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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.
with us.’ I thought that a display of pride would be sheer foolishness and stayed. Moreover, I was touched by Mme de Broglie’s kindness, and felt attracted towards her. I was very glad to be dining with her, and I hoped that when she knew me better she would not be sorry she had procured me that honour. President Lamoignon, a great friend of the family, was dining there also. Both he and Mme de Broglie talked the fashionable Paris jargon, full of diminutives and subtle little allusions, which
will continue to be. Whilst thinking that he was working for his contemporaries he was in fact labouring for creatures of his imagination. All this considered, I was in some doubt as to what form I was to give to my work. If I were to allow my author his visions I should be doing no useful service. Were I to refute them vigorously I should be acting dishonourably because my possession of the manuscripts, which I had accepted and even asked for, put me under the obligation of treating the author
d’Épinay, of M. de Lalive, and of M. de La Briche, who have since both been made ambassadorial attachés.* I have spoken of my acquaintance with her when she was a girl. Since her marriage I had only seen her at the parties at La Chevrette and at her sister-in-law’s, Mme d’Épinay. Having often spent several days in her company, at La Chevrette or at Épinay, not only did I always find her very pleasant, but she seemed also well disposed towards me. She was rather fond of taking walks with me; we
I was, and we took long strolls through that enchanted country. Content to love her and with my courage in declaring my love, I should have been in the most delightful situation if my extravagance had not destroyed all its charm. At first she could not in the least understand the silly pettishness with which I received her kindnesses. But since my heart is incapable of ever concealing its emotions, it did not leave her long in ignorance of my suspicions. She tried to laugh them off, but this
de Luxembourg, even when I was most concerned to preserve her goodwill. The disasters which overtook M. de Luxembourg in quick succession only served to strengthen my attachment to him, and therefore to Mme de Luxembourg. For they have always seemed to me so genuinely united that any feelings one had for the one necessarily extended to the other. The Marshal was growing old. His constant attendance at Court and the duties entailed, the continual hunts, and, even more, the fatigues of his three