Jean-Jacques Rousseau Bibliography
Projet pour l’éducation de M. De
An account of Rousseau’s project for the education of the
eldest son of M. de Mably. From May 1740 until May the
following year Rousseau served as tutor to the two sons of M. de
Mably. Mably, the brother of the Abbé de Mably and
Condillac, was the Prévôt-Général
of the province of Lyonnais.
Dissertation sur la musique moderne 1742
Le nouveau Dédale 1743
Unpublished manuscript on the
construction of a flying machine; “what privilege can birds
have to exclude us from their medium, when
fishes admit us to theirs?”
Les Muses galantes 1745
Rousseau finished his ballat Les Muses galantes in 1745
and it was first performed at the Opéra in Paris with no
Discours sur les sciences et les arts 1749
Rousseau’s essay won the Dijon academy prize in July 1750. He was ill when the news arrived and Diderot saw to its publication by the end of 1750. (Trans. as the Discourses
on the Sciences and the Arts, 1751, and known as the First Discourse). The Discourse, a diatribe against advanced civilization and a hymn to “ignorance, innocence and poverty”, made an extraordinary impression. “You are raised to the skies”, reported Diderot. “There never was a success like it!”
However, in the Essai sur les règnes de Claude et de Néron Diderot described Rouseau’s essay as “an old warmed-over quarrel,” and “apologia for
ignorance,” which exalted the “savage over the civilized state”.
Essai sur l’origine des langues 1749
Narcisse ou l’amant de lui-même 1752
First played at the Théatre Français.
Le Devin du village 1752
This operatic intermezzo won Rousseau immediate fame following its debut at Fontainebleau on 18 October 1752. Performed before Louis XV it was later emulated by both Gluck and Mozart.
Lettre sur la musique française 1753
Published in November, the Lettre bitterly attacked French opera, French music and other aspects of French musical life. “French song is nothing but a continuous bark”. The orchestra of the Paris Opéra hanged
Rousseau in effigy and refused him entry to their performances.
Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de
l’inegalite parmi les hommes 1755
Essay entered, unsuccessfully, for the Dijon competition.
Completed in June 1754 and published in May 1755; trans. as A
Discourse upon the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality
Among Mankind, 1762, and usually known as the Second
Rousseau sent a copy to Voltaire, who replied, on 30 August 1755, “Sir, I have received you new book, written against the human race, and I thank you . . . Never was so much intelligence used to make us stupied. While reading it, one longs to go on all fours”.
Discours sur l’économic politique 1755
Commissioned by Diderot and printed in the Encyclopédia, Vol. V.
Lettre sur la providence 1756
Unpublished manuscript, dated 18 August 1756, in which Rousseau
argued against Voltaire’s rejection of a beneficent
Lettre sur la musique française 1756
Rousseau's infamous attack on French music was seen as a direct criticism of Rameau's operas.
Lettre à d’Alembert sur les spectacles 1758
More commonly known as the Lettre sur les spectacles, a
refutation of d’Alembert’s article ‘Genéve’ in the Encyclopédia. In the proofs of his Letter on Stage-Performances he added a paragraph to the Preface, in which he refers to his break with Diderot, (without mentioning him by name): “Living alone I had no one to show it to. I used to have a severe and judicious Aristarchus (i.e. critic); I have him no longer, and I do not want him any longer; but I shall never cease to regret him, and he is even more a loss to my heart than to my writings.”
Voltaire had inspired the article which
d’Alembert had written after a visit to Les Délices;
not only was the city of Calvin asked to build a theatre but also
certain of its pastors were praised for their doubts of
Christ’s divinity. The scandal provoked a hasty response: the Encyclopédie was forced to interrupt publication and Rousseau’s refutation marked a final break between himself and Voltaire. The prohibition of further publication of the Encyclopédie coincided with the crisis occasioned by an attempt on the life of the King.
The Lettre included one of Rousseau’s more notorious remarks on women: “In general, women like and appreciate no art and have no genius. They can succeed in small works that need only lightness of touch, thought and taste, and sometimes philosophy and reason . . . Their writings are as cold and pretty as they are themselves, and contain as much wit as you like, but never a soul. They do not know how to describe or to feel the sentiment of love.”
D’Alembert replied to the Lettre with the Lettre à J.J. Rousseau, citoyen de Genève.
Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse 1761
Publication, early in the year, met with great success.
The English translation appeared in the same year.
During 1761 Rousseau works on producing editions of and essays on
Saint-Pierre’s Le Projet de paix perpétuelle and Discours sur la polysynodie.
