Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)
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In his Confessions Jean-Jacques Rousseau tells the story of his life, from the formative experience of his humble childhood in Geneva, through the achievement of international fame as novelist and philosopher in Paris, to his wanderings as an exile, persecuted by governments and alienated from the world of modern civilization. In trying to explain who he was and how he came to be the object of others' admiration and abuse, Rousseau analyses with unique insight the relationship between an elusive but essential inner self and the variety of social identities he was led to adopt. The book vividly illustrates the mixture of moods and motives that underlie the writing of autobiography: defiance and vulnerability, self-exploration and denial, passion, puzzlement, and detachment. Above all, Confessions is Rousseau's search, through every resource of language, to convey what he despairs of putting into words: the personal quality of one's own existence.
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solid objection that could be made to my system was made by Rameau. No sooner had I explained it to him than he saw its weak point. ‘Your symbols’, he said, ‘are very good in that they indicate note-values simply and clearly, represent intervals accurately, and continue to characterize fully the original note each time it is repeated, none of which is done by our usual system of notation; but they are bad in that they require a mental process that may not always be as rapid as performance
Montaigu that he ought to permit me to make this affair the subject of a memorandum to the senate; I do not remember whether or not he agreed and whether I presented the memorandum, but I remember very well that my efforts were unavailing and that, with the embargo still in place, I adopted another course of action, which was successful. I inserted an account of the affair into a dispatch to M. de Maurepas, although I had some difficulty in getting M. de Montaigu to approve even this item. I knew
have been sympathetic and illuminating, others have tended to deny any autonomy to Rousseau’s political or fictional works, and so the tendency has been to separate the autobiographical from the philosophical enterprise. In recent years, however, a number of scholars have tried to reconnect the two sides of Rousseau’s work from the opposite direction, either by rereading the Confessions in terms of the philosophical system or the fictional œuvre, or by examining the metaphors and other rhetorical
was generally felt that the permission to make my letter public, which he had somehow managed to extort from me, did not absolve him from the blame of having, in order to do me harm, taken me a little too lightly at my word. Everyone was asking what personal wrong I had done him to justify so violent a hatred. Finally it was felt that, even if the wrong I had done him was so great as to oblige him to break with me, friendship, even when extinguished, imposed obligations that he ought to have
terms of the most tender familiarity, and thus we remained for the rest of her life. I was her little one, my name for her was Maman* and little one and Maman we continued to be, even after the passage of years had all but erased the differences between us. I feel that these two names convey perfectly the nature of our attachment, the simplicity of our dealings with one another, and above all the relation between our hearts. She was the tenderest of mothers to me, never seeking her own pleasure