The Arthur de Gobineau collection
The library acquired the Gobineau collection when it was put up for sale in 1903. The literary oeuvre of Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882), together with a good number of items of his furniture, his Oriental collections, and his collections of works of art, was directed towards the imperial university library in Strasbourg by Ludwig Schemann, a professor in Freiburg-im-Brisgau who had been in charge of the Gobineau-Vereinigung since 1889. Julius Euting negotiated the acquisition for the sum of 20 000 marks, half of which was financed by the St Thomas Foundation.
The collection includes the literary manuscripts of Gobineau, author not only of an "Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines", but also of a good number of less controversial works of poetry, and the books he owned, his original sculptures, the paintings and engravings he owned, his collection of other personal items and souvenirs, many from the Far East, and some of his furniture.
At various times the collection has been displayed in a separate room, but imperatives in connection with the missions of the BNU have made this impossible for the past fifty years. The recuperation of the writer-diplomat's oeuvre first by the pan-German movement, then by Hitler and his followers, has been damaging to his reputation. He was nevertheless an original character who stands out in the history of European mentalities. As such, and also because of the Oriental aspect involved, the collection deserves its place at the BNU.
For more information:
Schemann, Ludwig. Die Gobineau-Sammlung der Kaiserlichen Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek zu Strassburg. Strasbourg, 1907.