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Rousseau-Part 2

     Living in a century of discontent, Rousseau became its mouthpiece. He was the supreme interpreter of the ideas, feelings, and passions that were fermenting in the decomposition of the ancien regime. His was the fierce spirit of negation. He was plebeian by birth and preference. He disdained all the ideals of the aristocracy, and all strong assumption of authority in church or state. He was skeptical, unsocial, and violent. His books contained more of passionate feeling than of logic, and were all true pictures of the man out of whose heart they came. One of his books was entitled The Solitary Stroller, and such indeed the author was. He was "a romancer who made theories," for his theoretical works are interesting stories. If they are at times morbid and extravagant in statement, it is because genuineness of his feeling, and the great sincerity of his words and because of his genius that he created so profound an impression upon the world.

Rousseau had wonderful literary gifts, and the world has become imbued with many of his most radical ideas. "An alluring, an irresistible guide, he has not been an infallible one. Many have gone astray in following him." In spite of his faults there was much in him that was truly noble, especially his hatred of pretense, hypocrisy, falsehood, injustice, and cruelty. And perhaps best of all was his love of children. It is said that he used to secrete himself where he could listen unobserved to the conversations of little children. Surely no lover of children can read the first and second books of Emile without pronouncing a blessing upon its author.

The Etude Magazine November 1912

 

 

 

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