Altman, Lawrence K. "Revisionist History Sees Pasteur As Liar Who Stole Rival's Ideas," New

 

Altman, Lawrence K. "Revisionist History Sees Pasteur As Liar Who Stole Rival's Ideas," New
York Times, 16 May 1995, pp. C1, C3.

"Louis Pasteur, one of the legendary figures in the history of science, lied about his research,
stole ideas from a competitor and was deceitful in ways that would now be regarded as scientific
misconduct if not fraud, according to a revisionist history published this month. None of this
would have come to light if not for a long scientific tradition: the laboratory notebook.

"The Private Science of Louis Pasteur," by Dr. Gerald L. Geison of Princeton University, is
based on an examination of Pasteur's 102 laboratory notebooks, which have been well preserved
for more than a century. The secretive and ruthless Pasteur ordered that his handwritten
notebooks should be withheld from outsiders. But an heir left them to the Bibliotheque Nationale
in Paris, where they have been open to scholars since the mid-1970s.

"Dr. Geison is one of the few historians of science to base research on laboratory notebooks. In
Pasteur's case, the research turned up serious discrepancies between his publications and public
statements and what he recorded in his notebooks. But this is not the only example of scientists
and historians as well as investigative journalists beginning to shatter myths about crucial
discoveries and those who made them. The disclosures are revealing that science is not as
objective, neat and scrupulously honest as it is portrayed."

And this makes the front page of the Science Times this week: the announcement that science is
not as objective, neat, and scrupulously honest as it is portrayed. This judgment is based on Dr.
Altman's reading of Geison's new book. And just as I have done, Altman reports initially on the
phoniness of the production of the vaccine against anthrax (which was "The Secret of Pouilly-
le-Fort," a telling of the relationship between Pasteur and his rival Jean-Joseph Toussaint.

But Pasteur's greatest coup was the saving of the life of the boys Joseph Meister and
Jean-Baptiste Joupille. With those cases, Pasteur claimed to have perfected a vaccine which
demonstrated that his vaccine worked. He claimed to have produced immunity in 50 animals.
Yet, at the time he worked on the children, he had not yet performed the experiments he claimed.
However, he guessed that his vaccine would work. And he got lucky. (This is to be the subject of
the posting I was planning to send out today.)

And there are other examples of Pasteur's perfidies in Geison's book. But Geison, as Altman
explains, is not one to try to destroy the image of Pasteur. "Dr. Geison concluded that Pasteur had
exceptional skills as an experimentalist and theoretician and that his credit should not be
diminished.

"Pasteur also mastered the rhetoric and public relations that long have been a part of science, and
he showed that even brilliant scientists gamble by cutting corners to be rivals and promote
themselves." (p. C3)

Nonetheless, Geison and Altman both recognize that, "...in a sense the Pasteur Institute was
founded on deception." (p. C3)
Geison's Description

(Taken from The Private Science of Louis Pasteur. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Press, 1995, pp. 259-267.)

Death came to Pasteur in the late afternoon of Saturday, 28 September 1895, at the age of 72, in a
simple bedroom at Villeneuve l'Estang, near Garches, an annex of the Institut Pasteur roughly a
dozen kilometers northeast of Paris. Pasteur had presumably received the last rites of the Catholic
Church from a priest of the Dominican order. Even so, he probably died as he lived, a Christian
"believer" without any deep attachment to the specific doctrinal content or rituals of the Roman
Catholic Church. Pasteur's body was embalmed and transported from Carches to a makeshift
chapel at the Institut Pasteur on the rue Dutot in Paris, where his family and disciples gathered
for a private ceremony and then opened the Institut doors to the public, which filed by the casket
in a massive wave of devotion.

