The Reveries of the Solitary Walker by Jean-Jacques Rousseau - 5 questions
In 1712, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in the free, but aristocratic, Republic of Geneva. He was a Protestant orphan, the son of a watchmaker, who converted to Catholicism by chance on his journeys on foot in France and Italy. He was self-taught and musician, and arrived in Paris with a life experience different from the brilliant minds of the Age of Enlightenment.
His thinking is centered on nature, analyzing the power of reason, and challenging the modes of government of his time. He shares the concerns of philosophers. However, his personal vision of the world and the seriousness of his eloquence contrast with the social movements of those who were his friends, such as Diderot.
Rousseau decides to write The Reveries of the Solitary Walker (French: Les rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire) at the age of 64, it will be his last work. In what follows, I suggest you discover 5 questions to better understand his work:
- Why did Rousseau write the Reveries of the Solitary Walker?
- What are Rousseau’s main ideas?
- Does Rousseau believe in God?
- Why does Rousseau feel persecuted?
- Why did he renounce the society of men?
Why did Rousseau write the Reveries of the Solitary Walker?
In the first walk, Rousseau explains his writing project. He wishes to devote his last days to studying himself and preparing in advance the account he will soon give of himself. During these hours of solitude and meditation, he is fully himself, and he can say that he is what nature intended. The “me”, which for philosophers gives way to reason, occupies an important place in his universe and flourishes in meditation and intimate contact with the beauties of nature, or within a small society.
What are Rousseau’s main ideas?
The man born naturally happy and healthy is corrupted by the society and makes him unhappy. Now, he prefers to live in nature instead of with men: “I am a hundred times happier in my solitude than I am with them.“
Does Rousseau believe in God?
Rousseau believes that God is fair and wants him to suffer, but he gives up Catholicism and joins Protestantism. “Seduced by naivety, lured by hope, forced by necessity, I became a Catholic, but I always remained a Christian.“
Why does Rousseau feel persecuted?
Jean-Jacques thinks that there is a plot against him. He says that “his cruel enemies” are scientists, church people, or even doctors. With each turn of the pages, this plot becomes a universal agreement (second walk). It is true that his books were condemned, his house was vandalized, and that certain great minds such as Voltaire mocked him. Without the persecutions of which he was really the victim, the book would never have seen the light of day.
Why did he renounce the society of men?
Rousseau only breathes well in nature. His life is a quest for purity, which he pursues to the point of obsession, having the feeling of being misunderstood by the rest of the world. His friends turned against him, hurt him, and he no longer trusts men anymore. That’s why the goal he aspired to pursue was to become a more virtuous man (third walk) in life.
Enhancing French Language
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