- Rousseau on Women, Love, and Family
It was a good idea by the editors of the ongoing edition of the Collected Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau to make this substantial and well-produced selection of [End Page 87] Rousseau's thoughts on women, love and the family. In all, twenty one items have been extracted from the Collected Writings to form this collection. Some, like the four passages from Emile, cover many pages, while others, like the laconically brutal description of a household on the rue Saint-Denis, fill just half a page (p. 269). Some extracts, like the two from the Letter to d'Alembert, will be more familiar than others, notably the two letters to 'Henriette', newly translated here from R. A. Leigh's edition of Rousseau's correspondence, or the two passages from the Levite of Ephraim and Emile and Sophie. The only noticeable omissions from this very helpful collection are the account of music and the origin of love in the Essay on the Origin of Languages and the parallel passage in the second Discourse. The whole edition is arranged under five broad rubrics – gender identity, women, women and politics, love and family – to form a sequence that, perhaps, pays rather more attention to modern concerns than to Rousseau's own. It also has a twenty page introduction and a useful bibliography of English language publications on the works underlying the selection.