By formal degree Pasteur's funeral was designated a national event at state expense. On 5
October 1895, a large and distinguished crowd filled the Cathedral at Notre Dame for High Mass.
Among the mourners were Francois Felix Faure, the new president of the Third Republic; Grand
Duke Constantine of Russia; and Prince Nicolas of Greece. The ceremony, at once solemn and
grand, reminded observers of the funeral the year before for Faure's assassinated predecessor,
President Sadi Carnot. In his funereal eloge, Raymond Poincaire, minister of public instruction
and future president of France, reported moved his listeners to tears with these words:

Adieu, dear and illustrious master! Science, which you have so grandly served - sovereign and
immortal science, became more sovereign still through you - will transmit to the most distant
ages the indelible imprint of your genius. France, which you loved so much, will proudly
preserve your venerated memory as a national good, as a consolation, as a hope. Humanity,
which you have helped, will surround your glory in a unanimous and imperishable cult wherever
national rivalries dissolve, and whenever the common faith in unlimited progress is kept alive
and strong.

As the rest of the world learned of Pasteur's death, telegrams of condolence flooded into Paris
from near and far, and every faction in France was briefly united in a national outpouring of grief
and praise for the latest fallen hero. The Parisian newspapers, even the cheap and sensationalistic
"scandal sheets," were filled with glowing obituaries and tributes. "Pasteur is eternal," blared one
leading tabloid, which, like its rivals, reproduced photographs and other heroic visual images of
Pasteur. The iconography of Pasteur has yet to find its scholar, but it is easy enough to decode the
meaning of pictures of Pasteur with muses gathered at his feet or as a savoir with a halo above
his head, sometimes bedecked with wings, suffering the little children to come unto him...

In another, more exalted form of official national recognition, Pasteur had been offered one of
the precious places reserved for the remains of French heroes in the Pantheon, bear his old
laboratory at the rule d'Ulm. But the family had already decided that he would be buried beneath
the new Institut Pasteur in what was then a remote part of Paris. Following a long cortege
through the jammed streets of Paris and a ceremony with full military honors, Pasteur's body was
temporarily placed in one of the chapel at Notre Dame. Four months later, in January 1896, his
casket was transferred to a resplendent new crypt at the Institut Pasteur, where his wife was
interred beside him upon her death in 1910....

The national outpouring of grief upon Pasteur's death came as no surprise. In a sense, it had been
rehearsed for a decade or more. Long the recipient of major scientific honors and prizes, Pasteur
had been a full-fledged national hero at least since the mid-1870s, by which time his efforts to
deploy scientific knowledge and techniques in the solution of practical problems had gained wide
publicity. In 1874, when Pasteur was barely past his fiftieth birthday, the National Assembly had
awarded him an annual state pension of 12,000 francs. His discovery of a vaccine against anthrax
in 1881 had brought him widespread fame, and the application of his rabies vaccine to human
cases in 1885 transformed him into an international living legend.

From the early 1880s on, Pasteur was invited to one celebration after another in his honor. In
1881 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor and in 1882 he was elected to the
Academie francaise, that body of forty "immortals" (or life- tenure members) which has carried
official responsibility for the purity of the French language since its foundation by Richelieu in
1635. In 1882 Pasteur was awarded a second national recompense, increasing his annual state
pension to 25,000 francs and making it transferable upon his death first to his wife and then to
his children. A year later he was honored with an official state celebration of Dole, where a
commemorative plaque was placed on the house of his birth and on the occasion of which he
gave a moving speech in memory of his parents. Thereafter, on triumphal tours abroad, Pasteur
and his expanding entourage basked in applause - notably at meetings of the International
Congress of Medical Sciences at London in 1881, in the immediate wake of the famous trial of
an anthrax vaccine at Pouilly-le-Fort, and a Copenhagen in August 1884, when Pasteur
announced that he was well on the way to a solution of the rabies problem.

But surely the two most glorious events in the last decade of Pasteur's life were the formal
inauguration of the Institut Pasteur in November 1888, and the national celebration of his
seventieth birthday on 27 December 1892. In the speeches he prepared for these two occasions,
Pasteur produced some of his most stirring and memorable prose.

