The Athiest's Mass by Honoré de Balzac by Honoré de Balzac - Read Online

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Honore De Balzac s The Atheist s Mass is a work of fiction set in Paris which deals with the question of faith and atheism. It centers around the characters of the renowned French surgeon Desplein and his student Bianchon. Desplein is an atheist physician who has an extraordinary capability to diagnose diseases and specify their cures. His merit is recognized by his worst enemies. However, despite being an absolute nonbeliever, Desplein is always helping the poor and healing the needy for free. Bianchon, who soon becomes his only companion and best friend, discovers one day that Desplein attends Catholic masses at the church of Saint-Sulpice. He is simply astonished when he secretly sees him kneeling at the altar and making contributions to the church. Bianchon eventually decides to confront him with his mysterious behavior and Desplein reveals the secret details of his life story. The readers learn that, as a student, Desplein used to live in very miserable conditions in one of the dirtiest slums in Paris and was evicted for not being able to pay the rent. He was only helped by a poor water carrier named Bourgeat to finish his studies. The latter decided to give him the little money he saved instead of buying a horse and a barrel for his own job. It was only with the help of his poor friend that Desplein was able to become the great doctor that he is. Being a deeply devout Catholic, Bourgeat s altruism has greatly affected atheist Desplein who, after Bourgeat s death, decides to observe the Catholic mass for his friend s sake.

Publicado: A Word To The Wise on
ISBN: 9781780006697
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THE ATHEIST’S MASS

By HONORE DE BALZAC

This is dedicated to Auguste Borget by his friend De Balzac

Bianchon, a physician to whom science owes a fine system of theoretical physiology,and who, while still young, made himself a celebrity in the medical school of Paris, that central luminary to which European doctors do homage, practised surgery for a long time before he took up medicine. His earliest studies were guided by one of the greatest of French surgeons, the illustrious Desplein, who flashed across science like a meteor. By the consensus even of his enemies, he took with him to the tomb an incommunicable method. Like all men of genius, he had no heirs; he carried everything in him, and carried it away with him. The glory of a surgeon is like that of an actor: they live only so long as they are alive, and their talent leaves no trace when they are gone. Actors and surgeons, like great singers too, like the executants who by their performance increase the power of music tenfold, are all the heroes of a moment.

Desplein is a case in proof of this resemblance in the destinies of such transient genius. His name, yesterday so famous, to-day almost forgotten, will survive in his special department without crossing its limits. For must there not be some extraordinary circumstances to exalt the name of a professor from the history of Science to the general history of the human race? Had Desplein that universal command of knowledge which makes a man the living word, the great figure of his age? Desplein had a godlike eye; he saw into the sufferer and his malady by an intuition, natural or acquired, which enabled him to grasp the diagnostics peculiar to the individual, to determine the very time, the hour, the minute when an operation should be performed, making due allowance for atmospheric conditions and peculiarities of individual temperament. To proceed thus, hand in hand with nature, had he then studied the constant assimilation by living beings, of the elements contained in the atmosphere, or yielded by the earth to man who absorbs them, deriving from them a particular expression of life? Did he work it all out by the power of deduction and analogy, to which we owe the genius of Cuvier? Be this as it may, this man was in all the secrets of the human frame; he knew it in the past and in the future, emphasizing the present.

But did he epitomize all