French Stories - The Mass of the Atheist by Honore de Balzac Summary & Analysis

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The Mass of the Atheist by Honore de Balzac Summary

Balzac wrote in the 19th century and is heavily influenced by the Romantic writers. As such, his work tends to magnify—perhaps exaggerate—the intensity and significance of emotion. Though the editor believes Balzac's work to be flawed in many ways, he points out that he does seem to have at least mastered his niche: the realistic depiction of an individual in his circumstances.

Balzac begins the story by introducing the Desplein, a surgeon renowned throughout France for his expertise and skill. The narrator notes, with a hint of sadness, that the fame of the surgeon tends to be as short-lived as the fame of an actor; for some reason, neither profession seems to be able to create a legacy which will survive past their deaths. Desplein had a...

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