Hora de Balzac is the narrator of this vel about Louis Lambert, a child prodigy. Balzac and Lambert are portrayed as students in Paris. They are both social outcasts who develop a love of philosophy. After a psychic dream, Lambert writes a metaphysical treatise that is later destroyed by a teacher. Lambert and Balzac have conflicting views and Lambert moves to Paris for further study. Lambert ultimately moves to the country to live with his uncle, falls in love, and gradually goes insane.