In this second volume of the unparalleled exposition of Rousseau's life and works, Cranston completes and corrects the story told in Rousseau's "Confessions," and offers a vivid, entirely new history of his most eventful and productive years.
"Luckily for us, Maurice Cranston's "The Noble Savage: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1754-1762" has managed to craft a highly detailed account of eight key years of Rousseau's life in such a way that we can both understand and even, on occasion, sympathize."--Olivier Bernier, "Wall Street Journal"
Maurice Cranston (1920-1993), a distinguished scholar and recipient of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his biography of John Locke, was professor of political science at the London School of Economics. His numerous books include "The Romantic Movement" and "Philosophers and Pamphleteers," and translations of Rousseau's "The Social Contract" and "Discourse on the Origins of Inequality."
In this second of his projected three-volume biography of Rousseau (Jean. Jacques, 1983), Cranston (Political Science/London School of Economics) continues his dry and detailed reconstruction of Rousseau's life from primary sources. Here, Cranston starts with his subject's flight from Paris, covering his life as a guest on prosperous country estates, the completion of his most important work, and his escape from arrest for impiety and sedition. Rousseau's life, as Cranston shows, illustrates the Frenchman's own thesis - that "Man is born free but is everywhere in chains" - as Rousseau himself was imprisoned by the contradictions in his own personality. In Julie, or the New Heloise, Rousseau explored his fantasies of virtuous love, while he repeatedly betrayed his lifelong mistress and engaged in petty flirtations with married women. Self-educated and a writer, Rousseau, in Emile, advocated a system of education that denigrated books, and he idealized both the tutor and the child although he abandoned his own five children in a Paris orphanage. And, even while enjoying the patronage of an aristocratic family in his own little chateau, he wrote the Social Contract, attributing all social evils to the privilege he was enjoying. For all his high-mindedness, Rousseau, Cranston demonstrates, was the "noble savage," quarrelsome, ill-mannered, suspicious, tyrannical, jealous, "devoured" by the need to love and be loved, contemptuous of his patron's courtesies but easily offended and complaining if they neglected him. While Cranston's method may indeed "break the chain of books based on books," his restricting himself to primary sources, avoiding interpretation or analysis of style, psyche, milieu, even historical and social context, severely limits the value of this biography, however illuminating his analysis of the writings. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 414
Published: 1st January 1991
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.0
Weight (kg): 0.6
Edition Number: 2
Edition Type: New edition