Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My mother gave birth to me on the 28th of June, 1712 in Geneva Switzerland. My mother died 9 days after I was born, and my father raised me on his own. I liked music when I was younger and I wrote an opera or two in my younger years. I never was very good at anything but I was strong enough to make it through on my own. I struggled off and on with women of pleasure and fortune much to my surprise and dismay. I discovered my talent and infinite passion for writing when I entered an essay writing contest for Dijon Academy. This essay (which won the contest) set me off on my writing career. I wrote a novel which became the pleasure of rich and poor alike called La Nouvelle Héloïse a masterpiece, of which I am quite proud, comparable to (but most probably better than) Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. With my new found talent I laid unto the world my thoughts on life. With L'Émile ou de l'éducation and Du contrat social I set forth my greatest maxims, that society is responsible for the banes of man and that life in the state of nature with mans natural liberties is better than the enslaving society of today. The first (this is me!) being a treatise on childhood education (although I never kept mine) and the second a piece on the necessary "social contract" of government that transforms primal man into a moral and reasonable human being (if gone about properly). Unfortunately the public was not ready for such genius and many barbaric authorities condemned and burned them. I had many friends who helped me along (many of whom I distrusted and/or deserted) like Diderot, David Hume, the Prince de Conti, and Étienne Condillac. In my old age I wrote an autobiography of sorts called Confessions. My life's work may have been called contradictory by later readers but I like the description different much better.

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