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The Metaphysics of Balzac

as found in "The magic skin," "Louis Lambert, " and "Seraphita

Originally Published: 1898

by The Gestedeld Publishing Co. New York

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>> More by Ursula N. Gestefeld


I. The Unknown God

II. The Second Coming

III. Working and The Law

IV. The Creative Power of the Ideal

V. Self-Discovery Through Truth

VI. Walking By Faith

VII. Is Disease Real, or Apparent?

VIII. Health, and How to Obtain It

IX. Spiritual Medicine

X. Because of Your Unbelief

XI. The Will to Be Well

XII. Mind and Microbes

XIII. A New Beginning

XIV. Demonstrating Prosperity

XV. Inexhaustible Abundance

XVI. The Law of Attraction

XVII. The Law of Vibration

XVIII. Not According To Appearances

XIX. Pictures and Personalities

XX. Discouragement

XXI. Intuition

XXII. The Nativity and Maturity of Jesus

XXIII. Lost in Transit

XXIV. The Hidden Mystery


All existence is interpretation. As living human "beings we are interpreters of our own nature through experience of its possibilities. Confronted first by its depths, we are attracted to its heights through the drawing power of our ideals, a power that impels us upward, however strong the gravity of our sensuous nature. What is natural is succeeded by what is possible. It is this order, necessity, and result that is portrayed by Balzac in the books under consideration. Their language is the language of Humanity on its way out of the slough of Animality onward to Divinity—-the crown of glory that is destiny accomplished. Read with the intellect, they will be valued as the work of a literary genius; read with the soul, they will be appreciated as the work of a seer. Nature, our relation to Nature, and the possibilities enfolded in this relation, possibilities that begin with her servant and end only with her master, are sketched by his hand according to the illumination in his soul that revealed them. What is written from illumination must needs be read in the same light, though it be but a candle-beam in comparison with the brilliant intellect that we feed with the oil of ambition. These chapters were first written as aids to pupils who were seeking an understanding of life, a head and heart apprehension that should lead in time to that comprehension that makes him, who knows, the master of fate. They may find a field wider than that first intended, inasmuch as every member of the human family is attending the school wherein he is the student of his own nature and --at first unwittingly the fulfiller of his own destiny. In the hope that they may help to stimulate desire and search for meanings as well as things, for values as well as objects, and transfer worship from the temporal to the more enduring, through the lifting up of our ideals, they are given to the larger class, after having fulfilled their mission for the smaller one for which they were first prepared. --Ursula K Gestefeld.


Honoré de Balzac, born in 1799 and dying in 1858, was one of the giants of French literature. Working for many years in poverty and obscurity, he attained, finally, both fortune and renown. His was on of the few, perhaps too few, instances of appreciation of an author and his work, while the worker is still in the world: the rule of "stones for the living, palms for the dead" being more universally applicable. And yet, the critical student of 1839, the searcher, rather than the reader, is probably more appreciative of Balzac's work, than the average reader of 1832. Fiction without, philosophy within. Such is the nature of his chief works, which read merely as novels, fail to yield their strength. To-day the seeker for hidden treasure, the one who views the story, admirable though it may be, as the surface ore indicative of the richer deposit below, finds a mine of knowledge that richly repays the working; and that proves that Balzac had a steady controlling purpose of which he never lost sight; a purpose stated by the mouth of Louis Lambert, who is made to say, "I sought the deduction of a general system. My thought has always been to determine the actual realtions between man and God." Like many others, Balzac, incapable of the intellectual honesty involved in the acceptation of the religious dogma as infallible truth, sought for a philosphical science instead. Endeavoring to follow the sequence of cause and effect, rather than the "traditions of the elders," he attempted his deduction of a general system which he has embodied in the three books under consideration. In studying and analysing them we find the boldness and vigor, the positive individuality of one who is bent upon finding and knowing the truth for himself; and who, consequently, so far from failing in reverence for the good and the true, is so inspired with reverence as to be free from superstitious fear and to be filled with divine intoxication afforded by Truth's unveiled face. He not only portray human nature in all its phases to that grand culmination which is eternal, and necessitated by man's enduring relation to God. Dying as he did at the height of his fame and realization of his dearest wishes—for wealth had supplanted his poverty, he had married the woman of his choice and gained the beautiful home which was his cherished ideal when he lived in his garret—it might seem that this fate was unjust, did he not feel that it was not the termination of his career, but only the point where it took on a higher phase. For true it is that a man's works live after him, that the perpetuity of the message, rather than the messenger, keeps him truly living when he is dead. The vitality of Balzac's books—as of all enduring works—is the invisible soul that uttered itself in the visible words penned by the material hand. When the soul of the reader responds to the soul of the writer, he "being dead, yet speaketh."

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