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The Confessions seem to pop up everywhere, in History, Philosophy, and especially in articles on influences in Literature.

Youll find you simply can not put it down could not put it down. It is great to read and learn alot about the period in history and the life of Rousseau himself, but that isnt the magic of the book. It is Rousseau himself who seems to come alive through the pages.

The tortured honesty on every page which excites and shocks you, keeps you up late every night until you are finished. There are times you simply have to put the book down, catch your breath a little, and think, Oh My! I cant believe it!

After, you will realize you have finished one of the best reading experiences of your life. It ranks right up there with The Red and The Black, Les Mis, Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina. This book will live through the ages.

Rousseau, like Voltaire and Diderot, his contemporaries, could look upon his fellow man and himself with both a frown and a smile. He claims at the outset of the work that he is going to show you himself as he honestly is, warts and all. Dont believe him! But dont turn your back on him either, or dismiss him as a liar! You would be denying yourself the company of one of the most charming alluring reconteurs in all of literature, should you do so.

Monsieur Rousseau absolutely loves talking about himself. That sounds like a recipe for boredom, I know. But the trouble is, hes got such a fascinating subject. He knew everyone who was anyone in the 18th century. The women, in particular, were the actual movers and shakers of fin de siecle France. They were figures who presided over literary salons when there actually were literary salons. Madame de Stael is only one matron who looms large in the account. France was basically ruled by powerful and cunning women in that era. Rousseau was there, mentally recording every intimate bon mot and detail.

Then there is his infectious, expansive nature to win you over! Try as you might, self centered as the man is, you cant help liking the guy! He is the ultimate Romantic, in the best sense of the word. He believes in his soul that mankind is noble, that we were put here on earth to enact a divine plan for the benefit of all. That the French Revolution would show a different, Hobbesian side to his theory doesnt really diminish his optimistic, humanistic influence on the Romantic movement and ultimately 19th century literature, in general. Hes one of those seminal figures without whom Goethe, the Romantic poets, Blake, Emerson, Whitman, etc. wouldnt have been possible.

This is a great book. Liar, hedger, whatever, you really will get to know this character in all his colors, subterfuges, moods, etc. Love him or hate him, you will have to admit that hes like no one you have ever met. Unfortunately.

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