JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU TRANSLATED BY BARBARA FOXLEY --1911 -- INTRODUCTION mile in the Liie of Rousseau I mile was written between 1757 and 1760, partly at the Hermitage and partly et the ChLteau de Montmorency both at that time country places among the hills north of Paris, where the author found a welcome when he decided to retire from the contemporary scene. The work was publishedin 1762, the fiftieth anniversary of Rousseaus birth. He came to Paris in 1742 at the age of thirty, after an adventurous youth, and spent almost ten years in a vain search for renown ae playwright and musicaloomposer. But after 1750 his reputation was established by two treatises, Sur les sciences et lea arts and Sur Zin galitk which expounded his fundamental thesis the natural goodness of mm ancl the social origin of evil. Although French society at that period was in love with itself and its own culture, it hastened nevertheless to hail its indictor. Rousseau, however, far from profiting by his advent to fame, aspired to practise what he preached and it was in a spirit of genuine renunciation that he withdrew to the Hermitage in 1756, hoping to rediscover in solitude the Natural Man. Those years of retirement were among the most fruitful of his creative life they saw the birth, immediately before Bmile, of La NouvelZe Hkloise and Le Contrat social. HCloise marks the summit of Rousseaus reputation. The success of Bmile was very nearly as great, but it recoiled on its author and turned his retirement into exile. The fact was that his religious thought, aa delineated in the fourth book of the Profession de Poi du Vicaire savoyard, caused the powers that be to intervene the book was banned and consigned to the flames, a warrant was issued for the authors arrest, and he was obliged to flee. For the next eight years Rousseau led the life of a fugitive. The target of bitter animosity on the part of both officialdom and of numerous private enemies, animosity whose effects on him were aggravated by growing persecution-mania, he was hounded from pillar to post through Switzerland and France, and eventually took refuge in England for a few months in 1766. It was during these years of suffering, between 1765 and 1770, that he wrote his Confessions. He returned to Paris in the latter year, and once more found peace of mind. Here he lived for the next eight years in poverty and virtual seclusion, absorbed in the composition of his Rtveries du pmneur solitaire, until death overtook him on 2nd July 1778 at the ChLteau dErmenonviUe, where he was enjoying the hospitality of an admirer. V Introduction gmik in Rousseaus Thought Rousseaua work, in which philosophical speculation is closely interwoven with visionary dreams, is remarkably coherent despite its many contradictions. It flows entirely from the propositions enunciated in his first treatise on the goodness of nature and the corn ting influence of society, propositions which are summed up in a cele rated passage at the beginning of En le God makes all things good man meddles with them and they become evil. Indeed, the rehabilitation of Nature was the constant theme of an age in revolt against the Christian doctrine of original sin and the Fall. Other thinkers at that period generally saw in society and its culture the strongest evidence of natural goodness and of the progress it waa destined to achieve...
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October 25, 2007
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