The gala official inauguration of the Institut Pasteur on 14 November 1888, when Pasteur was
just a few weeks shy of his sixty- sixty birthday. With President Sardi Carnot in attendance,
Pasteur was saluted above all for his discovery of the rabies vaccine, which had inspired an
international flood of donations to establish a center for the treatment. The resulting fund, by then
amounting to roughly 2.6 million francs, had made it possible to build, equip, and modestly
endow the new institute. More than that, Pasteur himself became in Pasteur himself became in
effect its leading donor, for he pledged to donate to the institute named for him "the revenues
from the sales in France of the vaccines discovered in [this] laboratory." His collaborators,
Charles Chamberland and Emile Roux, joined him in this pledge.

Pasteur had prepared a brief speech to conclude this ceremonial inauguration of the Institut
Pasteur. But, reportedly overcome with emotion, he asked that his prepared remarks be read by
his son, Jean-Baptiste, by then a junior member of the French diplomatic corps. Pasteur began by
thanking the French state for all it had done in support his own research, and for its crucial role in
the recent educational renovation of France, "from village schools to the laboratories of advanced
research..." He then objected to the decision that "this Institute should carry my name." That, he
said, was to "reserve to a man the homage due to a doctrine," by which he presumably meant the
germ theory of disease. Yet Pasteur could not conceal his appreciation for this "excess of honor."
"Never" - his son now read from the prepared text - "never has a Frenchman addressing himself
to other Frenchmen been more profoundly moved than I am at this moment."

But the most moving official occasion was yet to come. On 27 December 1892, in honor of his
seventieth birthday, Pasteur was saluted in a famous celebration in the new grand amphitheater of
the old Sorbonne. In a scene made familiar from the painting by Rixens, the now frail Pasteur
was led into the amphitheater on the arm of President Carnot... The huge auditorium was filled to
overflowing with young students from the French lycees and universities, with his own former
pupils and assistants, with delegations from each of the major scientific schools and societies in
France, and with government officials, foreign ambassadors, and assorted dignitaries. Of the
several distinguished speakers who honored his life and work, the English surgeon Joseph Lister
was perhaps the most compelling, for he could testify to the direct influence of Pasteur's research
on the surgical revolution represented by Lister's "antiseptic" techniques.

Weak of voice and fragile in health, Pasteur was unable to deliver his own brief speech of
appreciation. Once again, he delegated the task to his only son, Jean-Baptiste. His prepared text
counseled the young students in the audience to "live in the serene peace of laboratories and
libraries," and he spoke to the foreign delegates of his "inevitable belief that science and peace
will triumph over ignorance and war, that nations will unite, not to destroy but to build, and that
the future will belong to those who have done more for suffering humanity." Amid shouts of
"vive Pasteur!" the president of the republic rose to offer Pasteur a congratulatory embrace.

As it turned out, this jubilee celebration was Pasteur's last major public appearance, but far from
his last honor. By the time he died three years later, on 26 September 1895, his name had been
given to the college in Arbois, to a village in Algeria, to a district in Canada, and to streets and
schools throughout France and the world, not to mention the Pasteur institutes already
proliferating beyond French borders.

In the case of Pasteur, then, there was no need to invent a posthumous hero. During the last two
decades of his life, he had been festooned with honors, and his grand place in history was already
secure. Yet the full apotheosis was yet to come. It is, of course, the French who find daily
occasion to remember him. Everywhere in France, streets, schools, hospitals and laboratories
carry his name. In Paris, the Boulevard Pasteur is a major artery on the Left Bank, and the Station
Pasteur is an important junction on the city's fabled Metro subway system. In the courtyard of the
Sorbonne, Pasteur's statue faces that of his contemporary and counterpart in French letters, the
great novelist Victor Hugo. A host of statues and other images of Pasteur have been erected
elsewhere in France. Until quite recently his somber portrait was imprinted on the five-franc bill,
making him the only French scientist top be honored on a note of fiscal exchange. Often
portrayed as a pious Catholic and selfless benefactor of humanity, Pasteur remains the very
model of a French hero,. As recently as the 1960s, in an opinion poll asking French
schoolchildren which historical figure had done the most for France, Pasteur won in a landslide
with 48 percent of the vote (St. Louis came in second with 20 percent, even Napoleon was a
distant third with 12 percent.)

