Skip to main content

Gobineau, Joseph Arthur, Comte de°


GOBINEAU, JOSEPH ARTHUR, COMTE DE ° (1816–1882), French diplomat and essayist. Of his abundant literary efforts, only his Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines (1853–55) is now remembered. In this essay Gobineau simplified to the extreme current opinions on the "racial factor" in history and the hierarchy of races, white, yellow, and black. According to him, only the white or "Aryan" race, the creator of civilization, possessed the supreme human virtues, such as honor, love of freedom, etc., qualities which could be perpetuated only if the race remained pure. Though he held the Jews in no particular aversion, Gobineau believed that the Latin and Semitic peoples had degenerated in the course of history through various racial intermixtures. Only the Germans had preserved their "Aryan purity," but the evolution of the modern world condemned them too to crossbreeding and degeneracy. Western civilization must be resigned to its fate. The success of the Essai was posthumous and, predictably, assured by Gobineau's German admirers. Chief of these was Richard *Wagner, who shared his cultural pessimism, and the literary society of Bayreuth, followed by a group of authors and anthropologists who founded the Gobineau-Vereinigung in 1894. Gobineau's influence on recent history, and especially on antisemitic ideology, was due less to his dilettante philosophy of history than to the construction given it by German and other fanatics.


L.I. Snyder, The Idea of Racialism… (1962); J. Buenzod, La formation de la pensée de Gobineau et l'Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines (1967). add. bibliography: M.D. Biddiss, Father of Racist Ideology: The Social and Political Thought of Count Gobineau (1970); J. Bossel, Gobineau, 1816–1882, un Don Quichotte tragique (1981).

[Leon Poliakov]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gobineau, Joseph Arthur, Comte de°." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 15 Sep. 2019 <>.

"Gobineau, Joseph Arthur, Comte de°." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (September 15, 2019).

"Gobineau, Joseph Arthur, Comte de°." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved September 15, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.