Meister and Jupille: Lives and Afterlives of Pasteur’s First Rabies Vaccine Patients, 1885-1940

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In 1885 Louis Pasteur successfully treated two boys from different parts of rural France, Joseph Meister and Jean-Baptiste Jupille, with his experimental rabies vaccine. Arguing that the boys played an important role in shaping images of Pasteur and his vaccine in French culture, this article reconstructs their long relationships with the scientist and then traces their evolving cultural representations during the Third Republic up to 1940. Meister, a young child from Alsace who sought salvation in Paris, was particularly assimilable to nationalist narratives that Pasteur himself encouraged. Jupille, in fighting with a rabid dog to save young children from attack, could provide an exemplar of the selfless yet virile male adolescent whom late nineteenth-century authorities sought to produce. Both boys' stories produced associations that reflected favorably on Pasteur and the Pastorians, yet each also held an independent appeal at particular moments in modern French history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-152
Number of pages28
JournalFrench Historical Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

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