LE CALCUL DE TÊTE by FELLENS, Ch[arles.]

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Quick mental arithmetic for all

LE CALCUL DE TÊTE Traité populaire. contenant: I. La théorie complète de l'arithmétique, telle qu'on l'exige aux examens de la ville et de la sorbonne. II. La théorie du système métrique. III. Une foule de principes abréviatifs applicables à tous les nombres, pour faire de tête et avec rapidité toute espèce de comptes. IV. Des exercices variés sur le calcul mental, et appliqués surtout aux affaires commerciales. V. La pratique du système métrique sans le secours de la plume. VI. Une infinité de questions qui peuvent servir de guide pour les achats ou les ventes. VII. Des problèmes amusants, des jeux de calculs singuliers, etc. Ouvrage dédié aux chefs d'institution, aux pères de famille, aux commis, aux ouvriers. Paris, Ch. Fellens, Libraire-Éditeur, Rue Rambuteau, 20.

1846. 8vo, pp. 271, [1] blank; generally clean and bright, though a couple of gatherings a little foxed and browned, single small worm-hole affecting out margins from ff. 217 to the end; uncut, in modern half-vellum over marbled boards, with paper label lettered in gilt, with the original blue printed wrappers bound in, coffee? stain to inside rear wrapper, upper wrapper slightly soiled with some minor marginal wear; with contemporary signature of M. de Bernon à Passaint?’ at head of upper wrapper; a good copy. Uncommon first and only edition of this self-published popular treatise on mental arithmetic by the educationalist and novelist, Charles Fellens (1806-18?). Describing himself on the title-page as ‘Professeur externe dans les principales Institutions de Paris’, Fellens dedicates his work to fathers, the heads of institutions, clerks, workers, and ‘aux jeunes gens d’un esprit sérieux qui ont la ferme volonté de s’instruire seuls’.
Divided into twenty-six chapters, the work contains ‘the complete theory of arithmetic, as required for the city and Sorbonne exams’, the metric system, various exercises helping quick commercial calculations, as well as a number of ‘fun problems, and unique calculations games’. For each, Fellens helpfully provides not only the practical exercises with their answers, but also an explanation of how the solution has been reached ‘so that the questioner does not experience any embarrassment himself, in the presence of the pupil’. This will allow, he hopes, for fathers and mothers, with no deep knowledge of arithmetic, to be able to help their children. For those older students teaching themselves, he warns the reader not to cheat by looking at the answers first!
This was one of a number of educational works penned by Fellens, including Bruits de guerre, poésie nationale (1840); Les caprices du pensionnat (1842); Les jours heureux du pensionnat (1849), before publishing a strongly didactic novel in 1850, La féodalité, ou les droits du seigneur: événements mystérieux, lugubres, scandaleux, exactions, despotisme, libertinage de la noblesse et du clergé ; suivis de La marche et la décadence de la féodalité, depuis le moyen-âge jusqu'à nos jours, and which found some success, being reprinted in 1851 and republished in 1880, with a German translation in 1851. Advertisement for the present work can be found in contemporary British Journals, and was being listed as still available for sale in 1854, boosted perhaps by the success of his novel.

Bibliography: OCLC locates only one copy at the BnF.

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