Fun Facts Friday: Jean-Jaques Rousseau

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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.
Fun Facts Jean-Jacques_Rousseau

  1. 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”.
  2. At the age of 10, Rousseau’s father quarreled with a wealth landowner and moved. Since then Rousseau saw little of him.
  3. 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.
  4. As a teenager, Rousseau supported himself as a servant, tutor and secretary in Italy and France while living on and off with de Warens.
  5. When he was 20, the religious and pious Madame de Warens took Rousseau as her lover. Rousseau considered her the love of his life.
  6. While working as a secretary to the French ambassador to Venice, Rousseau discovered Italian music and opera and became a lifelong fan.
  7. 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”.
  8. Rousseau’s abandonment came back to haunt him when he was successful as a theorist of child rearing.
  9. It is said that Rousseau’s encouragement for women to breast feed their children saved thousands of lives.
  10. 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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