ABSTRACT

The first half of the nineteenth century was everywhere inauspicious for religious music. If the knowledge of other forms of sacred music, of oratorios, chorales, and cantatas, remained alien to Honore de Balzac, simple liturgical music provided an adequate spiritual substitute. The impressions gained served as a suffusive yet vital background for, among others, the mystical pages of Seraphita. Balzac took Chateaubriand's idea seriously, for he too saw the strongest bond between the Christian religion and music in their common denominators of solitary beauty and mystery. As a symbol of nature, music is the art that purifies the soul and inspires virtue. God made perceptible to the heart through liturgy and sacred music: the Philippe Bertault calls one of the most important facts of religious psychology, and this Balzac believes. The novelist who claimed to write by the eternal truth of Religion never lost Balzac's affinity for religious music.