Rousseau’s “Confession” in Brief Content

Rousseau’s “Confession” in Brief Content

“I told the truth.” If anyone knows anything contrary to what has been said here, he knows only lies and slander. “

His first misfortune, the author of these lines, calls his own birth, which cost his mother’s life. The child grows, showing the shortcomings inherent in his age; “I was a chatterbox, gourmet, a liar sometimes,” admits Jean-Jacques. Since childhood, separated from his father, he falls under the care of his uncle, and he gives it to the teaching. From the punishment of the mentor in the eight-year-old boy, early sensuality awakens, leaving an imprint on all his subsequent relationships with the beautiful sex. “All my life I longed and I did not speak to the women I loved most,” the author writes, making “the first

and most painful step in the dark and dirty labyrinth” of his confessions.

The teenager is given as a pupil to the engraver; at this time he first discovered a craving for theft. “In fact, these thefts were very innocent, since everything I was dragging from the owner was used by me to work for him,” Jean-Jacques says. Simultaneously with pernicious habits, a passion for reading awakens in him, and he reads everything. At the age of sixteen, Jean-Jacques is a young man “restless, dissatisfied with everything and with himself, without disposition to his craft.”

Suddenly the young man throws everything and goes to wander. Fate brings him to the charming twenty-eight-year-old Madame de Varence, between them a relationship is established that largely determined the life of Jean-Jacques. Madame de Varence convinces the young man to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, and he goes to Turin, in a haven for new converts. Having escaped from the rite to freedom, he leads a carefree life, walks around the city and its environs and falls in love with all pretty women. “Never before have passions been so strong and as pure as mine, never was love more tender, more disinterested,” he recalls. When he runs out of money, he acts as a lackey to a certain countess. In the service of her, Jean-Jacques

commits a misdemeanor, which he then regrets all his life: taking from the hostess a silver ribbon, he blames the young maid for this theft. The girl is kicked out, her reputation is irreparably corrupted. The desire to finally admit this sin is one of the reasons that prompted him to write a true confession. Hostess Jean-Jacques dies; the young man acts as a secretary in a rich family. He learns a lot and diligently, and the path of further promotion opens before him. However, the craving for vagrancy overpowers, and he goes back to Switzerland. Having reached his native lands, he is to Madame de Varence. She gladly accepts him, and he settles in her house. Madame de Varance builds it in the singing school, where he thoroughly engages in music. But the first concert, which the young Jean-Jacques dares to give, fails miserably. Of course, no one even suspects that time will pass, and the works of today’s loser will be performed in the presence of the king, and all the courtiers will sigh and say: “Oh, what a magical music!” Meanwhile, the frustrated Jean-Jacques again starts to wander.

Returning to “Mom,” as he calls Madame de Varence, Jean-Jacques continues his music studies. At this time, his final rapprochement with Madame de Varence takes place. Their close relationship encourages this elderly woman to engage in secular education of the young man. But all that she does for him in this direction, in his own words, is “lost work”.

Unexpectedly, the manager of Madame de Varance dies, and Jean-Jacques tries unsuccessfully to fulfill his duties. Overpowered by good intentions, he begins to withhold money from Madame de Varance. However, to his shame, these caches are almost always found. Finally, he decides to start working, to provide “mom” with a piece of bread. Of all the possible activities, he chooses music, and first takes money from Mrs. de Varence to travel to Paris with the goal of improving her skills. But life in Paris is not asked, and, returning to Madame de Varence, Jean-Jacques is seriously ill. After recovery, they, together with the “mother” leave for the village. “Here begins a short time of happiness in my life, here come to me a peaceful, but fleeting minutes, giving me the right to say that I lived,” – the author writes. Rural work alternates with persistent occupations – history, geography, Latin. But in spite of his thirst for knowledge, Jean-Jacques gets sick again – now from a settled life. At the insistence of Madame de Varence, he goes to the treatment in Montpellier, and on the way becomes the lover of his random companion…

On his return, Jean-Jacques discovers that he has been ousted from the heart of Madame de Varence “with a high, colorless blonde” with the manners of the boastful handsome man. Confused and embarrassed, Jean-Jacques concedes his place with Madame de Varence with pain in his heart and from that moment looks at “his dear mother only with the eyes of a real son.” Very quickly the newcomer settles life in the house of Madame de Varence in her own way. Feeling out of place, Jean-Jacques goes to Lyon and is employed by a tutor.

In the fall of 1715 he comes to Paris “with 15 louis in his pocket, comedy” Narcissus “and a musical project as a means of subsistence.” Unexpectedly, the young man is offered the position of secretary of the embassy in Venice, he agrees and leaves France. In a new place he likes everything – both the city and the work. But the ambassador, unable to reconcile himself with the plebeian origin of the secretary, begins to survive him and finally achieves his goal. Returning to Paris, Jean-Jacques tries to get justice, but he is told that his quarrel with the ambassador is a private matter, for he is only a secretary, and besides not a subject of France.

Realizing that justice can not be achieved, Rousseau settles in a quiet hotel and is working on completing the opera. At this time, he finds “the only real consolation”: he meets Teresa Levasseur. “The resemblance of our hearts, the conformity of our characters, soon led to the usual result: she decided that she had found a decent person in me, and I did not make a mistake.” I decided that I found in her a heartfelt girl, simple, without coquetry, and I was not mistaken either. told her that I would never abandon her, but I would not marry her either. “Love, respect, sincere frankness were the creators of my celebration,” Jean-Jacques describes his meeting with the girl who became his faithful and devoted friend.

