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Confessions (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – July 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0199540037 ISBN-10: 0199540039 Edition: Reissue

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (July 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199540039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540037
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Patrick Coleman, Professor of French, University of California, Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 29 customer reviews
I started reading excerpts from this book at our meetings.
Allan Brain
I understand why it is an important book, and it isn't always necessary to like the narrator in order to get something out of the reading experience.
frumiousb
Prior to the appearance of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's 'Confessions,' there existed very few real autobiographies.
Anyechka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 80 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Rousseau's Confessions had been on my book shelf for at least two years before I got motivated to read it. I had started it a few times, but never got beyond the first chapter. I read quite alot, though, and the Confessions seemed to pop up everywhere, in History, Philosophy, and especially in articles on influences in Literature. Flipping through it, it seemed dry and the passages boring and out-of date. But I told myself I must read it, if only to better understand the references that kept drawing from it.
Once I got past the first chapter, I found I simply could not put it down. Admittedly, I had the extra advantage of knowing alot about the period in history and the life of Rousseau himself, but that wasn't the magic of the book. It was Rousseau himself who seemed to come alive through the pages. The tortured honesty on every page which excited and shocked me kept me up late every night until I was finished. There were times I simply had to put the book down, catch my breath a little, and think, "Oh My God! I can't believe it!" After, I realized I had finished one of the best reading experiences of my life. It ranked right up there with "The Red and The Black", "Les Mis", "Crime and Punishment" and "Anna Karenina". This book will live through the ages, I had read a hundred times but dismissed it. I only hope you are more trustful than I.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on June 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
There are certain books that are cornerstones in your life. This is one of mine. A lot of the Romantic self-centerdness that marks my character can be traced directly back to this guy. But then again, whatever my expansive vision and love of variety and the vagaries of human nature can also be traced back to this cynical, but at the same time genial soul.
Rousseau, like Voltaire and Diderot, his contemporaries, could look upon his fellow man and himself with both a frown and a smile. He claims at the outset of the work that he is going to show you himself as he honestly is, warts and all. Don't believe him! But don't turn your back on him either, or dismiss him as a liar! You would be denying yourself the company of one of the most charming alluring reconteurs in all of literature, should you do so.
Monsieur Rousseau absolutely loves talking about himself. That sounds like a recipe for boredom, I know. But the trouble is, he's got such a fascinating subject. He knew everyone who was anyone in the 18th century. The women, in particular, were the actual movers and shakers of fin de siecle France. They were figures who presided over literary salons when there actually were literary salons. Madame de Stael is only one matron who looms large in the account. France was basically ruled by powerful and cunning women in that era. Rousseau was there, mentally recording every intimate bon mot and detail.
Then there is his infectious, expansive nature to win you over! Try as you might, self centered as the man is, you can't help liking the guy! He is the ultimate Romantic, in the best sense of the word. He believes in his soul that mankind is noble, that we were put here on earth to enact a divine plan for the benefit of all.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1996
Format: Paperback
I'm thrilled to see Amazon books' celebration of Rousseau's
birthday because his writings not only transformed
Enlightenment thought, but also prefigured the emergence of
Romanticism in the nineteenth century. But Rousseau's Confessions
is not just a work for historians. This work is stunning in
its honesty, even to a jaded twentieth-century reader. The
psychological insight is remarkable: As the narrative
progresses, Rousseau's suspicious nature moves into a
chilling paranoia, yet one cannot help but feel compassion
for such a brilliant and beleagered man. Even paranoids
have enemies, and Rousseau certainly had plenty, and his
Confessions provide an insiders view of the Enlightenment,
with all the rivalries and quarrels.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on August 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Autobiographies are inherently unreliable. We all want to gloss over the embarrassing or wrongful moments in our lives and present ourselves as engaging "packages" to our contemporaries and to posterity. In Jean-Jacques Rousseau's CONFESSIONS, we have an autobiographer who is willing to show you his life -- warts and all.

What strikes many contemporary readers as somewhat whack about Rousseau is that he gave several of his own children up for adoption, thinking they would be better cared for by a charitable institution than at home. Although he never "officially" tied the knot with Thérèse Levasseur in a religious or civil marriage, he was at the very least what we would today call her common law husband.

As with Montaigne in his essay "Of Experience," we are introduced to Rousseau's painful urinary problems. He had to catheterize himself frequently to be able to urinate at all; and toward the end of the book, he talks about adopting an Armenian garb because he could no longer comfortably wear trousers.

Even more painful than the physical was that Rousseau appeared to be a trusting person who tried to make friends, but was frequently betrayed by them. Some of the betrayers include such famous contemporaries of the author's as Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d'Alembert. It is possible that Rousseau had a strong streak of paranoia, as it is unlikely that so many of his ex-friends would form conspiracies against him.

Perhaps in no other book is there such stress laid on the perils of having to seek patronage rather than earning money on one's own merits. I know that, if I were living in 18th century France under the old régime, I, too, would have difficulties because of my own blunt personality.
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