'No one can write a man's life except himself.'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 theworld 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 bookvividly 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 despairsof putting into words: the personal quality of one's own existence.
Along with St. Augustine, Rousseau was promoted to me as one of the pioneers of the genre of autobiography, warts and all, as another reviewer of this book has put it.
Perhaps a third individual could be added, and maybe should be added, to this group: Benvenuto Cellini. I also have that book and have started but not finished it yet. When that is all done, maybe I could compare all three together.
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 "Emile". 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.
I listened to the audio of this book and found it very interesting. I liked Rousseau's honesty and found him to be a very brilliant man. He had a very entertaining insight of human nature but I found him to be a bit bizarre at times. He was a truly fascinating person, and this classic work of autobiography and the Enlightenment period is not to be missed.