Tuesday, August 7, 2012

46. Confessions

Jean Jacques Rousseau
Around 480 pages

Well, this is, at last, the end of Rousseau.  I cannot honestly say I am sad to see him go, though he did have some great insight.  This last work was an autobiography.  I usually avoid autobiographies like the plague.  I really don't care about a famous person's childhood.  Just show me what you did to be remarkable and then kindly shut up.  However, because of this list, we are forced to journey all the way back to the day Rousseau was born.

In my opinion, this book is only motivated by guilt.  He felt like he had to confess random things he did that he always regretted, including framing a servant for a ribbon he himself sold.  Well, I hope this helped alleviate his guilt.  However, I really don't give a damn.  I expected to at least be introduced to some new philosophical ideas he might have had.  But I was disappointed.  He simply talked and talked about his apprenticeship, his female amours, and his regrets.  In truth, I felt trapped and alarmed, like you would if someone you didn't know that well burst into tears and it was up to you to comfort them.  A tedious task, and one that should be avoided.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

You can actually see how hypocritical he is from this book; though he claims he would be the perfect father in Emile, he abandoned five of his children to an orphanage.

Frequently inaccurate (wrong dates, different order of events, etc.).

One of the first autobiographies to be about feelings and events; most were about people's religious experiences.

The quote "let them eat cake" was found in this book, though it is frequently attributed to Marie Antoinette.


  1. I admire the fact that you are still working your way through this list. I would not have the fortitude to keep going. You have such great understanding of all the books too! Bravo!

  2. Add to this his frequent paranoia and hypochondria and you really start getting tired.
    Still occasionally he is actually funny. That is a first for Rousseau.