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Rousseau's Dog: Two Great Thinkers at War in the Age of Enlightenment First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Sprightly and accessible . . . David Edmonds and John Eidinow have heightened intellectual feuds beyond the shallows of anecdote.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“As we’ve come to expect from Edmunds and Eidinow, their analysis of the personalities in question is sharp and engaging.” (Los Angeles Times)
“An enthralling account of a trifling provocation inflated to epic proportions.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Top Customer Reviews
When Rousseau was being driven from one place to another on the continent because of the authorities there objected to his writings, David Hume, then serving at the British Embassy in Paris, had invited Rousseau to seek asylum in England, had brought him over in 1766, and intended to help him there in any way he could. Unfortunately Rousseau was by that time a florid paranoiac. Both in France and in England woundingly satirical but anonymous writings were circulating about him, and Rousseau suspected that the kindly Hume had had a hand in them and was plotting with his enemies against him.Read more ›
The book describes in great detail the infamous personal conflict between David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As you can expect now from David Edmonds and John Eidinow, there is much more: not only the portraits of both protagonists are colorful and compelling, but the conflict itself serves as a central theme for a vivid account of the very interesting time in European history. The authors used letters and newspaper articles of the time to re-create an engaging picture of the cultural atmosphere in Europe in 1760's. One of the most intriguing discoveries for me was the fact that, on a human level, we may understand a lot more about XVIII century than about our time because in the past people regularly wrote letters discussing not only the events of the day, but their feelings. Unfortunately, we have lost the sense of importance of our lives (funny as it is, but Jean-Jacques, this great trivializer, may be the one to blame for it).
Rousseau's Dog is well-edited and carefully published. At the end of the book you find Chronology of Main Events, Dramatis Personae (a paragraph-long description of about fifty main characters and historical figures mentioned in the text), Selected Bibliography, and Index. Rousseau's Dog is not for everyone, but if you are interested in history of ideas and amused by psychological investigations, this is a book for you.
Edmonds and Eidinow have done a great job of spinning Hume's kindness into something quite the opposite, but even they admit:
1) Hume, having never met Rousseau, agrees to help Rousseau seek asylum in Britain (as Rousseau had warrants out for his arrest in France, Geneva, and Bern).
2) Hume tries to find accommodations for the picky Rousseau; eventually, a friend of Hume's provides a home for Rousseau that meets all of Rousseau's requirements.
3) Hume tries to get Rousseau an income from the King of England.
4) Rousseau, after safely in England, falsely accuses Hume, his benefactor, of plotting against him. This accusation is without any real evidence of any kind. Hume, understandably, is surprised and upset that his kindness has met with such a reaction.
5) Hume still wants his friend to provide a home for Rousseau, even though Rousseau has been monumentally ungrateful and unjust to Hume.
6) Hume still tries to get an income for Rousseau from the King of England.
7) When Rousseau departs from the safety of England, Hume tries to have mutual friends and acquaintances in France protect Rousseau from arrest.
Notice, 5, 6, and 7 all occur AFTER Rousseau's unjust and unprovoked attack on Hume, and Hume still was trying to help the ungrateful and unjust Rousseau. Many lesser men would have washed their hands of the ungrateful swine, and done nothing for him ever after, but not the kindly Hume.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first started reading this book several years ago and I quit it after about 50 pages. I attributed it to the fact that I wasn't familiar with the time period, I was reading it... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Igor Faynshteyn
This story has a moral that will be true for all time: you bring a madman into your house at your own peril.Published on November 27, 2013 by R A Cooper
Pretty mediocre book restating well known facts regarding Rousseau's split with David Hume...I expected more! Well, if Amazon asks me for five more words, here they are!Published on November 7, 2013 by Dr. Michael J. Storek
ROUSSEAU'S DOG: Two Great Thinkers at War in the Age of Enlightenment (a Harper Perennial paperback)
Lord, will the madness never stop? Now this! Read more
The "research" for this book appears to come almost exclusively from Mossner's excellent biography of Hume written in the 1950's. Read morePublished on June 1, 2013 by Adrian Heathcote
I was disappointed with Rousseau's Dog, not because it largely ignored the philosophies made famous by the two gentlemen at the heart of the story - Jean-Jaques Rousseau and David... Read morePublished on October 9, 2011 by Timothy McNeil
Is there in all the world a sillier spectacle than that of two intellectuals in a public dogfight? Any reader of academic journals must be familiar with that kind of thing, but the... Read morePublished on May 20, 2009 by DAVID BRYSON
First, a note or two about some other comments about this book as philosophy or not.
Edmonds and Eidenow don't make that claim, any blurbs aside. Read more