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Chapter 5  Conclusions

Quand j’aurai des enfants, se jure-t-elle [Comtesse de Ségur], j’écrirai pour eux des contes. Ils pleureront, je les consolerai, nous ne nous quitteront pas. Puis je les régalerai, je les ferai rire à nouveau, enfin, je les aimerai de toute mon âme. [Duf00, pg. 83]

5.1  Educational Impact of the Books

In the introduction to this document, I mentioned that Comtesse de Ségur incorporated several educational issues into her books. Two of these issues—trying to convince young people that education is important for them, and trying to improve obedience—are still as relevant today as they were 150 years ago.

The other issues Comtesse de Ségur addressed—kindness and dedication work better than cruelty and incompetence in teaching, pocket money is appropriate for children, people should marry for love rather than for money, and children should be allowed to engage in conversation at the dinner table—seem almost trivial today. However, their apparent lack of importance is simply due to the widespread acceptance of these ideas in modern society. This clearly indicates how la comtesse was ahead of her time with her liberating ideas about education and social behaviour.

5.2  Entertainment Impact of the Books

In her writings, la comtesse presented a vivid portrayal of nineteenth century French society, with lots of flashbacks to her childhood in tsarist Russia. Her work had a great amount of both fantasy and reality that gave it that special something that kept Comtesse de Ségur’s stories alive for so long: “Son écriture témoigne d’une pensée vive, qui n’a jamais de mal à se bloquer. […] ‘N’écris que ce que tu as vu’ est sa grande règle” [Duf00, pages 468–470].

The impact of Comtesse de Ségur’s books when viewed as entertainment can be illustrated in two ways. First, all of her children’s books are still in print, almost 150 years after their publication. Second, there was an incident that happened towards the end of her life: la comtesse was walking to church when a little boy approached her and they had the following conversation:

— Vous êtes la comtesse de Ségur?
— Oui, mon petit.
— Laissez-moi vous embrasser… [Duf00, pg. 608]

Her tombstone summarizes her life in only four words, exactly how she requested before she died on 9 February 1874, at the age of 74 and a half: Dieu et mes enfants. She became immortal like the stories that she wrote in the name of whom she called her amourets, in other words her children and grandchildren. Through her writings, Comtesse de Ségur aimed to give lessons to her readers while entertaining them at the same time.

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