Confessions of Jean Rousseau. Volumes I &II.

By Jean Jacques Rousseau

Printed: 1896

Publisher: Privately printed.

Edition: Limited edition of 1000

Dimensions 16 × 24 × 4 cm
Language

Language: English

Size (cminches): 16 x 24 x 4

Condition: Very good  (See explanation of ratings)

£38.00
Buy Now

Item information

Description

Orange cloth binding with black title on the spine. Dimensions are for one volume.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

  • Note: This book carries the £5.00 discount to those that subscribe to the F.B.A. mailing list.

First true English edition. The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau. For The First Time Completely Translated Into English Without Expurgation. Illustrated with a Series of Etchings by Ed. Hedouin, And Two Portraits. Two volumes. An excellent 19th century cloth bound edition with a clean and little read interior.

The Confessions is an autobiographical book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the modern era, it is often published with the title The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to distinguish it from Saint Augustine’s Confessions. Covering the first fifty-three years of Rousseau’s life, up to 1765, it was completed in 1769, but not published until 1782, four years after Rousseau’s death, even though Rousseau did read excerpts of his manuscript publicly at various salons and other meeting places.

The Confessions was two distinct works, each part consisting of six books. Books I to VI were written between 1765 and 1767 and published in 1782, while books VII to XII were written in 1769–1770 and published in 1789. Rousseau alludes to a planned third part, but it was never completed. Though the book contains factual inaccuracies – in particular, Rousseau’s dates are frequently off, some events are out of order, and others are misrepresented, incomplete, or incorrect – Rousseau provides an account of the experiences that shaped his personality and ideas. For instance, some parts of his own education are clearly present in his account of ideal education, Emile, or On Education.

Rousseau’s work is notable as one of the first major autobiographies. Prior to the Confessions, the two great autobiographies were Augustine’s own Confessions and Saint Teresa’s Life of Herself. However, both of these works focused on the religious experiences of their authors; the Confessions was one of the first autobiographies in which an individual wrote of his own life mainly in terms of his worldly experiences and personal feelings. Rousseau recognized the unique nature of his work; it opens with the famous words: “I have resolved on an enterprise which has no precedent and which, once complete, will have no imitator. My purpose is to display to my kind a portrait in every way true to nature, and the man I shall portray will be myself.” His example was soon followed: not long after publication, many other writers (such as Goethe, Wordsworth, Stendhal, De Quincey, Casanova and Alfieri) wrote their own autobiographies in a similar fashion.

The Confessions is also noted for its detailed account of Rousseau’s more humiliating and shameful moments. For instance, Rousseau recounts an incident when, while a servant, he covered up his theft of a ribbon by framing a young girl – who was working in the house – for the crime. In addition, Rousseau explains the manner in which he disposes of the five children he had with Thérèse Levasseur, all of which were abandoned at the foundling hospital.

Debate over the truthfulness of the Confessions: According to historian Paul Johnson, Rousseau’s autobiography contains many inaccuracies.[ Will and Ariel Durant have written that the debate regarding the truthfulness of the book hinges on Rousseau’s allegation that Grimm and Diderot had connived to give a mendacious description of his relationship with Mme. d’Épinay, Mme. d’Houdetot, and themselves. As stated by Durant, most scholarly opinion prior to 1900 was against Rousseau, but subsequently several scholars including Frederika Macdonald, Pierre-Maurice Masson, Mathew Johnson, Émile Faguet, Jules Lemaître and C. E. Vaughn have reached judgments in favor of Rousseau’s veracity.

                                                                           

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic, and educational thought. His Discourse on Inequality, which argues that private property is the source of inequality, and The Social Contract, which outlines the basis for a legitimate political order, are cornerstones in modern political and social thought. Rousseau’s sentimental novel Julie, or the New Heloise (1761) was important to the development of preromanticism and romanticism in fiction. His Emile, or On Education (1762) is an educational treatise on the place of the individual in society. Rousseau’s autobiographical writings—the posthumously published Confessions (completed in 1770), which initiated the modern autobiography, and the unfinished Reveries of the Solitary Walker (composed 1776–1778)—exemplified the late 18th-century “Age of Sensibility”, and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing.

Want to know more about this item?

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about this item. In addition, it is also possible to request more photographs if there is something specific you want illustrated.
Ask a question
Image

Share this Page with a friend