Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wollstonecraft and the Elements of Morality

Ooh, good Google Book find:

Text not available
Elements of Morality For the Use of Young Persons. From the German By Christian Gotthilf Salzmann

If I'm not mistaken this is based on Mary Wollstonecraft's translation (although this particular edition looks like it has some revision). Wollstonecraft's original edition is also up:

Elements of Morality, for the use of children, Volume I

Volume II
Volume III

The Elements of Morality, as you would expect, is a fictionalized conduct book for children; it tells a story that is intended to make various points about ethics. Wollstonecraft's translation is, from what I understand, not woodenly literal: she regularly Anglicizes the stories, and gave a number of characters the names of her own family members. The translation was one small part of Wollstonecraft's contribution to a major interest in progressive education that was sweeping Europe at the time. Salzmann was the founder (in 1784) of the Schnepfenthal Institute, which was an experimental school built on principles drawn from Rousseau, Locke, and the educational reformer Johann Bernhard Basedow. Much of what is commonly thought of as 'Enlightenment values' is heavily drawn from the Europe-wide educational reform movement of which these were a part and, in a sense, most of Wollstonecraft's philosophical work is a contribution to this movement.

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