A monumental achievement, Maurice Cranston's trilogy provides the definitive account of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's turbulent life. Now available in paperback, this final volume completes a masterful biography of one of the most important philosophers of all time. "The Solitary Self "traces the last tempestuous years of Rousseau's life.
""The Solitary Self" is a fitting coda to a magisterial work. Cranston . . . is a compelling stylist who narrates Rousseau's tribulations with a mixture of compassion and dry humor."--Thomas Pavel, "Wall Street Journal"
"Cranston not only recreates for his readers a rounded view of Rousseau himself, he sets it firmly in the social and political context of Europe's "ancien regime." . . . An engrossing work of history."--John Gray, "New Statesman"
"Cranston's painstaking archival research and lucid style yield the most detailed and thoroughly documented biography of Rousseau written in English. His epilogue masterfully sums up Rousseau's importance as political philosopher and initiator of romantic sensibilities."--"Choice"
"Anyone curious about the paradoxes of a most paradoxical man will not go wrong by starting with this invaluable biography."--James Miller, "Washington Post Book World"
"As absorbing as a picaresque novel."--Naomi Bliven, "New Yorker"
"A monument of scholarship. . . . This amazing biography, like Boswell's account of Johnson, recreates the daily life of Rousseau: what he did, who he saw, what he said, what he wrote. . . . We may be quite confident that we hold in our hands the authoritative account of this life. The definitive Rousseau."--Isaac Kramnick, "New Republic"
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."
Cranston concludes his three-volume biography of Rousseau (Jean Jacques: The Early Life and Work, 1983; The Noble Savage, 1991) with a dispassionate chronicle of the philosopher's bitter last years - a period of exile, persecution, and paranoia. Cranston died just before finishing the biography; his colleague Sanford Lakoff (Univ. of Calif.) has added a final chapter using Cranston's notes and the text of a lecture, adding a useful epilogue distilled from Cranston's previous books on Rousseau's thought. Cranston ended The Noble Savage with Rousseau's transformation from "literary celebrity to cult figure" after the publication of The Social Contract, and Julie, ou la Nouvelle Heloise. Infamy closely followed fame: When friends tied to have his novel Emile published in Paris, it was condemned, publicly burned, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was forced into uncertain wanderings, which Cranston conscientiously tracks. Staying above Rousseau's emotional perspective, Cranston traces his increasingly heated dealings with his publisher and his feuds with the group of Paris philosophes dominated by Voltaire. Rousseau was thrown out of the Swiss canton of Neuchatel, where he had found asylum, after Letters from the Mountains, a work highly critical of the Swiss, was published. He traveled to Bern, had a romantic interlude on the isle of Saint-Pierre, then had to flee again. He accepted David Hume's offer of asylum in England. Cranston gives an admirably impartial account of the stormy relationship of this philosophical odd couple, though he gives scant attention to the composition of the Confessions, which occurred roughly simultaneously. He is, however, always meticulously objective in tracing Rousseau's franctic actions and complex, contradictory character. A sober, concise chaser to the intoxicating Confessions (though more a starting point than the last word on that work) and a muted, though moving, conclusion to a remarkable work of scholarship and sympathy. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Exile and Adversity
Number Of Pages: 264
Published: 1st January 1997
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.0
Weight (kg): 0.34
Edition Type: New edition