The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau, Citizen of Geneva.


Jean Jacque Rousseau.

Early example of non-religious autobiography.


London: Printed for G.G.J. and J. Robinson, and J. Bew, 1790. Second edition. Parts One and Two Complete in 5 volumes. Octavo, full leather. Part the first (two volumes): 318pp; 380pp. Part the second (three volumes): vii, 442pp; 397pp +Key to the Abbreviations (5pp); 418pp + Table of the Letters in this Volume (5pp).

Very Good in Fair to Good casings. The leather casings of all five volumes are rubbed, the corners are abraded, and the hinges cracked or starting, on volume 4 the right bottom corner of the top board has been significantly bumped, there are no titles to the spines but they are numbered 1-5 in gilt (“1” is completely rubbed away and “3” is barely legible), a bookplate affixed to each front paste-down shows a lion enclosed in a circle from which a cross medallion is hanging. The motto reads “Sub Robore Virtus“. There is occasional light scattered foxing but otherwise very clean throughout. A solid clean set in need of re-backing/re-casing.

First published posthumously in 1782 (first part) and 1789 (second part), The Confessions of Jean Jacque Rousseau comprise one of the earliest examples of autobiography not primarily concerned with the religious life of the author. Prior to Rousseau’s publication the two autobiographies of note were St Augustine’s Confessions and St Theresa’s Life of Herself. That Rousseau was well aware of his innovation is evident from the opening lines, ” I have entered on a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will leave no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man, shall be myself!”