The great upsurge of creativity that began in 1749 with Rousseau’s ‘illumination’ on his way to visit Diderot and which, during the next twelve years, had resulted in the writing of the Discourse on Inequality, Émile, La Nouvelle Héloïse, The Social Contract and a host of other works, ebbed somewhat after he fled Paris in 1762 to escape the threatened persecution that followed the publication of Émile. Not that Rousseau ceased to write – far from it. But his major essays in social and political philosophy were done and, with some exceptions such as for example the completion of his Dictionary of Music, and the preparation of his essay Considerations on the Government of Poland looked at in the preceding chapter, his output over the following years was predominantly devoted to self-explanation and selfjustification in a variety of different modes. The year 1763 saw the publication of his Letter to Christophe de Beaumont, and 1764 his Letters Written from the Mountain. Both of these were written to defend himself against specific accusations laid against him as a result of ideas expressed in E and SC. And although there is material of enduring interest in these works, their scope and purpose is largely governed by the controversial circumstances of the moment and we do not find in them major new ideas nor important changes in the character and direction of Rousseau’s work. The real new departure in the progress of his creative life came with his beginning work on The Confessions. The text of that as we have it was completed in 1770, though not published in Rousseau’s lifetime, and the next major

work, Rousseau Judge of Jean-Jacques: Dialogues was begun a couple of years later. The final significant autobiographical work, The Reveries of a Solitary Walker, also Rousseau’s last work, was begun in 1776 and left unfinished at his death. It is these three works I shall be concentrating on in this chapter, giving central place to The Confessions, a work of enormous interest and power and one which is a real pleasure to read.