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 Pléiade 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."
The acclaimed series The Collected Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau concludes with a volume centering on Emile (1762), which Rousseau called his “greatest and best book.” Here Rousseau enters into critical engagement with thinkers such as Locke and Plato, giving his most comprehensive account of the relation between happiness and citizenship, teachers and students, and men and women. In this volume Christopher Kelly presents Allan Bloom’s translation, newly edited and cross-referenced to match the series. The volume also contains the first-ever translation of the first draft of Emile, the “Favre Manuscript,” and a new translation of Emile and Sophie, or the Solitaries. The Collected Writings of Rousseau Roger D. Masters and Christopher Kelly, series editors 1. Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques: Dialogues 2. Discourse on the Sciences and Arts (First Discourse) and Polemics 3. Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (Second Discourse) Polemics, and Political Economy 4. Social Contract, Discourse on the Virtue Most Necessary for a Hero, Political Fragments, and Geneva Manuscript 5. The Confessions and Correspondence, Including the Letters to Malesherbes 6. Julie, or the New Heloise: Letters of Two Lovers Who Live in a Small Town at the Foot of the Alps 7. Essay on the Origin of Languages and Writings Related to Music 8. The Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Botanical Writings, and Letter to Franquières 9. Letter to Beaumont, Letters Written from the Mountain 10. Letter to D’Alembert and Writings for the Theater 11. The Plan for Perpetual Peace, On the Government of Poland, and Other Writings on History and Politics 12. Autobiographical, Scientific, Religious, Moral, and Literary Writings 13. Emile or On Education (Includes Emile and Sophie; or The Solitaries)
Considering canonical and lesser-known works by authors that include Rousseau, Sade, Bastide, Laclos, Crébillon fils, and the writers of two widely read libertine novels, Paul Young suggests that narratives of seduction function as a master plot for eighteenth-century French literature. How authors reacted to a cultural discourse that coded literature and solitary reading as dangerous, seductive practices sheds light on the history of authorship, especially the development of the novel.
If the greatness of a philosophical work can be measured by the volume and vehemence of the public response, there is little question that Rousseau's Social Contract stands out as a masterpiece. Within a week of its publication in 1762 it was banished from France. Soon thereafter, Rousseau fled to Geneva, where he saw the book burned in public. At the same time, many of his contemporaries, such as Kant, considered Rousseau to be 'the Newton of the moral world', as he was the first philosopher to draw attention to the basic dignity of human nature. The Social Contract has never ceased to be read and debated in the 250 years since its publication. Rousseau's Social Contract: An Introduction offers a thorough and systematic tour of this notoriously paradoxical and challenging text. David Lay Williams offers readers a chapter-by-chapter reading of the Social Contract, squarely confronting these interpretive obstacles. The book also features a special extended appendix dedicated to outlining Rousseau's famous conception of the general will, which has been the object of controversy since the Social Contract's publication in 1762.