Theresa is kind, intelligent, intelligent, has common sense, but is amazingly ignorant. All attempts by Jean-Jacques to develop her mind fail: the girl did not even learn to determine the time by the hour. Nevertheless, its society Jean-Jacques is quite sufficient; not being distracted by vain business, he works hard, and soon the opera is ready. But to promote it on the stage, it is necessary to have the talents of a court intriguer, and they do not have Jean-Jacques, and he again suffers a fiasco in the musical field.

Life demands its own: now it is obliged to provide food not only to itself, but also to Teresa, and at the same time to her numerous relatives, led by a greedy mother, who is accustomed to living at the expense of her eldest daughter. For the sake of earnings, Jean-Jacques goes to the secretaries to a distinguished nobleman and for a time leaves Paris. Returning, he discovers that Teresa is pregnant. From the conversations of the companions for the table d’hote, Jean-Jacques discovers that in France unwanted babies are taken to an educational facility; deciding to follow the customs of this country, he persuades Teresa to give the baby. The next year, history repeats itself, and so on as many as five times. Theresa “obeyed, bitterly sighing.” Jean-Jacques sincerely believes that “he chose the best for his children or what he considered to be so.” However, the author “promised to write a confession, not self-justification.”

Jean-Jacques closely converges with Diderot. Like Jean-Jacques, Diderot has “his own Nanette”, the only difference is that Therese is meek and kind, and Nanette is quarrelsome and spiteful.

Learning that the Dijon Academy announced a competition on the topic “Did the development of the sciences and arts damage or purify morals?”, Jean-Jacques enthusiastically takes up his pen. Ready work, he shows Diderot and receives his sincere approval. Soon the work is published, around it rises noise, Jean-Jacques becomes fashionable. But his reluctance to find a patron is gaining his reputation as an eccentric. “I was the person I was looking for, and on the next day I did not find anything new in it,” he notes bitterly.

The need for constant earnings and shaky health prevent him from writing. Nevertheless, he achieves the production of his opera “Village sorcerer”, at the premiere of which there is a courtyard led by the king. The King likes the opera, and, wanting to reward the author, appoints him an audience. But Jean-Jacques, wanting to preserve his independence, refuses to meet with the king and, consequently, from the royal pension. His action causes general condemnation. Even Diderot, approving in principle an indifferent attitude to the king, does not consider it possible to give up pension. The views of Jean-Jacques and Diderot diverge further and further.

Soon Dijon Academy announces a new topic: “On the origin of inequality among people,” and Jean-Jacques again passionately takes up his pen. Over the freedom-loving author, political clouds begin to thicken, he leaves Paris and travels to Switzerland. There he is honored as a champion of freedom. He meets with “Mom”: she has become impoverished and has descended. Jean-Jacques understands that his duty is to take care of her, but admits with shame that a new affection has driven Madame de Varance out of his heart. Arriving in Geneva, Jean-Jacques returns to the fold of the Protestant church and again becomes a full citizen of his native city.

Returning to Paris, Jean-Jacques continues to earn his living by correspondence of notes, for he can not write for money – “it is too difficult to think nobly when you think to live.” After giving his compositions to the public, he is sure that he is doing it for the common good. In 1756 Jean-Jacques left Paris and settles in the Hermitage. “The changes in me began as soon as I left Paris, as soon as I got rid of the spectacle of the vices of this great city, which caused my indignation,” he declares.

In the midst of the village dreams of Jean-Jacques, Udeto, and in his heart flashes love – “the first and only.” “This time it was love – love in all its power and in all its frenzy.” Jean-Jacques accompanies the lady d? Udeo on walks, ready to faint from her tender kisses, but their relationship does not cross the boundaries of a gentle friendship. Mistress d? Udeto served as a prototype for Julia from the “New Eloise”. The novel was a resounding success, and the author even corrected his financial affairs.

Forced to leave the Hermitage, Jean-Jacques moves to Montmorency, where he begins to write “Emily.” He also continues to work on the “Political Regulations”; the result of this hard work is the famous “Social Contract”. Many aristocrats are beginning to seek the location of Jean-Jacques: Prince de Conti, the Duchess of Luxembourg… But “I did not want to be sent to the pantry, and I trebled the table of nobles little.” I would prefer that they leave me alone, not humiliating, “- says the philosopher.

After the publication of the “Public Contract” Jean-Jacques feels how the number of his enemies – secret and obvious – increases dramatically, and he leaves for Geneva. But even there he does not have peace: the book was burned, and he himself is threatened with arrest. The whole of Europe brings down its curses upon it, as soon as it is not called: “possessed, demoniac, predatory beast, wolf” … Theresa voluntarily shares the fate of an freedom-loving exile.

In the end, Jean-Jacques settles on the island of Saint-Pierre, located in the middle of Bienne Lake. “In a certain sense, I said goodbye to the light, intending to stay on this island until my last days,” he writes. Jean-Jacques admires the beauty of the island and the surrounding landscapes; “O nature, O my mother!” he exclaims enthusiastically. Suddenly, he gets an order to leave the island. The question arises: where to go? At first, Berlin was proclaimed the purpose of his journey. But, he writes, “in the third part, if I only have the strength to write it someday, it will be clear why, assuming I went to Berlin, I actually went to England” …


Rousseau’s “Confession” in Brief Content