Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 566 pages
The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau burst unexpectedly onto the eighteenth-century literary scene as a provocateur whose works electrified readers. An autodidact who had not written anything of significance by age thirty, Rousseau seemed an unlikely candidate to become one of the most influential thinkers in history. Yet the power of his ideas is felt to this day in our political and social lives.

In a masterly and definitive biography, Leo Damrosch traces the extraordinary life of Rousseau with novelistic verve. He presents Rousseau's books -- The Social Contract, one of the greatest works on political theory; Emile, a groundbreaking treatise on education; and the Confessions, which created the genre of introspective autobiography -- as works uncannily alive and provocative even today. Jean-Jacques Rousseau offers a vivid portrait of the visionary’s tumultuous life.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - asukamaxwell - LibraryThing

Excellent biographical style, haven't read a biography this, well, "readable" since Dumas Malone's Thomas Jefferson. Sadly though, despite the great efforts by the author, Rousseau as a person just is ... Read full review

JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU: Restless Genius

User Review  - Kirkus

Thoroughgoing life of the often disagreeable, uncharismatic and world-transformative philosopher, he of "Mankind is born free and is everywhere in chains" renown.The French edition of Jean-Jacques ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

The Loneliness of a Gifted Child
7
The End of Innocence
25
I Desired a Happiness of Which I Had No Idea
43
Rousseau Finds a Mother
69
A Year of Wandering
88
In Mamans House
104
The Idyll of Les Charmettes
125
Broadening Horizons Lyon and Paris
149
An Affair of the Heart
256
The Break with the Enlightenment
284
Peace at Last and the Triumph of Julie
306
Rousseau the Controversialist Émile and The Social Contract
331
Exile in the Mountains
362
Another Expulsion
388
In a Strange Land
403
The Past Relived
434

The Masks of Venice
168
A Life Partner and a Guilty Secret
184
A Writers Apprenticeship
196
The Beginnings of Fame
211
Rousseaus Originality
234
Lionized in Geneva Alienated in Paris
244
Into the SelfMade Labyrinth
447
The Final Years in Paris
464
Timeline of Rousseaus Life
495
Notes
499
Index
550
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About the author (2007)

LEO DAMROSCH was awarded the National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships, among other honors. Currently the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of literature at Harvard University, he has written widely on eighteenth-century writers. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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