When I first opened “La science des ingénieurs dans la conduite des travaux de fortification et d’architecture civile” I became ovewhelmed by the excessive amount of text and seeming lack of information regarding the individual topics and wherein the book they could be found. There is of course an index found at the end of the book in which the separate “Livres” are written as well as their chapters and subcategories, but this was not clear at a first glance.
The book opens with a warning from the editor, followed by a biography on the life of the author Bélidor which goes on for several pages. The preface carries on for quite a bit as well and it is only once all of these are said and gone that we reach the title page of the “livre premiere”.
Each of the “livres” within the book follow the same structure:
They start with a preface on what to expect in the upcoming “livre” and it is incredibly wordy with small writing. All in all, rather tedious and difficult to look at. Then comes the first chapter and a definition of what is to be tackled. The definition is short and swiftly followed by the “proposition première” and its subsequent theory as well as a demonstration. All written of course with minimum aid from images. The next section is divided into smaller “remarques” regarding the first proposition in the chapter and leads easily into the next proposition with nary a line break or need for a new page. The remarks are all titled and numbered and so show a clear division between the themes yet are written in a smaller font of italic and thus easy to overlook and misread.
There is the occasional proposition which comes without remarks or with the added paragraph of a cautious warning. The author also had a penchant for the usage of extremely lengthy footnotes known to take up entire pages. The universal structure goes as such:
- Tables and Imagery
Were someone to leaf through this book they would most likely overlook any tables and number charts as well as any calculations written within the paragraphs and assume that they had just picked up an incredibly weighty work of fiction.
The regular structure of livres and the chapters found within mean that using the provided index is simple. Finding the wanted chapters without utilizing the page numbers would be rather difficult however, seeing as the lack of decoration and small text would make them difficult to find.
Key words: compact/order/regimented