The Confessions and Correspondence, Including the Letters to Malesherbes (Collected Writings of Rousseau, Volume 5)

The Confessions and Correspondence, Including the Letters to Malesherbes (Collected Writings of Rousseau, Volume 5)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Language: English

Pages: 739


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Christopher Kelly, Roger D. Masters, Peter G. Stillman (eds.)
Christopher Kelly (tr.)

When Rousseau first read his Confessions to a 1770 gathering in Paris, reactions varied from admiration of his candor to doubts about his sanity to outrage. Indeed, Rousseau's intent and approach were revolutionary. As one of the first attempts at autobiography, the Confessions' novelty lay not in just its retelling the facts of Rousseau's life, but in its revelation of his innermost feelings and its frank description of the strengths and failings of his character.

Based on his doctrine of natural goodness, Rousseau intended the Confessions as a testing ground to explore his belief that, as Christopher Kelly writes, "people are to be measured by the depth and nature of their feelings." Re-created here in a meticulously documented new translation based on the definitive Pléiade edition, the work represents Rousseau's attempt to forge connections among his beliefs, his feelings, and his life. More than a "behind-the-scenes look at the private life of a public man," Kelly writes, "the Confessions is at the center of Rousseau's philosophical enterprise."

From Library Journal
Kelly's careful translation, based on the latest French critical edition, seems likely to become the standard English version of the Confessions. In his helpful introductory essay, Kelly claims that Rousseau's work has more than biographical importance. Rousseau's portrayal of events in his life often illuminates themes in his political philosophy. His elaborate accounts of conspiracies against him, by Friedrich Melchior Baron von Grimm and others, help to explain his doctrines of natural goodness and virtue. Because Kelly believes that Rousseau wrote the Confessions with extraordinary care, he has paid attention in his translation even to such minor details as variant spellings of persons and place names. This edition includes several letters from Rousseau to Chretien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes and supplies helpful explanatory notes. Highly recommended.?David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., Ohio

"Enhanced by revealing slices of the correspondence . . . an exemplary introduction and notes . . . An English translation of the French classic has to bear comparison with J. M. Cohen's Penguin Classics version of 1953. Kelley passes that test with flying colors . . . Kelly's will certainly endure as the work of reference in English, as Bernard Gagnebin's Pléiade edition of 1959 provides the basic reference in French." —Civilization

















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