'No one can write a man's life except himself.' In his Confessions
Jean-Jacques Rousseau tells the story of his life, from the
formative experience of his humble childhood in Geneva, through the
achievement of international fame as novelist and philosopher in
Paris, to his wanderings as an exile, persecuted by governments and
alienated from the world of modern civilization. In trying to
explain who he was and how he came to be the object of others'
admiration and abuse, Rousseau analyses with unique insight the
relationship between an elusive but essential inner self and the
variety of social identities he was led to adopt. The book vividly
illustrates the mixture of moods and motives that underlie the
writing of autobiography: defiance and vulnerability,
self-exploration and denial, passion, puzzlement, and detachment.
Above all, Confessions is Rousseau's search, through every resource
of language, to convey what he despairs of putting into words: the
personal quality of one's own existence.