The Nature of Rousseau's 'Rêveries'

BookThe Nature of Rousseau's 'Rêveries'

The Nature of Rousseau's 'Rêveries'

Physical, Human, Aesthetic

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2008:03


March 4th, 2008

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Research on Rousseau’s innovative last work is changing direction. Long situated in a context of autobiographical writing, its moral and philosophical content is now a major critical preoccupation. The Nature of Rousseau’s ‘Rêveries’: physical, human, aesthetic brings together the work of international specialists to explore new approaches to the defining feature - the ‘nature’ - of the Rêveries. 
In essays which range from studies of botany or landscape painting to thematic or stylistic readings, authors re-examine Rousseau’s intellectual understanding of and personal relationship with different conceptions of nature. Drawing connections between this text and earlier theoretical writings, authors analyse not only the philosophical and personal implications of Rousseau’s reflections on the outer world but also and his attempts to examine and validate both his own nature and that of ‘l’homme naturel’.
In The Nature of Rousseau’s ‘Rêveries’: physical, human, aesthetic the contributors offer new insights into the character of Rousseau’s last major work and suggest above all its experimental, elusive quality, hovering between inner and outer worlds, escape and fulfilment, experience and writing. They underline the unique richness of the Rêveries, a work to be situated not simply at the end of Rousseau’s life, but at the very centre of his thought.

'The variety of Rousseaus we get here is testimony to the ‘richness and complexity’ of the Rêveries and of Rousseau’s conception of nature.'
Eighteenth-Century Studies

'Laurence Mall’s ground-breaking piece is at once profound, eloquently argued, and well written. […] This essay deserves to be read by anyone interested in the eighteenth century and should be mandatory reading for all Rousseau scholars.'
Eighteenth-Century Fiction

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
List of tables8
List of illustrations10
I. Nature in Rousseau’s Rêveries22
The ‘Septième promenade’ of the Rêveries: a peculiar account of Rousseau’s botany?24
Rousseau and landscape painting in France50
Nature as refuge in Rousseau’s Rêveries du promeneur solitaire72
II. Nature and human nature in Rousseau’s Rêveries84
‘Les opérations que font les physiciens’: physique de l’homme naturel selon les Rêveries du promeneur solitaire86
Nature et origine: l’accident de Ménilmontant98
A dream of human nature112
III. Human nature in Rousseau’s Rêveries128
Le carrosse et le jardinier: nature et dénaturation dans la ‘Deuxième promenade’130
Forced into freedom: Rousseau’s strange self portrait in the Rêveries142
Rousseau’s quixotic quest in the Rêveries du pro-meneur solitaire152
‘Dieu est juste; il veut que je souffre; et il sait que je suis innocent’: le problème du mal dans les Rêveries de Rousseau166
Un étranger pas comme les autres: la voix du maître178
‘Ebranlé mais non convaincu’: Rousseau parmi les philosophes192
Nature as the possibility of change and resistance200
De Vincennes à Ménilmontant: promenade et projet autobiographique dans les Rêveries du promeneur solitaire210
The exile and the moss-trooper: Rousseau and Thoreau on walking in nature222
IV. The formal or aesthetic nature of Rousseau’s Rêveries236
The solitary walker and the invention of lyrical prose238
De rêveries en promenades: essai d’étude générique à partir des Rêveries du promeneur solitaire258