On this day in 1712 Genevan philosopher, composer and writer Jean-Jaques Rousseau (28 June, 1712 – 2 July, 1778) was born. Rousseau’s political philosophy influenced the French Revolution and modern politics.
- Even though Geneva is now in Switzerland, at the time Rousseau was born it was a city-state. Rousseau usually signed his books “Jean Jacques Rousseau, Citizen of Geneva”.
- At the age of 10, Rousseau’s father quarreled with a wealth landowner and moved. Since then Rousseau saw little of him.
- At the age of 13 Rousseau apprenticed to a notary, then to an engraver who beat him. At 15 Rousseau took shelter in the city of Savoy with a Roman Catholic priest. There Rousseau met 29 year old Françoise-Louise de Warens who converted him to Catholicism.
- As a teenager, Rousseau supported himself as a servant, tutor and secretary in Italy and France while living on and off with de Warens.
- When he was 20, the religious and pious Madame de Warens took Rousseau as her lover. Rousseau considered her the love of his life.
- While working as a secretary to the French ambassador to Venice, Rousseau discovered Italian music and opera and became a lifelong fan.
- Rousseau became the lover of, a seamstress. The couple had a son which Rousseau abandoned, first saying he wasn’t rich enough, but later confessing that he was scared because he didn’t want his son to be entrusted “to a family ill brought up”.
- Rousseau’s abandonment came back to haunt him when he was successful as a theorist of child rearing.
- It is said that Rousseau’s encouragement for women to breast feed their children saved thousands of lives.
- Sixteen years after his death, Rousseau was declared a national her in France and interred in the Pantheon in Paris.
Zohar – Man of la Book
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