Finally, of course, there is the Institut Pasteur in Paris, which quickly acquired and still retains a
reputation as one of the world's leading centers for biomedical research. Perhaps Pasteur's most
important legacy to the country he loved so much, the Institut Pasteur is unique among major
French research centers in that it is a private institution, as Pasteur insisted it should be from the
start, although it has become increasingly dependent on state support as it patent revenues have
declined. The centenary of the Institut Pasteur in 1988 generated considerable excitement,
including an important conference and book on its history. Its archives are not being organized
for use by scholars, and we shall soon be learning vastly more about the history of this very
special institution. Like the French language itself, the term "Institut Pasteur" even serves as a
reminder of the colonial power than France once enjoyed. Pasteur institutes have long been a part
of the French "civilizing mission" throughout the world, including especially its former colonies
in African Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. The disciples who first left Paris to spread Pasteur's
message to Africa even gave the name Pastoria to a particularly beautiful area of that continent.

Even today, the original building of the Institut Pasteur is quite literally a shrine. Outside the
building is a status depicting Jean-Baptiste Jupille's heroic struggle against a rabid dog. Inside,
the Musee Pasteur gives its visitors a palpable, almost eery sense of the hero's presence, for his
living quarters there have been preserved as they were at the time of his death. The visitor can
look into his study, still furnished with his desk, personal library, and his early portraits of his
parents. Also on view are Pasteur's bedroom and dining room and a small but important
collection of scientific instruments, flasks, and other tangible relics of his career in science. A
visitor who descends a few steps beneath the library of the original building can marvel at the
"neo-Byzantine mausoleum of marble, gold and mosaics in vivid colors" that contains the
remains of Pasteur and his wife... Until quite recently, all the workers at the Institut Pasteur
assembled twice a year to commemorate the birth and death of its founded and namesake in a
highly ritualized ceremony that has been vividly described and decoded by Nobel laureate
Francois Jacob in his splendid recent autobiography, _ The Statue Within_.

Each year, at the end of September, everyone who worked at the Institute gathered to
commemorate the death of its founder... At the appointed hour, I followed the crowd of people
emerging from their laboratories and going to the garden toward the Institute's oldest building,
where Pasteur was buried. When I arrived, the hall was already filled: young and old, department
heads and cleaning ladies rubbing elbows, wearing smocks or city clothes. All were murmuring,
greeting each other, gossiping in low voices...

A sudden hush signaled the arrival of the dignitaries... The director's brief address reminded the
personnel of the virtues on which were founded "our house," its continuity and traditions.

Then, in silence, the descent into the crypt began, in Indian file, in hierarchical order: the director
and the board; council; then the department heads, the eldest first; the heads of laboratories, their
collaborators; then the technicians and assistants; finally, the cleaning women and lab boys. Each
went slowly down some steps before passing in front of the tomb... With a cupola, columns of
poryphory, and arched vaults. At the entrance, over the whole of the vault, mosaics depicted, in
the manner of scenes from the life of Christs, those from the life of Pasteur: sheep grazing,
chickens pecking, garlands of hops, mulberry trees, grapevines, representing the treatment of
anthrax, chicken cholera, the diseases of beer, of the vine, of the silkworm. And at the summit,
the supreme image , the struggle of a child with a furious dog, to glorify the most decisive battle,
that against rabies. In the center, on the cupola's pendentives, four angels with outspread wings:
three representing the theological virtues of Faith, Charity and Hope; the fourth, judged fitting by
a turn-of-the-century scientism, representing Science.

