What is there left to say about this remarkable man, who has occupied my thoughts and my pen (well, computer actually) for the last seven years? During 2013 (his bicentenary), my presentations to a wide variety of audiences in France and Switzerland have provided a lot of useful feedback – and large book sales !!! My final two articles – one on Bernard himself, the other on his relationship with Louis Pasteur have just been published, and in the next week or so I will post the texts here – unfortunately for my anglophone friends they were published in French (although I will locate the original English manuscripts for this site) !! It could have been otherwise, but my colleagues in the UK seem not to be interested enough in Bernard’s contributions and above all, his always-relevant train of thought and his principles. Tant pis – as they say here in France.
What next? There is a lot in the back of my mind, but foremost is the idea that science can be richly applied to the arts – practically and creatively – and vice versa. Those of you who have read my book will know that I fantasized dialogues on this subject between CB and Princesse Mathilde, cousin to Louis Napoleon (IIIrd) . Mathilde was the ‘patroness of the arts’ in the mid 19thC when CB was a guest at the Palace of Compiegne, just outside Paris. We’ll see.
As you will also remember, Emile Zola took a leaf out of Bernard’s historical masterpiece and applied ‘scientific determinism’ to (naturaliste) literature: he founded a short dynasty of such writers. Now, Zola would surely be an interesting character to write about, but his eccentricities have been well enough documented. Did you know that he was also, quite unknowingly, the link between Bernard and the foundation of the state of Israel? It’s true.
I guess that the most interesting comment on my talks came from an industrialist who attended my lecture in Macon – in the Burgundy wine-growing area. There I was talking of CB’s milieu interieur to a highly educated but not academic audience in the Academie. The gentleman in question commented that this important concept of stability and protection of the body’s interior was applicable – and had actually been applied – to commercial and industrial settings. That too has given me considerable food for thought…..and perhaps even for writing……..
Do keep in touch…..