Nouveau cours de rhétorique, à l’usage de la jeunesse des deux sexes; dédié à sa Majesté l’Impératrice mère.

Moscow, Auguste Semen, 1818.

8vo, pp. [vi], xiii, [14]–462, [2] errata; engraved tailpieces; occasional marginal staining and light foxing, generally not affecting text, but otherwise clean and crisp; in contemporary tree calf, flat spine gilt with red label lettered in gilt; marbled endpapers; boards very lightly worn, but still an attractive copy.


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Only edition, very uncommon, of this guide to rhetoric by the Moscow-based French grammarian Pierre Hennequin (1772–1849), explicitly designed for both sexes and dedicated to the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (1759–1828).

Hennequin is very explicit that his guide is written for both sexes: ‘Je demanderois aux hommes pourquoi ils veulent s’arroger le droit exclusive d’avoir de la raison et de la cultiver, d’avoir de l’esprit et de l’orner, d’avoir un cœur et de la former, d’aquérir des connoissances et de les communiquer’. His aim, he continues, is to fight the prejudice that has historically condemned the ‘more interesting half of human society’ to ignorance and obscurity, and to encourage women to take the place in society that their talents require. The work, then, gives advice on invention, oratorical passion, rhetorical structures and techniques, the importance of good taste and style, figures of speech and the use of flourishes including repetition and parenthesis, pronunciation, and gesture.

Hennequin worked as a French teacher in Moscow throughout the 1810s, principally to young aristocratic women, before becoming professor of French at the University of Moscow in 1827. Among his other works was a Cours de literature ancienne et modern, also published by Semen in four volumes (Moscow, 1821-2).

OCLC lists only 2 copies outside Europe (Library of Congress, University of Oklahoma); not in Library Hub.

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