One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bric-a-brac from "Bouvard and Pecuchet": Francois Raspail

   One day, as he was making his way to the forge, he was accosted by a man carrying a canvas bag on his back, who offered to sell him almanacs, pious books, holy medals, and lastly, the Health Manual of Francois Raspail.
   This little book pleased him so much that he wrote to Barberou to send him the large work. Barberou sent it on, and in his letter mentioned an apothecary's shop for the prescriptions given in the work.
   The simplicity of the doctrine charmed them. All diseases proceed from worms. They spoil the teeth, make the lungs hollow, enlarge the liver, ravage the intestines, and cause noises therein. The best thing for getting rid of them is camphor. Bouvard and Pecuchet adopted it. They took it in snuff, they chewed it and distributed it in cigarettes, in bottles of sedative water and pills of aloes.


François-Vincent Raspail (25 January 1794 – 7 January 1878) was a French chemist, naturalist, physiologist, and socialist politician.


Raspail was born in Carpentras, Vaucluse. A member of the republican Carbonari society, Raspail was imprisoned during Louis Philippe's reign (1830-1848) and was a candidate for presidency of the Second Republic in December 1848. However, he was then involved in the attempted revolt of 15 May 1848 and in March 1849 was again imprisoned as a result. After Louis Napoleon's 2 December 1851 coup his sentence was commuted to exile, from which he returned to France only in 1862. In 1869, during the liberal phase of the Second Empire (1851-1870), he was elected deputy from Lyons. He remained a popular republican during the French Third Republic, after the short-term Paris Commune in 1871.

His sons, Benjamin (eldest), François, Xavier (youngest) and Émile, were also all notable figures in the Third Republic.


[edit] Scientific achievements

Raspail was one of the founders of the cell theory in biology. He coined the phrase omnis cellula e cellula ("every cell is derived from a [preexisting] cell") later attributed to Rudolf Karl Virchow. He was an early proponent of the use of the microscope in the study of plants. He was also an early advocate of the use of antisepsis and better sanitation and diet.


[edit] Entry into politics

After the revolution of 1830, Raspail became involved in politics. He was President of the Human Rights Society, and was imprisoned for that role. While in prison, he tended sick inmates, and studied their diseases. He became convinced of the value of camphor, which he believed worked by killing extremely small parasites -- a version of the germ theory of disease.

[From Wikipedia: ]
Post a Comment