The Cult of Pasteur Outside of France

The cult of Pasteur has obviously been promulgated most enthusiastically in France, but it is by
no means confined to his native soil. We have as yet no systematic comparative study of
Pasteur's international reputation, in his day or since. That is unfortunate, for such a study would
likely reveal a great deal about the shifting relationship between political cultures and favored
heroes or styles of science. The results would surely correlate to some degree with the larger
history of political and cultural relations between France and other countries. In particular, it is
hard to imagine that the Pastorian legend has had quite the same shape or power in Germany as
in France, especially given Pasteur's own vocal hostility toward the "Prussian chancre" and his
rivalry with such leading German scientists as Justus von Liebig and Robert Koch. True, even the
Berlin institute headed by Koch sent a telegram of condolences upon hearing of Pasteur's death,
but civility under such circumstances is hardly the same thing as enthusiastic approval or
long-term adulation. The cult of Pasteur has clearly not played as well in Germany as elsewhere.

But that "elsewhere": includes Russia, England, and the United States, to name but a few. The
legend of Pasteur obviously gained no small part of its power from French nationalism and the
"scientism" of the Third Republic, but it has also exerted a strong appeal well beyond French
borders. Pasteur's name is familiar to schoolchildren everywhere, thanks especially to his rabies
vaccine and the sterilizing techniques that have been known as "pasteurization" almost from their
inception. His achievements have been celebrated throughout the world in song, verse, paintings,
plays, posters, stamps, caricatures, films, and television.

In Russia, Pasteur was a hero from the day he treated Joseph Meister for rabies, if not long
before. His immediate reputation there doubtless benefited from an emerging Franco-Russian
entente, or political alliance, which Pasteur himself was eager to see realized. In fact, Russia is,
to my knowledge, the only foreign country for which Pasteur ever expressed genuine admiration.
But it should also be remembered that a dozen or so Russian peasants from Smolensk who had
been viciously bitten by a rapid world were among the first and most famous recipients of
Pasteur's treatment from rabies. The czarist prince Alexandre the Third, who sent 100,000
francs, was among the most generous donors to the fund for the emerging Institut Pasteur. Partly
because of the distance and difficulties of transport between France and Russia, Russian
scientists were among the first to establish foreign centers for the distribution of Pastorian
vaccines. Pasteur, who actively encouraged these efforts, eventually invited the Russian
immunologist Llya Metchnikoff to head up a section of the Institut Pasteur in Paris. In swift
order, Metchnikoff's section became a virtual Russian colony within the Institut. The full story of
the connections between the Institut Pasteur and Russian science is just beginning to be worked
out by scholars, but it is already clear that Russia was an early and enthusiastic contributor to the
cult of pasteur.

The cult also flourished in England and the United States. True, Pasteur was reviled in both
countries by a few voluble antivivisectionists, but the vast majority of English and Americans
saluted him as a hero. In fact, English and American scientist produced some of the more
glowing tributes to Pasteur and his work. Forced to choose one brief summation of the classic
legend of Pasteur, I can do no better than to evoke the words of the British scientist Stephen
Paget, who played a leading role in the biomedical defense of vivisection in both England and the
United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For Paget, as for the Canadian
William Osler after him, Pasteur was "the most perfect man who ever entered the Kingdom of
Science." Paget's remarkable tribute, published in the Spectator in 1910, continued as follows:

Here was a life, within the limits of humanity, well-nigh perfect. He worked incessantly: he went
through poverty, bereavement, ill-health, opposition: he lived to see his doctrines current over all
the world, his facts enthroned, his methods applied to a thousand affairs of manufacture and
agriculture, his science put in practice by all doctors and surgeons, his name praised and blessed
by mankind: and the very animals, if they could speak, would say the same. Genius: that is the
only word. When genius does come to earth, which is not so often as some clever people think, it
chooses now and again strange tabernacles: but here was a man whose spiritual life was no less
admirable than his scientific life. If brief nothing is too good to say of him.

