It’s this way, replied Samson; it is one thing to write as a poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can story tell or sing about things, not as they were, but as they should have been; and the historian has to write of them, not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting a single thing.
Don Quixote Part II, Ch. 3
Some twenty years ago, I wrote a book entitled A History of Immunology. It did not attempt to tell the day-by-day story of the early years as the discipline developed. Rather, it dealt with those aspects of the conceptual development of the field, and those major conflicts of ideas that interested me most. At the time, I felt that I had done full justice to ‘‘what had actually happened,’’ by telling it as I was sure that it was. But then I ran across Cervantes’ few lines quoted above, and I began to reconsider what I had written earlier. I saw that much of what I had written was slanted by my own interests and priorities, the products of my own lifetime of experiences and responses. Some events might not have been given the weight that they deserved; others had perhaps been given too much emphasis. This situation became increasingly clear as I compared ‘‘my’’ history of immunology with other more recent writings in this field – by Pauline Mazumdar, Alfred Tauber, Anne-Marie Moulin, Gilberto Corbellini, and others. Each would stake out a somewhat different approach to immunology’s early history, and no two might agree to the significance of the same phenomenon, the same interplay of ideas or personalities, or the same set of techniques. Each might well offer a different interpretation of any given event.
Here was the key word – interpret. If there were no differing interpretations, then each field would need only one historian, and there would only be one history! And this history would probably be pretty boring. It is thus clear that the historian must be to at least some extent a poet. He should interpret the ‘‘things as they were,’’ not necessarily by making up a ‘‘things as they should have been’’ but at least by giving them his own version of a life, an inner vitality, and the importance that they might well have enjoyed in the only partly definable past. In this new edition I have expanded the account in two different directions. On the one hand I have added a number of new chapters to clarify further the conceptual developments in the field.
But since the initial publication of the book I have become increasingly conscious of the important contributions of more sociological factors to the development of a science – the role of government, specialty groups and societies, technological inputs to progress, and subdiscipline formation. Even the blind alleys down which a field may sometimes wander deserve to be recorded, since they may contribute not only to an interesting history but also to a rich cultural heritage. The book is therefore
divided into two sections, one devoted primarily to the intellectual history of the field of immunology and the other to some of the more sociological factors that have affected its progress. It is clear, however, that the two areas may overlap considerably, as will be seen as early as the discussion in Chapter 2.
As with the earlier chapters, all new material reflects my own interests as colored by my own set of prejudices. As before, I have given references to studies, solutions, and reviews as close to the events as possible, in order to provide the reader with a feel for the contemporary directions of progress and the various viewpoints engaged; this, rather than later summaries that might be tainted with the historical revisionism that so often accompanies later progress.
Finally, in addition to the acknowledgments made in the Preface to the first edition, I wish also to thank Professor Thomas So¨ derqvist of Copenhagen, with whom I published a study (Cell. Immunol. 158:1–28, 1994) that has been modified to form Chapter 18 of this volume.
Woods Hole, Massachusetts