LE BON, Gustave

LE BON, Gustave. Nogent-le-Rotrou (Eure-et-Loir) 7.12.1842 — Paris 13.12.1931. French Sociologist and Anthropologist. Son of Jean-Marie Charles Le Bon, an official of Breton ancestry, and Annette Tétiot Desmarlinais. Educated in Tours, from 1860 studies in Paris. Dr.med. 1866 Paris. Instead of work as a physician he turned to writing, first on medical subjects. Participation in the Franco-Prussian war and seeing the Paris Commune changed his life. In the next years he travelled widely in Europe, Asia and North America and wrote on different subjects. After 1890 he became famous of his psychological works. Politically he was staunch conservative. Living in Paris.

Although he was no Indologist, he conducted during two or three years (1884–) an archaeological mission to India financed by the French Minister of Public Instruction. According to Grierson, he was a dilettante without understanding it and attempted often undeserved criticism against Indologists. The conclusion of his review was very close to the old joke: “Die Bilder sind gut” (and nothing beyond them).

Publications: L’Homme et les sociétés: Leurs origines et leur histoire. 1-2. 520+432 p. P. 1881.

– Civilisation des arabes. 15+705 p. P. 1884; Les premières civilisations de l’Orient. P. 1888.

The official report of his Indian travels in 5 vols. and a popular summary: Les civilisations de l’Inde. 743 p. 350 ill. P. 1887, rev. ed. 1899; Les monuments de l’Inde. 254 p. P. 1893.

Les levers photographiques et la photographie en voyage. 1-2. P. 1888-89.

 Les lois psychologiques de l’évolution des peuples. 176 p. P. 1894, 5th ed. 1901; Psychologie des foules. 1895, 6th ed. 1902; Psychologie de socialisme. 7+496 p. P. 1898, 3rd ed. 1902; Psychologie de l’éducation. 304 p. P. 1902, 13th rev. ed. 1910; La Psychologie politique et la défense sociale. P. 1910; Enseignements psychologiques de la guerre européenne. 364 p. P. 1915; La Révolution française et la psychologie des révolutions. 328 p. 1912; Psychologie des temps nouveaux. 307 p. P. 1920.

L’équitation actuelle et ses principles. 429 p. P. 1892, rev. ed. 16+356 p. 1912; L’évolution de la matière. 389 p. P.1907; L’évolution des forces. 386 p. P. 1907; Les opinions et croyances. 340 p. 1911; Aphorismes du temps présent. 6+197 p. 1913; La vie des vérités. 283 p. P. 1914; Premières conséquences de la guerre: transformation mentale des peuples. 336 p. P. 1916; La déséquitation du monde. 295 p. P. 1923; some further works.

– Many of his works were also translated into English.

Sources: Grierson’s review of his 1887 book in IA 17, 1888, 25-28, also *Foucaux, RHR 15, 1887, 209-216; Poggendorf 1883–1904; works in Catal. gén. de la libr. fr. all vols for 1886–1925; Wikipedia with several photos and further reference (also in the French version).

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