now there are two. How wonderful it is that scholars have been working toward common goals, and how delightful that Alcott's favorite of her adult novels now enjoys the limelight.

OCTAVIA COWAN

San Diego

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