Book Notes: "Jean-Jacques Rousseau" by Leo Damrosch

Jean-Jacques RousseauJean-Jacques Rousseau by Leo Damrosch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is difficult to review this book without wanting to critique Rousseau rather than the biographer. I was so annoyed by Rousseau's life, as opposed to my reaction to his obvious genius in Reveries of a Solitary Walker, that I must admit to thinking that the book was rather bad. However, time seemed to speed up towards the end of Rousseau's story, and the biographer redeemed himself despite not having done anything poorly in the first place. In the latter parts of the book, the comparison with Benjamin Franklin is exceptional and puts into chronological perspective the Old and New Worlds. I must now read the Confessions and compare it to Franklin's Autobiography to make sense out of this account of Rousseau's life. I must admit to expecting more of the man, but he did not create the posthumous legend and cannot be blamed anymore than the biographer can be blamed for Rousseau's habits that had me annoyed to such an extent that it took me close to two years to finish the book.

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