Title: Confessions
Author: Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Published: 1782
Genre: Autobiography
Page Length: 365


Confessions is an autobiographical book written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1782. The book is divided into twelve sections that are organized chronologically, and each section is broken up into chapters. The book covers Rousseau’s life from his birth in Geneva in 1712 to his final years in France.

Section One covers Rousseau’s early childhood and family life. Rousseau talks about his father’s occupation as a watchmaker and his mother’s death when he was ten years old. He also describes his formal education and the various tutors that his father hired.

In Section Two, Rousseau moves to Paris at the age of 16 and starts working as an apprentice to a notary. He then begins indulging in a Bohemian lifestyle, where he spends much of his time writing and reading. During this time, he also forms many romantic relationships, including one with an older woman named Madame de Warens.

In Section Three, Rousseau leaves Paris and begins traveling throughout Europe. He eventually ends up in Bern, where he becomes a secretary to a wealthy diplomat named M. de Montaigue. Rousseau then travels to Venice, where he takes on several odd jobs.

Section Four covers Rousseau’s return to Paris and his friendship with Denis Diderot, whom he meets at a salon. Rousseau starts contributing articles to Diderot’s Encyclopedie and begins writing plays.

In Section Five, Rousseau publishes his first major work, the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts. The book critiques the cultural values of his time and argues that humankind should return to nature.

In Section Six, Rousseau talks about his relationship with Therese Levasseur, with whom he has five children, all of whom he gives away to foundling hospitals. Rousseau also discusses how he became financially successful through his writings.

Section Seven covers Rousseau’s time in Geneva, where he is haunted by his reputation as an atheist. Rousseau restores his reputation by writing the Confessions, which is a great success and earns him a lot of money.

In Section Eight, Rousseau’s relationship with his benefactor, Madame de Warens, comes to an end, and he experiences a spiritual crisis. He eventually converts to Catholicism.

Section Nine covers Rousseau’s move to England, where he meets David Hume, with whom he forms a friendship that eventually sours. Rousseau also describes his time living with a mistress named Mrs. Thrale.

In Section Ten, Rousseau returns to France and is forced to flee to Switzerland due to the controversy surrounding his work, Emile, which was banned by the French government. Rousseau then moves to England again but eventually returns to France.

In Section Eleven, Rousseau describes his final years in France, where he is vilified by the public for his radical political ideas. He dies in 1778.

In Section Twelve, Rousseau reflects on his life and the mistakes he made.


Confessions is primarily about Rousseau’s personal life and experiences, but it also touches on some broader themes. These themes include the pursuit of happiness, the importance of nature and individualism, and the conflict between society and the individual.


The book is mainly about Rousseau himself, but it also features several other important characters, including his father, Denis Diderot, Madame de Warens, Therese Levasseur, and David Hume.


Confessions is an important work of autobiography and one of the seminal works of the Romantic movement. It is notable for its emotional honesty, its exploration of individualism, and its influence on later writers and philosophers. The book is also an important historical document that provides insight into social norms, politics, and culture in the eighteenth century.