Claude Bernard was the first French scientist to be granted a state funeral: a cortège of 4000 - some say as many as 8000 - followed the hearse to his final resting place at the Père Lachaise cemetery.
Some weeks later, d'Arsonval, who during Bernard's last years had become his devoted protégé, was tidying his late master's papers in the apartment at the rue des Écoles. In a drawer, he came across research notes that he had never seen before. They showed that during his last stay in the Beaujolais, Bernard had clearly established that alcoholic fermentation was indeed possible without the participation of live yeasts. d'Arsonval immediately shared his discovery with Marcellin Berthelot, professor of Chemistry at the Collège: a man known to have closely shared Bernard's views on fermentation, and a life-long academic adversary of Pasteur. Berthelot - perhaps even maliciously - decided to publish this material in the Revue Scientifique - yet in Bernard's name249a.
When Pasteur was made aware of this, he was furious: in disbelief that his friend had not mentioned his findings to him. He then turned sour, suggesting that Bernard's sight had been failing so that he had mis-read or misinterpreted his results. He presented his own refutation of Bernard's data at the Académie des Sciences, which only added confusion249b. The issue remained under constant debate for twenty years until 1897, when the German chemist Edward Büchner showed conclusively that Bernard had been correct. Pasteur had died two years before this revelation; saved from the indignity of being proved wrong! For his proof that fermentation can occur in the absence of living organisms, Büchner was awarded the 1907 Nobel Prize in chemistry, omitting from his presentation any mention of the posthumous publication of Bernard's highly significant discovery.
Why Bernard had neither published, nor mentioned those results to Pasteur remains an enigma. Certainly, Pasteur had been most emphatic - even brash - in public about his beliefs on fermentation. Perhaps Bernard had not wished to inflict the embarrassing 'truth' on his very good friend by making his contradictory findings public. We will never know.
Shortly after Bernard's death, one of his ex-students, Henri Céard sent to the writer Emile Zola a copy of the "Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine" : in that book, Céard had seen a striking resemblance between Bernard's principle of experimental determinism and Zola's theory of naturalist writing - a sort of predictability. Zola immediately and enthusiastically endorsed Bernard's concept and published his own reference manual for naturalist writers, "The Experimental Novel": effectively a tribute to Bernard. Céard, himself an aspiring writer was promptly accepted as a member of Zola's literary 'think-tank', the Groupe de Medan.
Before he died, Bernard had entrusted Georges Barral, son of one of his friends and scientific colleagues with the task of publishing his historic play, Arthur de Bretagne - but not until five years had elapsed since his death. In his preface to the play, eventually published in 1887, Barral referred to Bernard's unhappy domestic life. Fanny Bernard subsequently won a court case, resulting in the recall and confiscation of all available copies. Subsequent editions have carried a different preface TMB63. Now aware of Zola's interest in Bernard, Georges Barral decided to send him a copy of that first edition of Arthur de Bretagne, drawing attention to his contentious biographical preface. Undoubtedly inspired, Zola's last novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, le Docteur Pascal represents, in part, Bernard's imagined life - had he indeed been obliged to become a country doctor, yet with a superior level of scientific curiosity. Thus Bernard has left us not only with a scientific, but also a distinct literary legacy.
And what became of Bernard's family?
Fanny Bernard and her two daughters moved several times before settling in Bézons, Seine-et-Oise in 1893. They established a rescue home for dogs while their house served the same function for countless cats. After their mother's death in 1901, Tony and Marie-Louise continued to live there, unmarried and childless, so that Bernard has no direct descendants. His daughters shared the inheritance of the manor house in St Julien, although there are no records to show that they lived there permanently. They died soon after one another in 1922 and 1923, following which their house in Bézons was found to be teeming with cats and in disgusting condition.