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Find an audio book of the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau thanks to the voluntary work of the community of the French association "Des Livres à Lire et à Entendre" ³ .



Autobiography covering the first fifty-three years of Rousseau's life, up to 1765. The Twelve Books of Confessions  are divided into two distinct sets, defined by Rousseau himself: the first part consisting of books I to VI with the Preamble, written in 1765-1767, covers the years 1712-1740 (years of formation, from birth in Geneva settling in Paris at the age of 28) while the second part, made up of books VII to XII and written in 1769-1770, covers the years 1741-1765, that is to say his life in Paris in the circles of music and philosophers, with his successes ( Speech  -  La Nouvelle Héloïse ) and her setbacks, such as the attacks following the publication of Émile , which forced her to flee to Switzerland. ¹


The Reveries of the Solitary Walker


Holding both autobiography and philosophical reflection, this book is composed of ten sections called walks which are as many reflections on the nature of Man and his spirit. Rousseau, through this book, presents a philosophical vision of happiness, close to contemplation, to the ataraxic state, through relative isolation, a peaceful life, and above all, a close relationship with nature, developed by walking, contemplation and botanizing. ¹


Rousseau judge of J.-J.  (excerpts)


In 1771, the private readings of  confessions  that Rousseau has engaged come up against the incomprehension and prohibition of the chief of police Sartine. The bankruptcy of  confessions  gives way to another form of apology which are these Dialogues which are still based on psychological analysis, but above all now on judicial rhetoric. The author presents his project in a foreword, entitled: "On the subject and the form of this writing": "The form of the dialogue having seemed to me the most suitable for discussing the pros and cons, I chosen for this reason. He then explains that he will be represented by two characters: on the one hand, the one who will speak under his family name: "Rousseau", on the other, the one who is in question in public opinion: "Jean-Jacques" ( JJ in the text), which will be the subject of a controversy of "Rousseau" with a third character: "the Frenchman", supposed to defend the cause of the adversaries of the author. This conversational device opens a dialectical space by distinguishing the authentic Rousseau from his counterfeit fabricated by his enemies. ¹


Emile and Sophie or The Solitaries


An unfinished work, Émile et Sophie nevertheless constitutes an entity. This is Emile's experimental novel. Rousseau wants to put his two students to the test of necessity to verify their inner freedom in the face of the hassles of social life or the vagaries of existence. How are they going to assume one an adultery in spite of herself, the other a rupture of which he feels victim? The answers are given to us by Émile through two letters to his tutor, in which he traces the path of his emotions, his wanderings, and explains how his wisdom was exercised to dominate them. ²


Essay on the origin of languages


The Essay on the Origin of Languages  (whose full title is  Essay on the origin of languages where it is spoken of melody and musical imitation ) is an unfinished posthumous work in which Rousseau reflects on languages and music, but also completes the  Discourse on the origin and foundations of inequality among men . It was begun around 1755 but remained unfinished and was published by Pierre-Alexandre Du Peyrou, Rousseau's executor, in 1781. ¹


Of the social contract  or Principles of Political Law


the  Social contract constituted a decisive turning point for modernity and has established itself as one of the major texts of political and social philosophy, by affirming the principle of sovereignty of the people based on the notions of freedom, equality, and general will. . ¹

Emile or Education


The first four books describe the ideal upbringing of a fictional young boy, Émile, and are ordered chronologically, tackling, step by step, the educational issues that emerge as he grows up. The last book deals with “education”, or rather the lack of education of girls from another fictional example: Sophie, brought up and educated to be the wife of Émile. Parallel to the strictly pedagogical theories, Émile  includes the famous Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar (Book IV), which provides valuable insights into Rousseau's religious ideas. She wanted to be a model as to how to introduce young people to religious matters. ¹


Julie or the New Héloïse


Original title  Letters from two lovers, inhabitants of a small town at the foot of the Alps , La Nouvelle Héloïse  is inspired by the story of Héloïse and Pierre Abélard, where amorous passion is overcome to give way to sublimated renunciation. Despite the romantic genre in which  La Nouvelle Héloïse , the work is steeped in a philosophical theory where Rousseau explores the moral values of autonomy and authenticity to give preference to this ethics of authenticity against rational moral principles. The accomplishment of what society demands will only be done in accordance with its own "secret principles" and the feelings that constitute the deep identity. ¹

Discourse on the origin and foundations of inequality among men


This philosophical essay was begun in 1753 and published in 1755, in response to a subject of the Academy of Dijon entitled: "What is the origin of inequality among men, and whether it is authorized by natural law?" Along with the Social Contract, it is one of the central works of the author's political thought. Rousseau sets out his conception of the state of nature, of human perfectibility, and presents private property as the source of all inequalities. ¹

Letter on French music _  (1753)

Examination of two principles put forward by Mr. Rameau  (1755)

In this writing, Rousseau shows himself to be a very committed and very biased partisan of Italian music against French music then personified by Jean-Philippe Rameau, against whom he was opposed by an old personal resentment. In this "demonstration" of the superiority of Italian music, the basis of which would be the much more appropriate character of the Italian language for a pleasant musical expression, Rousseau combs the skilful harmonies of Rameau and goes so far as to maintain that the French language can serve as a support for quality works. ¹


The Village Diviner


The Village Diviner  is an interlude (small opera) in one act performed on October 18, 1752 at the Château de Fontainebleau before Louis XV and the court, and on March 1, 1753 at the Royal Academy of Music in Paris. Le Devin du village is the first opera whose words and music are by the same author. This work also illustrates the many contradictions that dot the life and intellectual work of a man who will proclaim, shortly afterwards, in his  Lettre sur la musique française , a "superiority" of Italian music (whose basis would lie in the more appropriateness of Italian for musical expression). However, a few years later, Rousseau changed his mind. He wrote in particular in 1774 to the composer Gluck, after having attended the rehearsals of his opera in French  Iphigenia in Aulide  “I have just left the rehearsal of your Opera d'Iphigénie; I am enchanted! You have achieved what I thought was impossible until now”. ¹


Discourse on the sciences and the arts


Text composed within the framework of the contest of the Academy of Dijon of 1750, the Speech on sciences and arts answers a question: it was then a question of determining "if the restoration of sciences and arts contributed to purify the manners”. Winner of the competition, Rousseau sees his essay, which goes against the current of the ideas of his time, very criticized but owes him a controversial celebrity.  ¹


Fragments on manners

Some aphorisms or fragments found in the papers of J.-J. Rousseau, classified under the name of Fragments sur les mœurs.
They can be read in the edition of
  Complete Works  of the Pléiade, Tome III, in the chapter Political Fragments. ³



A first text  On women , where Jean-Jacques Rousseau shows himself to be an ardent defender of the latter: "I repeat, all things considered, women could have given greater examples of greatness of soul and love of virtue and in greater numbers which men have never done if our injustice had not deprived them with their freedom of every opportunity to manifest them in the eyes of the world. »


A second text  My portrait,  brings together pages that J.-J. Rousseau would have written between 1755 and 1762, a period in which he was thinking of telling his life story but hesitated about the form. A first partial publication dates back to 1834, the first complete to 1908.  “Readers, I readily think of myself and speak as I think. So dispense with reading this preface if you don't like people talking about yourself.[...]»



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