Dr. Johnson may have been correct in saying that “Rousseau was a very bad man,” but none can argue that his ideas are among the most influential in all of world history. It was Rousseau, the father of the romantic movement, who was responsible for introducing at least two modern day thoughts that pervade academia: (1) free expression of the creative spirit is more important than strict adhesion to formal rules and traditional procedures, and (2) man is innately good but is corrupted by society and civilization.
The Confessions is Rousseau’s landmark autobiography. Both brilliant and flawed, it is nonetheless beautifully written and remains one of the most moving human documents in all of literature. In this work, Rousseau “frankly and sincerely” settles accounts with himself in an effort to project his “true” image to the world. In so doing he reveals the details of a man who paid little regard to accepted morality and social conventions.
Public Domain (P)1995 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Davidson’s articulate and lightly vocalized rendering is an invaluable help to the listener…. This audio may be savored over time, and is well worth the effort. Davidson’s cultured, ironic tone meshes well with Rousseau canny genius.” (Kliatt)
My own confession is that when I started to listen to "Confessions" I knew very little of Rousseau and his works. I chose it simply because I was told he wrote it in Paris in 1770 (although I am yet to confirm whether this "fact" is indeed correct). As I am planning my first trip to Paris next year, for a memoir writing course, I was looking for inspiration from the father of the modern memoir.
I loved listening to this book, the early part of his life at least, because I am only now just wading into the second half which is, by Rousseau's own account, much more melancholy than the first.
The arrogant, haughty voice of the narrator adds to the formality and air of self importance with which Rousseau undertook his requirement to write his "Confessions" and compliments the book perfectly. In fact, I found myself smiling broadly through the majority as he regales tales of his youth and his romantic perceptions of such. I particularly enjoyed the ordinariness of his life, his insecurities and his character flaws. It has a "real" quality that is refreshing to encounter in our world where entertainment particularly is often, in my opinion, overdramatized, over produced and over stylized.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book thus far.
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