Reading Rousseau's sexuality

Part of book or chapter of book English OPEN
Howells, Robin (2005)
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Subject: CAL
  • References (33)
    33 references, page 1 of 4

    1. Confessions, CW5.7-11; Dialogues, CW1.123. References are to The Collected Writings of Rollsseau, e d . Roger D. Masters and Christopher Kelly (Hanover and London: New England University Press, 1990- ), by volume and page-number(s). I also give references to the authoritative French edition of Rousseau's Euvres completes, in the Ple'iade (5 vols; Paris: Gallimard, 1959-95)' especially when supplying the French text (modernised) in notes. The translations here, attempting to convey the quality as well as the sense of Rousseau's writing, are usually my own.

    2. Plutarch presents the austere republican heroes of Sparta and Rome; the romances of La Calprenede or Mme dc ScudCry (fiction mostly set in ancient times) feature Alexander and Cyrus, CIeopatra and Clelia. On the continuing cultural significance of t h e seventeenth-century French romances even in mid-eighteenth-century England,

    14. Fie was sickened by the sight of bitches [sic: 'des chiennes'] coupling, and by seeing holes in t h e earth where h e was told that whores and debauchees did the same ['des cavites dans la terre ou I'on m e dit que ces gens-l2 faisaient leurs accouplements']: CW5.14; Pleiade i, p. 16. Horror of the female 'hole' is surely implicit.

    15. 'Ce vice, q u e la honte et la timidite trouvent si commode, a d e plus u n grand attrait pour les imaginations vives: c'est de disposer pour ainsi dire a leur gre de tout le sexe [...l sans avoir besoin d'obtenir son aveu': CWS.91; Pleiade i, p. 109.

    16. Rousseau's accounts of t h e 'illumination' that h e experienced in 1749 o n the road to Vincennes can be found in CW5.294-5, 575, and CW8.20; Pleiade i, pp. 351, 1015, 1135-6.

    17. For Rousseau 'utopias were genuine portraits of t h e human heart', as Judith Shklar nicely puts it, embracing t h e aspirational, philosophical a n d fictional dimensions of his writing: Men and Citizens: a Study of Rousseau's Social Theory (Cambridge UP, 1969), p. 8.

    18. CW1.123, 153-4, and CW5.577-9; Pleiade i, pp. 817, 857-8, 1138-42.

    19. 'Jarnais il n e m'embrassa q u e je n e sentisse a ses soupirs, a ses convulsives etreintes, qu'un regret amer se mslait 2 ses caresses'; "'Ah", disait-il en gemissant, "Rends-la-moi, console-moi d'elle"': CW5.7; Pleiade, i, p. 7.

    20. 'Une fois que m o n pPre le chitoyait rudement et avec coli.re, je me jettai impetueusement entre deux l'embrassant etroitement. Je le couvris ainsi de mon corps recevant les coups qui lui etaient portks': CW5.9; Pleiade i, pp. 9-10.

    21. It seems that the minister and his sister had actually been accused of improper intimacies: see Clement, De 1'Eros coupable, p. 60, note 36; Coz, La Ckne, p. 36. But JeanJacques is unlikely t o have known that. Our concern anyway is less with the putative 'facts' than with t h e sexual imclginaire - as i n our reading of the text of the Confessions itself.

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