Du Contrat Social, ou principes de droit politique 1762
Published in April, Du Contract Social appeared in
thirteen French editions in 1762 and 1763, and three English
editions, one German and one Russian by 1764. However,
Rousseau’s other works, especially Émile and
Nouvell Héloïse, had, in France and throughout
Europe, before 1789, a far wider circulation than Du Contract
Voltaire noted in the chapter on social religion in the margin of his copy that compulsion to subscribe to a religion was outrageous: “All dogma is ridiculous, deadly” and again, “All coercion on dogma is abominable. To compel belief is absurd. Confine
yourself to compel good living.” (George R. Havens, Voltaire’s Marginalia on the Pages of Rousseau: A Comparative Study, 1933, 68.)
Émile, ou de l’education 1762
Completed in the autumn of 1760, Émile finally
appeared in May, bearing the imprint ‘A La Haye, chez Jean
Néaulme’. Rousseau’s Parisian publisher,
Duchesne, presented the work as if it had been printed in Holland;
hence the imprint with the Dutch publisher’s name of
Néaulme. (This common deception in publishing during
the eighteenth was abetted by commerical considerations: Dutch
editions were expensive). The book was translated under the title Émile, or Education, 1764), and published in
Both Du Contrat Social and Émile were condemned, first in Paris, where on 9 June the parlement issued a warrant for the burning of Émile and the arrest of Rousseau (friends assured Rousseau that no attempt would be made to pursue him if he fled), and then in Geneva (the only place where Du Contrat Social was actually burnt), after which Rousseau fled to Switzerland to escape arrest. The government in Paris reneged on its tacit agreement to let Émile appear after the combined
protests of the Sorbonne, the archbishop of Paris and the
parlement. On 19 June the Genevan authorities
condemned both works as “rash, scandalous, impious, tending
to destroy the Christian religion and all government...”, and
added a warning that Rousseau would be arrested if he set foot in
Geneva. In Émile it was primarily the essay
‘Profession of Faith’, which was included in Book 4,
which landed Rousseau in trouble with the French authorities.
Rousseau was geniunely hurt when Émile was declared
to be blasphemous.
In a letter to Philibert Cramer, dated 13 October 1764, Rousseau insisted on the theoretical character of his book: “it is impossible to make an Émile,” but, he added, “can you believe that this should have been my aim and that the book bearing this title is a true treatise on education? It is a relatively
philosophical work on a principle that its author has advanced in
other writings: that man is naturally good.”
Émile et Sophie, ou les Solitaires 1762
A sequel to Émile, which Rousseau worked on
between 1762-5, and left unfinished. Published 1780.
Lettre à Christophe de Beaumont, Archévêque de Paris 1763
An attack on the archbishop of Paris who had condemned
Émile. In his Pastoral Letter,
Mandement de Monseigneur l’Archevêque de Paris
portant condamnation d’un livre qui a pour titre,
Émile, ou de l’éducation, par J.J.Rousseau,
citoyen de Genève, Beaumont wrote: “Saint Paul
predicted, dearly beloved Brethren, that dangerous days would come
when there would be men infatuated with themselves, proud,
overbearing, blasphemers, impious, calumniators, inflated with
conceit, seeking voluptuousness instead of God; men of corrupt
minds and perverted faith”.
In denigrating Rousseau as a writer preaching man’s original innocence the Mandement exclaimed, “from the heart of error there has arisen a man filled with the language of philosophy without being truly a philosopher; his mind endowed with a mass of knowledge which has not enlightened him, and which has spread darkness in the minds of others; his character given over to paradoxical opinions and conduct, joining simplicity of manners with ostentatious displays of ideas, zeal for ancient maxims with a rage for innovation, the obscurity of seclusion with a desire for notoriety: we have seen him thunder against the sciences he was cultivating, crying up the excellence of the Gospels whose dogmas he was destroying, paint the beauty of virtues he obliterating in souls of his readers. He has made himself the preceptor of the human race only to deceive it, the mentor of the public only to mislead everyone, the oracle of the century only to secure its ruination”.
Rousseau, convinced of “the essential truths of Christianity”, presented a point by point
refutation of the Letter. As a Christian, Rousseau would have
nothing to do with St Paul’s doctrine of original sin, or
with grace, fear or the mystery of predestination.
“Yes, I am afraid of saying it; if in Europe there was a
single enlightened government, whose views were really useful and
sane, it would have given public honours to the author of
Émile and erected statues to him.”
