- Bibliographie mondiale des écrits sur Jean-Jacques Rousseau, xviiie–xxie siècles, ii: Vie — Famille — Événements – Lieux — Relations par Tanguy L’Aminot
Broadly speaking, bibliographies fall into two categories, and in both cases they should be comprehensive, reliable, and easy to consult. On the one hand are those which describe, in greater or lesser detail, all the editions of the works of a particular author (or, more precisely, as many editions as the bibliographer has been able to find). On the other are those which list the studies devoted to an author, theme, or specific subject, and which give basic publication details such as the name of the writer and the title of the book or periodical in which the study can be found. Over the last thirty years, Tanguy L’Aminot has published several notable volumes of Rousseau bibliography which fall into the latter category. The present work continues the series, being a catalogue of studies on Rousseau’s life and relationships published in the last 250 years or so. It can fairly claim to satisfy the first two requirements set out above, with full details of some 4,500 titles, published not only in the main European languages, but in Japanese as well. They are divided into general sections such as ‘Fantaisies et romans en relation avec Rousseau et son œuvre’, as well as ‘Lieux’ and ‘Événements’, with the individual places and happenings comprising these two latter categories presented alphabetically; hence, anyone seeking to know what has been written on, for example, Rousseau and Lyon, or the transfer of his remains to the Panthéon, can readily find that information here. Again, the section on ‘Relations’, carefully details, in alphabetical order of person, the studies devoted to just about everyone with whom Rousseau had dealings at some point in his life. These are perhaps the most valuable parts of the bibliography. Elsewhere, however, for reasons not explained, this convenient and straightforward system is not used. The section on ‘Famille’ is divided by century, rather than by listing Rousseau’s relatives under their own individual headings. As a result, finding what has been written about, say, his childhood and upbringing becomes rather a chore, requiring the perusal of numerous articles written over some two and a half centuries in the hope of coming across something relevant. L’Aminot seems almost to anticipate this problem when he writes in the short bilingual Introduction: ‘nous invitons les utilisateurs à parcourir les index des diverses bibliographies et à ne pas se contenter d’aller au thème unique qui les préoccupe’ (p. 8). Readers perusing the section ‘Famille’ might ruefully reflect that they have little choice, especially as there is in fact nothing which any objective observer would recognize [End Page 457] as an index, but merely a final, one-page ‘Table des matières’ giving the general headings of the sections. All in all, therefore, while this volume can justifiably be regarded as a very useful addition to the bibliography of writings on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, anyone who consults it needs to make due allowance for its idiosyncrasies.