|About the Book|
Confessions is the autobiography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Its often published with the title The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to distinguish it from Augustine of Hippos Confessions, the book from which Rousseau took the title.MoreConfessions is the autobiography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Its often published with the title The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to distinguish it from Augustine of Hippos Confessions, the book from which Rousseau took the title. Covering the 1st 53 years of his life, up to 1765, it was completed in 1769, but unpublished until 1782, four years after his death--even tho he did read excerpts of his ms publicly at various salons & elsewhere.Confessions is in two parts of six books each. Rousseau alludes to a planned 3rd part. This was uncompleted. Tho the autobiography is flawed–-his dates are frequently off & some events arent in order–-he provides an account of the experiences that shaped his influential philosophy. For instance, the parts of his own education he liked best are present in of ideal education portrayal in Emile.Its one of the 1st major autobiographies. Prior, the two great ones were Augustines & St Teresas Life of Herself. Both of these works focused on religious experiences. The Confessions was one of the 1st autobiographies in which an individual wrote of life mainly in terms of worldly experiences & 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, & which, once complete, will have no imitator. My purpose is to display to my kind a portrait in every way true to nature, & the man I shall portray will be myself.Some scholars believe that his prediction was wide of the mark. Not long after publication many other writers (such as Goethe, Wordsworth & De Quincey) wrote their own similarly-styled autobiographies. However, Leo Damrosch argues that Rousseau meant that it would be impossible to imitate his book, as nobody else would be like Jean-Jacques Rousseau.Confessions is noted for its detailed account of Rousseaus more shameful humiliations. For instance, he recounts an incident when, while a servant, he covered up his theft of a ribbon by framing a young girl for the crime. In addition, he explains the manner in which disposed of his five illegitimate children, whom he had with a girl named Therese.Contemporaries, including Diderot & Voltaire, often slandered & framed Rousseau. He believed he made many friends because of his unique talents. He made contributions to music, writing operas, cantatas & tragedies. He refers to Diderot, the German Grimm, & others, as the Holbachian clique. Friendship with Diderot wavered frequently until he decided to break off relations with him because of his lack of character. In a letter in Confessions, he bluntly explains the only thing he admired in Voltaire was genius.