“My Lord, you have insulted me publicly, and I have just proved to you that you have calumniated my. If you were a private person like me, and I were able to summon you to appear before an impartial tribunal, you with your Pastoral Letter and I with my Émile, you would surely be found guilty and condemned to make me reparation as public as your libel. But you occupy a rank where you are absolved from the duty of acting with justice, and I am nothing. Nevertheless, you, Prelate, appointed to teach others their duty, you know your own in such a case. As for me, I have done
mine. I have no more to say to you, and I hold my peace.”
Lettres écrites de la montagne 1764
A reply to Jean-Robert Tronchin, procurator-general of the
Genevan republic, who had written Lettres écrites de la
campagne, in which he defended the executive council of
Geneva (the Petit Conseil) for having ordered the burning of
Émile and Du contrat social. The
parlemant of Paris ordered the Letters to be burnt alongside
Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary in April 1765. It
was also burnt at the Hague on 22 January 1765.
Projet de Constitution pour la Corse 1764
In September Rousseau was asked by Matteo Buttafuoco, a friend
of Pasquale Paoli, to prepare a constitution for Corsica.
Rousseau never completed the project, though a rough draft was
published with the above title in 1861.
Dictionnaire de Musique 1767
Les Confessions 1770
Rousseau finished Les Confessions, begun in 1766, in 1770 and
started private readings of the work, which in 1771 and at the request of Mme d’Épinay are banned by the police. Rousseau prohibited the publication of his Confessions before the year
1800. Nevertheless, printers managed to get hold of copies,
perhaps through Theresa, Rousseau’s wife, who was always
short of money; the first part appeared in 1781 and the second part
“When I wrote my Confessions I was already old and
disillusioned with the vain pleasures of life, all of which I had
tasted and felt their emptiness in my heart”.
Reveries of the Solitary Walker, 76.
Considérations sur le gouvernement de la
Written after Count Wielhorski asked Rousseau to advise the
Poles on how to reform their institutions. It was first
published in 1782.
Dialogues: Rousseau juge de Jean-Jacques 1775
In December, Rousseau tried to place the Dialogues under
God’s protection on the high alter of Notre Dame, but was
prevented from doing so by the iron grille surrounding the choir,
which he had never before noticed on his many previous visits to
the church. He gave a copy of the work to Condillac, who
reacted unfavourably, and started to hand out to passers-by a hand
written circular beginning:
To all Frenchmen who still love justice and
People of France! Nation that was once kind and
affectionate, what has become of you? Why have you changed
towards an unfortunate foreigner who is alone, at your mercy,
without any support or defender ...
Rousseau entrusted the manuscript to Sir Brooke Boothby, his neighbour at Wootton Hall, to be published
after his death, which he duly did at Lichfield in 1781.
“Human nature cannot turn back. Once man has left the time of innocence and equality, he can never return to it.”
“Whence could the painter and apologist of human nature have taken his model, if not from his own heart? He has described this nature just as he felt it within himself. The prejudices which had not subjugated him, the artificial passions which had not made him their victim - they did not hide from his eyes, as from those of all others, the basic traits of humanity, so generally forgotten and misunderstood . . . In a word, it was necessary that one man should paint his own portrait to show us, in this manner, the natural man.” (“Dialogue Troisième”)
In all his writings, Rousseau said he saw “the development of his great principle that nature has made man happy and good but that society depraves him and makes him miserable. Émile in particular, that book that has been so much read, so little understood, and so poorly appreciated, is nothing but a treatise on the original goodness of man.” In his earliest writings, he had
“concentrated most of all on destroying that illusion that
gives us a foolish admiration for the instruments of our
unhappiness, and to correct that misleading evaluation that makes
us honor pernicious talents and despise useful virtues.
Everywhere he shows us mankind better, wiser, and happier in its
primitive condition, blind, miserable, and wicked to the degree
that it has departed from that condition.” But, he
emphatically adds, “human nature does not turn back.
Once man has left it, he never returns to the time of innocence and
equality” - this was another principle on which Rousseau
“insisted most strongly.” Rousseau repudiates the
widespread and “obstinate” accusation that he had
wanted “to destroy the arts and sciences, the theatre, and
the academies, and to plunge the world into its original
barbarism.” Quite the contrary: “He always
insisted on the preservation of existing institutions, arguing that
their destruction would only remove the remedies but leave the
vices intact, and to substitute plunder for corruption.”
Rêveries du Promeneur solitaire 1776
The chronology of the work is uncertain. The first two
Walks seemed to have been written in the autumn and winter of 1776
and then continued intermittently until 1778, when the Tenth Walk,
itself unfinished, is dated Palm Sunday 1778.
Les Confessions 1782
Publication of Part I; Part II appeared in 1789. (Trans.
Reveries of the Solitary Walker 1782