ITARD, E.M. [i.e. Jean Marie Gaspard].

De L’Éducation d’un Homme Sauvage, ou des premiers développemens physiques et moraux du jeune sauvage de l’Aveyron.

A Paris: Chez Goujon fils… 1801

8vo, pp. (iv), 100, 4, stipple-engraved frontispiece portrait. Signed by the author and the publisher on the verso of title-page to prevent piracy. Contemporary English mottled calf (rubbed, upper joint cracked but quite firm, one upper corner a little worn), single gilt fillet on sides, flat spine gilt (but gilt mostly rubbed away), red morocco label, marbled endpapers, red edges. Armorial bookplate of the Marquess of Headfort; the monogram RT and Headfort crest at top of spine; inscribed “General Taylor” at top of half-title.

FIRST EDITION. A pupil of Pinel, Itard attempted to educate a young “wild” boy, who had lived since infancy entirely apart from human contact, and who had been found living in the woods near Aveyron. Itard’s methods were based on Condillac’s analytical approach to the acquisition of knowledge, which had been used with success in teaching deaf-mutes. However in adapting this approach, Itard created an entirely new system of pedagogy which has profoundly influenced modern educational methods. Itard’s methods were adopted by his student Édouard Séguin, who applied them successfully to educating the mentally retarded, and by Maria Montessori, who applied them to childhood education in general. The optimism which Itard displayed in this first report of this extraordinary event was not borne out, and in his second report of 1807 he was forced to conclude that the boy was incapable of learning speech, an irreversible result of prolonged isolation during a crucial period of his early childhood. G&M 4969.1 and Norman Catalogue 1144. Much has been written on this event, but a particularly good account is Harlan Lane's The Wild Boy of Aveyron, 1977.


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