Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Geneva, Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
Death 2 Jul 1778 (aged 66)
Ermenonville, Departement de l'Oise, Picardie, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 1520 · View Source
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Philospher, author, composer, botanist. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born into a Protestant family of watchmakers in Geneva, Switzerland. The Rousseau family was of French origin but was exiled to Switzerland because of their faith. His mother died nine days after his birth, and his father died when Jean-Jacques was ten years old. He was largely raised by his uncle, who was a Protestant pastor, and by another clergyman. His uncle apprenticed him to an engraver. At the age of 16 Jean-Jacques immigrated to Annecy in France, where he met the Baroness de Warens, who became his tutor and mistress. The baroness had recently converted to Catholicism, and Jean-Jacques did the same. Their relationship was the inspiration for his book "La Nouvelle Héloise." Jean-Jacques eventually moved to Paris, where he lived with a servant with whom he had five children. He put all of his children in orphanages, an act which he later regretted. While in Paris he turned his attention to music, working on a system of musical notation, and to philosophical writing. He fell in love with Louise d'Epinay and fled Paris for Montmorency. In 1752 he was presented to King Louis XV for whom he wrote a one-act opera, "Le Devin du village." His two early books, ""Émile, ou De l'éducation" and "Le Contrat social" were considered highly radical and were banned in France, the Netherlands, Geneva and Berne. Rousseau's view was that man is born good and is corrupted by society. He encouraged love and tolerance over order and discipline in child rearing, and emphasized the rights of individuals within society. Rousseau's arch-enemy, philosophically and politically, was the wealthy and sophisticated Voltaire. After seeing and ridiculing Rousseau's opera "Le Devin du village," Voltaire snidely commented that the work proves that the bad are destined to live alone. Rousseau's retort was that only the good can live alone. Increasingly sensitive to criticism, Rousseau came to believe that people were plotting against him. He wrote his remarkable "Confessions," which opens with the memorable scene of Rousseau admitting to his faults while defending his sincerity, and inviting God to gather around him other men and daring them to say "I was better than this man." At the end of his life, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a broken man. An admirer of his writings, the Marquis de Girardin, offered him a home on his estate in Ermenonville and gave him the job of cataloguing the plants and flowers on his extensive property. After his days of work as a botanist, Rousseau wrote down his thoughts, which after his death were gathered into a volume entitled "Les Rêveries du promeneur solitaire." In his reflections Rousseau made the poignant comment that when he looked back on his life and saw how his efforts to do good to his fellow man were mocked, he realized that in order to do good for others, one must first be true to oneself. Rousseau died from a fit of apoplexy at Ermenonville and was buried there. Rousseau's views on the individual's position within society brought him to be considered one of the fathers of the French Revolution. The new French nation created the Pantheon as the final resting place of its great citizens, and in 1794 Rousseau's remains were moved there with grand ceremony, thereby officially designating him one of the glories of France. A wall of his sarcophagus is decorated with the image of an arm emerging from a door and holding a lighted torch. In an ironic twist of fate, Rousseau's crypt is located next to that of his arch-enemy, Voltaire.

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1520
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28 Jun 1712–2 Jul 1778), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1520, citing The Pantheon, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .