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  1. Rousseau: Solitary Walker - Articles - House of Solitude - Hermitary
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  3. Reveries of the Solitary Walker
  4. Reveries of the Solitary Walker

My vocation thus determined, I was bound apprentice ; not, however, to a watchmaker, but to an engraver; and I had been so completely humiliated by the contempt of the registrar that I submitted without a murmur. My master, whose name was Monsieur Ducommon, was a young man of a very violent and boorish character, who contrived in a short time to tarnish all the amiable qualities of my childhood, to stupefy I had no idea of the facts, but I was already familiar with every feeling.

I had grasped nothing; I had sensed everything. I mean to lay open to my fellow-mortals a man just as nature wrought him; and this man is myself. I alone.

Rousseau: Solitary Walker - Articles - House of Solitude - Hermitary

I know my heart, and am acquainted with mankind. I am not made like anyone I have seen; I dare believe I am not made like anyone existing. If I am not better, at least I am quite different. Whether Nature has done well or ill in breaking I did not fear punishment, but I dreaded shame: I dreaded it more than death, more than the crime, more than all the world. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. It was the last of a number of works composed toward the end of his life which were deeply autobiographical in nature.

The book is divided into ten chapters called "Walks". The first publication was in Jun 17, Khashayar Mohammadi rated it liked it Shelves: biography , philosophy , essays , french-lit.

A lovely and refreshing little read. The book is easy on the eyes and flows very smoothly. A book that captures Rousseau's daydreams while walking; rather therapeutic and even sometimes thought provoking.

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Its a light and refreshing read for philosophy lovers who want to cleanse their palate between long philosophical texts. Oct 12, Jim rated it it was amazing Shelves: reread , philosophy , 18th-century-lit. If you read his Confessions , which is one of the great autobiographies, possibly the greatest, you will learn that Jean-Jacques Rousseau felt himself persecuted by virtually everyone with whom he was associated. Even famous figures of the day such as Denis Diderot and the Scottish Philosopher David Hume were counted by Rousseau as his tormentors.

Although, from my perspective, I am not qualified to pass judgment on the poor man as he saw himself , I do feel that possibly he was a bit too tightl If you read his Confessions , which is one of the great autobiographies, possibly the greatest, you will learn that Jean-Jacques Rousseau felt himself persecuted by virtually everyone with whom he was associated. Although, from my perspective, I am not qualified to pass judgment on the poor man as he saw himself , I do feel that possibly he was a bit too tightly wound up for most human relationships. Consider, for instance, that he placed all his children by his wife Therese LeVasseur in an orphanage rather than bring them up himself.

The Reveries of the Solitary Walker has a kind of Oedipus at Colonus feeling about it: Rousseau is nearing the end of his life and looks back on what brings him tranquility in the midst of all his agitation. Among these things is botany, long walks, and joy in meeting simple people especially children who do not recognize him. Apparently Rousseau had a complex about being recognized, as he often was, living as he did in Paris.

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Reveries of the Solitary Walker

I have always considered Rousseau as perhaps one of the most fascinating of all authors who is at the same time so wrong-headed. If a reader finds himself alternately drawn to and repelled by Rousseau, he should move on to The Confessions and then Emile. The man is nothing if not sincere, nothing if not brilliant, nothing if not so incredibly fd up. View 2 comments. Jun 12, Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it Shelves: adventures-in-thought. Revery seems to have fallen out of favor nowadays.

If it's not one of ten million authorities emphasizing the need for efficiency and planned action, or modern evolutionists of all sorts in business, in fitness, in the arts convincing us that if what we're doing isn't in the name of advancement and improvement then it's not worth doing, or just us telling ourselves that we must keep up with everything and everyone else and so have no time to swim around in our own selves; revery has become the Revery seems to have fallen out of favor nowadays. If it's not one of ten million authorities emphasizing the need for efficiency and planned action, or modern evolutionists of all sorts in business, in fitness, in the arts convincing us that if what we're doing isn't in the name of advancement and improvement then it's not worth doing, or just us telling ourselves that we must keep up with everything and everyone else and so have no time to swim around in our own selves; revery has become the stepsister of onanism.

