HISTOIRE ANCIENNE MNéMONIQUE by SAINT-OUEN Mme Laure Boen de.

HISTOIRE ANCIENNE MNéMONIQUE by SAINT-OUEN Mme Laure Boen de. < >
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Using her innovative pictorial system

HISTOIRE ANCIENNE MNéMONIQUE avec des emblêmes et portraits. Méthode nouvelle pour apprendre l'histoire d'une manière prompte et ineffaçable. Paris, Hachette,.... Nancy, Vidart...1837.

1837. 12mo, pp. 264; with 26 finely engraved plates (including 3 folding plates and one folding letterpress table, and one double-page table printed vertically within text); some light marginal foxing and browning throughout, with some occasional ink markings; first folding engraved ‘key’ table cropped close at head and tail and a little creased, two small nicks at tail of the folding map, touching image border but with no loss and fore-edge protuding slightly and a little furled; with old binder’s label at tail of front pastedown; in contemporary calf, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, spine slightly sunned, covers slightly scratched, extremities lightly rubbed and worn; an appealing copy. Scarce first edition of this attractive mnemonical treatise by the noted educationalist and author of several historical works, Mme Laure Boen de Saint-Ouen (1799-1838), in this instance providing a new and effective method of teaching ancient history.
Saint-Ouen had first employed her eye-catching pictorial system in 1822 in her ‘Tableaux mnémoniques de l’histoire de France’, using small emblems designed to represent significant events: for example a small upright chariot or ship signified a victory in battle, whilst an upside down equivalent depicted a loss. A sword represented an assassination, in contrast to an hour-glass signifying a natural death. Such was the success and positive reception to her 1822 work and this new and effective method of teaching history, that Saint-Ouen published a number of similar works, notably an extensive history of England (1825), as well as a history celebrating the life of Napoleon (1833).
In the present work, the first plate provides the key, with the second presenting the reader with a map of antiquity, together with a folding table providing a comparative chronology. The attractive plates that follow each include a medallion portrait of a significant personage from ancient history, together with an accompanying ‘mnemonic medallion’ comprising a combination of emblems symbolizing the events of their life. Throughout the work, Mme Saint-Ouen poses a number of exercises and questions to test the student.
Her novel method was described by contemporary reviewers as being ‘well-conceived and well executed’ and did much to revolutionise the way that history was taught in French elementary schools. Her initial plans to publish a series of European histories to include studies of Germany, Russia, and Spain, were curtailed by her untimely death.

Bibliography: Querard, La Littérature Française Contemporaine, VI p. 285; OCLC locates copies at UCLA, Toronto, the Western University, and BnF.

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