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