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Arthur de Gobineau
« You, my dear Monsieur de Gobineau, are a very amiable, very bright, and quite unorthodox debater with whom I have no desire to continue fighting. »
(Letter to Arthur de Gobineau,
October 22, 1843)

Arthur de Gobineau was born on July 14, 1816 at Ville d'Avray. His family was of minor nobility with no fortune to speak of, which meant that he was forced to earn his living when he arrived in Paris at the age of nineteen. He wrote serialized novels and articles for journals, but by the time he met Tocqueville, who was ten years older than him, in 1843, he had met with only modest success. He quicly became Tocqueville's protégé; in exchange for advice and lessons in journalism, Tocqueville asked him to draw up notes or to provide summaries of certain books. But what he most appreciated in his new friend was his enthusiasm for philosophical discussions, which progressively began to fill their correspondence.
In 1849, when Alexis de Tocqueville was named Minister of Foreign Affairs, he chose de Gobineau to be his head of cabinet, thus opening a diplomatic career that Gobineau never left. He was successively posted to Germany, Teheran in Persia (1855-1858 and 1861-1863), Brazil (1869 and 1870), and finally Stockholm (1872-1877). He died in Turin in 1882.
Today, however, Arthur de Gobineau is famous less for his diplomatic career than as the author of An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races. In this work, which was published in 1853 and 1855, he attempted to prove that race is the most essential factor in human history, and that a racial hierarchy existed, at the top of which was the Aryan (or Indo-European) race. The decadence of Western civilization could be explained by the impure mixing between inferior and superior races.

« Do you not see that your doctrine leads naturally to all the ills to which permanent inequality gives rise: pride, violence, contempt for one's fellow man, tyranny, and abjection in all its forms? Your doctrine and mine are intellectually worlds apart. »
(Letter to Arthur de Gobineau, November 17, 1853)

In France, the book did not meet with the success that its author had hoped for, and was sharply condemned by his protector Tocqueville - who did not hesitate to state his profound aversion and disgust at such a theory, which he described as a "theory of a horse trader rather than that of a statesman". He would go on to fight against it in letter after letter in the name of human freedom and against a determinist vision of history.
Despite these profound ideological differences, which he knew could not be overcome, Tocqueville remained steadfastly connected to the one whom he always considered to be his protégé.   play sound extractlire l'extrait sonore  

Portrait of count Arthur de Gobineau; Beauvais, musée de l'Oise © AD Oise

Portrait of count Arthur de Gobineau; Beauvais, musée de l'Oise
© AD Oise

Château de Trie at Trie-Château

Château de Trie at Trie-Château
© AD Oise

Archives

Nomination of Arthur de Gobineau as mayor of Trie-Château in 1863 © AD Oise

Nomination of Arthur de Gobineau as mayor of Trie-Château in 1863
© AD Oise

Nomination of Arthur de Gobineau as mayor of Trie-Château in 1863 © AD Oise

Nomination of Arthur de Gobineau as mayor of Trie-Château in 1863
© AD Oise

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