This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book reveals a musical vibrancy of style worthy of Chateaubriand, as for example the phrase that may be regarded as Balzac's own description of the novel: "ce poeme en fleurs lumineuses qui bourdonne incessamment ses melodies au coeur en y caressant des voluptes cachees, des esperances inavouees, des illusions qui s'enflamment et qui s'eteignent comme des fils de la Vierge par une nuit chaude". The difficulty in tracing his musical sensibility lies not solely in reconciling the problematic discussions in Gambara and Massimilla Doni but also in grouping alongside these discussions the scattered references to music that dot his other works and his correspondence. Music was not for Balzac merely another discipline to be added to his roster of intellectual conquests, nor an opportunity for pleasant distraction.