Synopses & Reviews
A new English translation, the first to be based on the definitive French Pleiade edition.
In one of the first attempts at autobiography, Rousseau's Confessions not only retells the facts of the author's life, but reveals his innermost feelings and details the strengths and weaknesses of his character. Much more than a "behind-the-scenes look at the private life of a public man", Christopher Kelly writes, "the Confessions is at the center of Rousseau's philosophical enterprise".
"An English translation of the French classic has to bear comparison with J. M. Cohen's Penguia Classics version of 1953. Kelly passes that test with flying colors ... This will certainly endure as the work of reference in English". -- Eugen Weber, Civilization
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 Pleiade 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.