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By Jean-Jacques Rousseau / Privately Printed / 1896
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The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is Rousseau’s autobiography. Covering the first 53 years of his life, the book was not published until after his death. Rousseau’s Confessions is generally regarded as the first modern autobiography. Volume two contains books VII through XII.
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) was born in Geneva to a middle class Protestant family. In 1728, Rousseau moved to Annecy, in France. While there, Rousseau converted to Roman Catholicism at the encouragement of Louise de Warens. In recanting his Calvinism, Rousseau was also giving up his Genevan citizenship. Rousseau moved to Paris in 1742 and developed relationships with the Enlightenment philosophes Diderot and Condillac. Rousseau contributed an article on music to Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedie. He left Paris for three years to serve at the French Embassy in Venice. When he returned to Paris, he met his future wife, Therese Levasseur, with whom he had five children (all of whom were left at the orphanage). Rousseau eventually left Paris, lived for a time in the French countryside, moved in with the Duke of Luxemburg, and eventually returned to Switzerland. At the invitation of David Hume, Rousseau went to England. After a falling out with Hume, Rousseau returned to France, where he spent the rest of his life. In addition to his works of philosophy, Rousseau wrote seven operas, an autobiography, and a work of fiction. He is credited as one of the first thinkers of the Romantic movement.