preview

Purpose Of Confessions Rousseau

Decent Essays
Confessions (1789), an autobiography by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) is seen as a reaction against Augustine's Confessions and stands as a rebuttal to the latter’s understanding of human nature. Rousseau is considered to have invented modern autobiography in his compositions of Confessions, Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques (1776) and The Reveries of a Solitary Walker (1778). The idea of confession and in naming the book as such, the narrative presented in Confessions can be seen as an attempt on behalf of Rousseau to persuade the reader by offering his life as an example of his philosophy. In the religious act of confession, it is assumed that the person confessing will speak the truth and that he will accept the judgment conferred upon…show more content…
“How could I become wicked, when I had nothing but examples of gentleness before my eyes, and none around me but the best people in the world?” (Rousseau 1789, p. 9) As Roy Pascal notes (p.71), autobiographical narratives which attempt to reconstruct childhood are based almost solely on memory and very distant memories, then the line between truth and untruthfulness becomes extremely blurry. However, Rousseau argues that he is completely accurate about his own internal life. The reader has his word for this; though there are no independent witnesses to his psychological states. It might be of an interest to note that in this extensive work of autobiography, Rousseau refers to the act of lying approximately twenty five times which is an excusable amount for a body of work attempting to illustrate a person’s almost entire…show more content…
I have neither omitted anything bad, nor interpolated anything good.” (p.3) By the act of writing an autobiography, the author, narrator and protagonist has to be identical, using the proper name of the author as reference (Lejeune, 1973, p. 298) and this trinity of an identity must refuse to give others the same status that they claim for themselves. The concept of autobiography requires inequality of treatment between others and Rousseau and this brings in the possibility of untruthfulness; as he writes at the beginning of the Confessions, “I know the feelings of my heart, and I know men” (Rousseau 1789, p.3). Everything is an object for knowledge, while the “I” is the sole
Get Access