I suspect that first cable television and now the internet on top of it have become our objects of revery and often even do the reverying for us. Or rather TRY to do it, for these are surely only false reveries. But what does revery even mean? I have an immediate vague notion of pointless daydreaming or being "lost in thought", and I think that's pretty close; but the old style revery involved even more, it was more akin to out of body travel, soul travel, living in a waking dream.

One would gaze at something and enter that something and begin to travel through one's mind. Or one would walk and through the rhythm of the walking memories and thoughts would be dislodged and multiple chains of associative reactions would occur and one would truly be lost in thought in an effectively infinite cosmos of the mind, or walk off the edge of a cliff And revery is like walking off that cliff, becoming untethered from the daily grind and habitual patterns, like a vast unbuckling of thought moving every whichaway in a world gone loosy goosy.

Rousseau opposes revery to thought, saying that he has never been a great thinker; and by this I think he's saying that thought is the active manipulation of our mind and soul activity into intentional patterns, a directed activity with often preconceived ideas; while revery is passive, unintentional, non-conceptual.

There's a lot of self-pitying in this book, but more than that it's a book of almost heroic honesty and self-revelation and it's a thrill to read his thoughts move back and forth between rancor and venom spat out at his contemporaries while at the same time saying he hates no one, and some very moving expressions of universal good will and union with nature.


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It's full of stimulating contradictions which makes it just seem all the more real. And of course there are also a lot of fruitful reveries, or rather the book is the fruit of the reveries, and it's definitely an apple worth chomping into. View all 3 comments. Aug 23, Jimmy rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction , male , switzerland , walking , years. Well, this sounded really good from the description: slightly crazy Rousseau at the end of his life, walking, thinking, bitterness, misanthropy, etc.

However, in practice, it was like listening to that drunk guy at the bar telling you how everybody is against him, and how he really deserves better, and how he's really a great guy and that he's not really mad at these people he calls them his 'persecuters' But he emphasizes those last points a little too pointedl Well, this sounded really good from the description: slightly crazy Rousseau at the end of his life, walking, thinking, bitterness, misanthropy, etc. But he emphasizes those last points a little too pointedly, so that you start to think he doesn't really believe it.

Like he's just saying it to convince himself that it's true.


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  • Reveries of a Solitary Walker?

Because, really, he's not over the fact that certain people don't like him. And you end up not caring if he's really a good guy or not, you just want him to stop talking so you can enjoy your beer. While there are some good ideas and thoughts in here, none of them really blew me away, they all seemed like stuff I would write down in my own diary, only to look back on them and feel a slight twinge of shame.

Reveries of the Solitary Walker

And there's not the meandering quality I would associate normally with a walking narrative. These are ten well-formed essays, with forceful agendas. He didn't stop to tell you about his walk, or about something he observed at the corner of Rue Such-and-such and Avenue de So-and-So.


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No, none of that, it's all Rousseau all the time. He is so much in his own mind that I felt like I was reading a case-study in how not to drive yourself crazy. I see these tendencies in myself sometimes and I hope I don't ever become like him. Reduced to my own self, it is true that I feed on my own substance. And while the writing is not bad, he repeats his points to the point of tedium, and takes so long in saying it, that I fell asleep reading a few of them.

PS - the Introduction, written by the translator Peter France, is pretty good though, and gives a good context of how these writings fit into Rousseau's larger body of work. I do want to read more of Rousseau, he was probably a great thinker before he turned sour and inward.

View all 8 comments. Nov 10, Veronica rated it liked it. These hours of solitude and meditation are the only time of the day when I am completely myself, without distraction or hindrance, and when I can truly say that I am what nature intended me to be.