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The Joshua Lederberg Papers

A View of Genetics Annotation pdf (1,973,555 Bytes) ocr (53,136 Bytes)
A View of Genetics
Joshua Lederberg's published version of his public lecture/acceptance speech given in Stockholm May 29, 1959 after being awarded of the Nobel Prize in 1958.
Number of Image Pages:
22 (1,973,555 Bytes)
Lederberg, Joshua
Monograph: Lederberg, Joshua. "A View of Genetics." Les Prix Nobel En 1958. Imprimerie Royale P. A. Norstedt & Soner, 1959. Pp. 170-189. Excerpt. Monograph. Speech. 22 Images.
Lederberg UI: P81
Imprimerie Royale P. A. Norstedt & Soner
Reproduced with permission of the Medical Nobel Committee.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Genetics, Microbial
Recombination, Genetic
Transduction, Genetic
Exhibit Category:
Transduction, Plasmids, and the Foundation of Biotechnology
Lederberg Grouping: Published Scientific Article
Box Number: 80
Folder Number: 65
Unique Identifier:
Accession Number:
Document Type:
Series: Writings
SubSeries: Published Scientific Articles
Folder: P81: "A View of Genetics" (1959)
Metadata Last Modified Date:
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Annotation by Joshua Lederberg:

Errors in text:  ingenious for ingenuous; too look; (1st page)

KW:  DNA revolution;

The lecture was given , per statutes, about 6 months after
Nobel award day.  We were moving from U-Wis and it was too hectic
Nov-Dec to prepare.  With that deliberation, I decided to break tradition:
my own work (at age 33) was already obsoleted by the DNA revolution,
and I elected to talk about that!  Not all biologists were ready to
accept it yet (I think of Commoner, Lindegren, even Burnet, as
holdouts in some fashion.)

Note that last page was my formal responza at the ceremony:

                  Les Prix Nobel en 1958, pp. 40-41
                 Reply to Peroration by M.E. Rudberg:

     Le premier a repondre a ce discours fut M. LEDERBERG qui
s'exprima en ces termes:

     Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

     Pride is humbled as humility is exalted in the dignity and
splendor of this occasion.

     Who would deny his pride in the appreciation of his fellows and
to join therein with GEORGE W. BEADLE and EDWARD L. TATUM whose
exploration and teaching have inspired a generation of discovery.
Here pride must merge with humility in the same contemplation of the
webs of interdependence of each investigator in the global community
of scientific research, of each elusive fact in the continuum of
human knowledge.

     But formal eclat and public attention are so unaccustomed a
distinction that a scholar may ask by what lasting motive he is
elevated from the simpler satisfactions of academic life.  We must
concede that some aspects of Nobel's dedication have been deflected
by the force of history.  His contrition for chemical inhumanity
is shaded in the gloom of cosmic insecurity.  Many sciences, and
genetics in particular, have germinated and flowered only since his
time.  The growing complexity of science and the reticulation of its
advances must make the task of singular choice ever more difficult
and arbitrary.

     But if Nobel's honors are celebrated in Stockholm his passion
is enacted in Oslo.  His zeal for peace and international
understanding is further expressed in his testamentary "wish that in
awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the
nationality of the candidates".  The merit the prizes have won is in
the faith and courage of this trust.

     The illumination of human aspirations in intellect and in charity
which transcend nationality is then the enduring warrant of Nobel's
legacy.  Our presence honors his hopes for the fraternity of mankind.

     My greatest pride and humblest gratitude is to join in this

jl 2/5/99