Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)
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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 the world 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 book vividly 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 despairs of putting into words: the personal quality of one's own existence.
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this work. For, while I was busy pursuing my connection with the Dupin household, Mme de Besenval and Mme de Broglie, whom I continued to see from time to time, had not forgotten me. The Comte de Montaigu,* a captain in the guards, had just been appointed ambassador to Venice, a post he owed to Barjac, whom he had courted assiduously. His brother, the Chevalier de Montaigu, gentleman-in-waiting to the dauphin, was acquainted with these two ladies, as well as with the Abbé Alary of the French
how this project was progressing, we extended our walk by a quarter of a league or so until we came to the reservoir of water for the park, which lies on the edge of the forest of Montmorency, and where there is a pretty vegetable garden and a dilapidated little cottage, known as the Hermitage. This remote and delightful spot had already impressed me when I saw it for the first time before my visit to Geneva. Transported, I had cried out, ‘Ah, Madame, what a delicious place to live! It’s a refuge
my lifetime. I wanted to be able to give to my subject, without constraint, everything that it demanded of me; confident that, since I was not of a satirical turn of mind and had no interest in seeking a practical application of my ideas, I would always, in all equity, be irreprehensible. I wanted, of course, to exercise fully the right to independent thought that was mine by birth, but at the same time to show respect for the government under which I was living, and never to disobey its laws;
more or less supported, was despoiling us with an ease that was equal to his effrontery, since none of the three of us had been vigilant enough to keep a proper check on things; he even managed, in a single night, to empty my cellar, which I found stripped bare the following morning. For as long as he confined his attentions to me, I suffered them in silence; but when I came to account for the fruit, I was obliged to denounce the thief. Mme d’Épinay asked me to pay him, dismiss him, and find
perform my piece. I explained to each of them the kind of tempo I wanted, the style of performance, and which sections were to be repeated. I was very busy. The five or six minutes that it took them to tune up seemed to me five or six centuries. When at last everyone was ready, I tapped five or six times with a fine roll of paper on the conductor’s desk to call them to attention. Silence fell. Solemnly I began to beat time, the piece began... and never since the first days of French opera, never