Saturday, August 18, 2007

Barzun, France

The racist critic might like to find an explanation of this skeptical stand [against race-thinking] in a book by Francisque Michel, the friend of Mérimée, on The Accursed Races in France and Spain (Paris, 1847). The work describes the inferior position of certain presumed Goths, light-haired and blue-eyed, in Southwestern France, the home of my remote ancestors. On p. 107 of Vol. I, it is said that in the town of Barzun, there were only two inhabitants belonging to this cast. . . . They have left only one daughter who, though afflicted with goiter, enjoys as great respect and consideration as the other inhabitants. Although I have never set foot in the town of Barzun and my traceable forebears left it well over a hundred years ago, it must be clear to any racist that the spirit of tolerance for other races, so unusual in that part of France, has been transmitted in the blood.
— Jacques Barzun, Race: A Study in Superstition (1937), revised ed, 1965, 199n.