Americans of most stripes were no less enthusiastic about Pasteur. Indeed, Madame Pasteur,
ordinarily so reserved and a bit suspicious of foreigners, was pleased to receive a visit from an
American medical family after her husband's death, telling them that they represented the
country that had first, most fully, and most deeply appreciated her late husband's genius. If so,
that warm American reception had less to do with Pasteur's theoretical concerns thana it did with
the practical consequences of his work. As early as the 1870s, Pasteur was awarded American
patents for his methods of manufacturing and preserving beer and wine. But it was above all his
treatment for rabies that won Pasteur the enthusiastic attention of the American public at large,
especially in the wake of the great Newark Dog Scare of December 1885. In that month, four
children who had been bitten by a presumably rabid dog in Newark, New Jersey, were sent by
ship to Paris to undergo the new Pastorian treatment. American newspapers provided breathless
day-by-day coverage of the fate of these children, all of whom escaped rabies. Upon their return
to the United States, they were even put on display, for a fee, at state fairs and carnivals.

In fact, so appealing was the Pastorian myth in the United States that it survived, indeed was
enhanced by, the muckraking journalist Paul De Kruif, scientist manque and friend-collaborator
of the prototypical American muckraker, Sinclair Lewis. In 1926 De Kruif included two chapters
on Pasteur in his classic feat of scientific popularization, _The Microbe Hunters_, which became
a phenomenal best-seller and remains in print to this day. No book did more to popularize
Pasteur (and other microbiologists) in the English-speaking world. Yet despite De Kruif's best
efforts to "humanize" Pasteur by criticizing his arrogance and reckless scientific style, the
dominant impression of Pasteur that emerges from _The Microbe Hunters_ is that of a scientific
magus - in effect, a mythic hero, an impression De Kruif himself did much to create by his
allusions to Phoenix, Zeus, and Prometheus. It is perhaps unintended tribute to Pasteur, De Kruif
emphasized his entrepreneurial showmanship and went so far as to call him "a misplaced
American."

In the 1930s, even Hollywood was attracted to the drama of Pasteur's life and career. _The Story
of Louis Pasteur_, produced by the fabled motion picture studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer featured
the great actor Paul Muni, who deservedly won and Oscar in the title role. It portrays Pasteur as a
four and not always pleasant personality who was nonetheless a scientific magician, a sort of
"great American success story." From time to time, _The Story of Louis Pasteur_ still appears on
late-night American television, where it enjoys the highest possible four-star rating from _TV
Guide_. It remains the classic visual treatment of the scientist as hero. Even now, the dominant
American image of Pasteur is that of a paragon of virtue, hard work, scientific genius, and
technical virtuosity who was a "benefactor of humanity." With the possible exceptions of
Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein, never has a scientist been so glorified, and the legend of
Pasteur remains very much alive. There is no cause to regret this, as I shall insist at the end, but it
is very instructive to examine the way in which the myth was created and sustained.
The Pastorian Myth

Geison, Gerald L. The Private Science of Louis Pasteur. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University
Press, 1995.

Pasteur, like other sages in science, has been mythologized. Associated with his name are
"images" of science-being-done as well as important discoveries: the germ theory of disease with
its attendants - the failure of spontaneous generation and the cure of anthrax and rabies, the
endless quest for new vaccines. But not only substance, also methods: he was the "great
experimenter" who bested his opponents in the laboratory with dazzling displays of technique:
the surviving sheep at Pouilly-le-Fort and those embarrassing contaminated beakers of his
laughable opponents. Finally, Pasteur is the solitary genius who is eponymously linked with
edibles which have been "pasteurized" i.e., "made safe" for people. And the applied scientist
who used his skills in science in the service of vintners and brewers. Schoolchildren, early on,
learn of these Pasteurs.

According to Geison, the myth of Pasteur, the development of his "cult," began with Pasteur
himself. For, again according to Geison, "Pasteur ... produced the outlines of a saga that
magnified his contributions to mythic proportions." (p. 267) Pasteur was a master of this
technique because "...he believed early on in his future greatness." (p. 267) And contemporaries
will recognize the principal techniques Pasteur used: he minimized the contributions of others to
positions he claimed as his own. Somehow, in writing of the background of his research, Pasteur
eliminated those to whom some credit might have been given, even close collaborators. He was,
in this, unkind in the extreme to those to whom he was most indebted: he gave no
acknowledgement to others and, in this, is very much like several other Big Name scientists.

