The Educational Theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau

By William Boyd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE PREPARATION FOR THE EMILE

1. Rousseau in Montmorency. -- The Discourse on Inequality was published in 1755. A year later Rousseau left Paris and settled down on the borders of the Forest of Montmorency, with full intention never to reside in a city again.1 The change from town to country was followed by the happiest results. Free from the irritation of uncongenial surroundings, he soon regained the tranquillity of mind which he had lost in the society of city people. Once at a distance from his fellows, his misanthropy steadily diminished. "The beginnings of this change," he says, "took place as soon as I quitted Paris, and the sight of the vices of that city no longer kept up the indignation it had inspired in me. No sooner had I lost sight of men than I ceased to despise them."2 During the next six years, which were on the whole years of happiness in spite of the fact that they witnessed the beginnings of the quarrels with some of his former associates which embittered the rest of his life, he worked away steadily at various

____________________
1
Up to the time when the Confessions were written, he had never been in a city for more than a day or two at a time. It was not the least of the misfortunes of his old age that the last eight years of his life were spent in Paris.
2
"En quittant Paris, Rousseau . . . échappait au joug des entretiens à cette autorité de l'opinion de la mode, qui domine toujours un peu les esprits les plus fermes: : et il se retrouvait où son génie s'était formé, aux champs et dans la solitude."-- VILLEMAIN, Dixhuitième siècle, pp. 235-6.

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