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The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 29 Mar 1973
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Widely regarded as the first modern autobiography, "The Confessions" is an astonishing work of acute psychological insight. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) argued passionately against the inequality he believed to be intrinsic to civilized society. In his "Confessions", he relives the first fifty-three years of his radical life with vivid immediacy - from his earliest years, where we can see the source of his belief in the innocence of childhood, through the development of his philosophical and political ideas, his struggle against the French authorities and exile from France following the publication of Aemile. Depicting a life of adventure, persecution, paranoia, and brilliant achievement, "The Confessions" is a landmark work by one of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment, which was a direct influence upon the work of Proust, Goethe and Tolstoy among others.
From the Back Cover
In his posthumously published Confessions Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) describes the first fifty-three years of his life. With a frankness at times almost disconcerting, but always refreshing, he set out to reveal the whole truth about himself to the world and succeeded in producing a masterpiece which has left its indelible imprint on the literature of successive generations, influencing among others Proust, Goethe and Tolstoy.See all Product description
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For anyone other than a (very keen-sighted) casual reader, this book is worthless.
Unlike most subsequent autobiographers, Rousseau's principle aim is to lay bare his failings and vices without attempting to apologise to the reader for his often surprising revelations; as he often repeats, God will be the judge.
Ultimately, this is a melancholy tale about a man desperately seeking a peaceful, solitary life but unable to escape the demands and injustices of society. The final passages reveal Rousseau to be a tragic character, hounded by critics and apparently unwanted by the public, but stubbornly clinging to his priciples.
I think any intuitive introvert will feel an affinity with J-J. A deep thinking, sensitive and introspective man who was misunderstood by contemporary French Enlightenment - concrete - thinkers such as Voltaire. He only achieved respect and recognition posthumously.
Controversial, humorous, honest, open - this is a biography of a man who was ready to lay his soul bare in order to be understood in a world where extroverted, judgemental thinking ruled - and still does.
I highly recommend this book to all.
Viva Le Rousseau!
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