Then too, he "had a flair for the dramatic" and made much of his experimental confrontations
with, say, Pouchet in the matter of spontaneous generation. But, undoubtedly, his demonstration
of the surviving sheep at the Pouilly-le-Fort experiment brought him international attention. But
his greatest coup, the dream of any PR agent, was the work on rabies, his saving of those two
boys Jupille and Meister - and don't forget the Russian peasants whose trek across Europe was
sensationalized in the international press! And, Geison suggests: "By the time he became a major
force on the scientific scene, he had developed a refined sense of what sort of rhetorical devices
would work best in particular contexts. He modified his tone and language according to the
audience and purpose at hand." (p. 268)

Then, too, Pasteur's illness helped his image: as he declined in health he became a sympathetic
figure. His critics had to become "respectfully silent" lest they give the impression of beating on
a "poor old man." Paradoxically, his illnesses fit with another popular image of the Pastorian age:
the suffering savant, the grief-stricken benefactor of personkind.

Undoubtedly too, the image of Pasteur benefited from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.
The Germany army may have won on its battlefield, but the war between scientific laboratories,
which represented national pride in every sense, meant that Pasteur played the White Knight to
the Huns' Robert Koch. Nationalism played no small part in forging this hero. Pasteur proved up
to the part of national hero: did he not cure anthrax, did he not cure rabies, and did he not point a
pathway in history for those who were to come after him? Indeed, the Institut Pasteur is the
physical embodiment of the germ theory of disease - the pathway other Frenchmen would follow.

And Pasteur's autobiography - although not identified as such - was written by his son-in-law but
carefully edited by Pasteur himself (Pasteur's handwritten notes still exist) and was published in
1883. Then, later, that same son-in-law, Rene Vallery-Radot, wrote the admittedly
hagiographical _The Life of Pasteur_. In that book, the image of the man is one which had been
carefully protected, carefully crafted. And, as Geison says, "...its chief function has been to
transmit the image of Pasteur that he and his family preferred. Until 1964, the immediate family
retained possession of (Pasteur's) private papers and correspondence, ... and carefully managed
what parts of the manuscripts and papers did say the light of day. Rene Vallery-Radot, in
particular, even tried to control the publication of competing biographies." (p. 274)

The myth of Pasteur does have a purpose:

Like all myths, the standard legend of Pasteur has served several useful functions.
Especially in the form purveyed in Rene Vallery-Radot's _Le vie_ and the children's
books derived from it, the legend served as a valuable reservoir of homilies for
schoolteachers and French patriots, and as a source of inspiration for young would-be
scientists. It also provided a sense of human drama and excitement as opposed to the
impersonal collective sense of science about which so many complain today. Rarely has
science been made so wonderfully simple, or so wonderfully grand and useful at once. (p.
277)

But the deconstruction of the once serviceable myth began a half-century ago with the
publication by Pasteur's nephew, Adrien Loir, of his reminiscences. In those memoirs, Loir
disclosed "revelations" about his uncle; and those memoirs proved to be "a betrayal." Loir was to
keep "family secrets" when brought on as a research assistant by Pasteur; but, as an old man, he
began the demythification of Pasteur. That process will undoubtedly continue with the careful
study of Pasteur's now public notebooks. But the deconstruction of Pasteur is not merely the
work of Loir, or historians, but, perhaps, the work of this age:

... (T)he deconstruction now underway is not merely the result of new scholarship, but
partly of larger changes in our attitudes toward heroes, science and technology. As in the
case of the mythic Edison, whose legend has gone through several transformations in
keeping with wider cultural and economic changes in American culture, so too with each
age get the Pasteur it deserves. This book seeks to contribute to that larger project of
revaluation - to deconstruct, as it were, the currently dominant image of Pasteur. That
image was forged in a context that has lost much of its meaning for us - a context in
which heroic biographies were used to transmit widely accepted moral verities and in
which science was seen as straightforwardly useful and "positive" knowledge. Even in an
age in need and search of heroes, we need no longer accept that image at face value. We
need no longer perpetuate Pasteur's image of himself. (p. 278)