|Jean Jacques Rousseau|
Following in the footsteps of Rousseau, our first stop is Annecy where in 1728 the future writer met Madame de Warens. Her mission was to help protestants convert to Catholicism. Upon meeting young Rousseau, Madame de Warens sent him to Turin where he abjured his protestant faith and was baptized on 24 of April 1728. A year later, he will return to Annecy to enter the service of Madame de Warens, a 30-year-old noblewoman. He found at first in Madame de Warens a substitute mother (he had lost his mother at birth) and called her "Maman". She also encouraged him in pursuing his readings, poetry writings and music compositions. At 20 years of age, Rousseau entertained a "liaison amoureuse" with his protectress whom he considered the greatest love of his life.
When Madame de Warens moved to Chambery in 1731, then the capital of Savoy, Rousseau followed her after a brief stay in Paris. He pursued his passion for musical composition and gave music lessons to the young ladies of the Chambery gentry. A statue of the philosopher stands in the garden "du clos des Savoiroux " attesting to the time he spent in the Savoyard city.
In 1741, Jean-Jacques Rousseau leaves les Charmettes to take a a position in Lyon as a tutor to well-to-do young boys. It lasted six months but during this time he reflected on education and child rearing. Later in the novel Emile he wrote : " The noblest work in education is to make a reasoning man, we expect to train a yound child by making him reason! This is beginning at the end; this making an instrument of a result. If children understood how to reason they would not need to be educations" he also said "What is the goal of education of a young man but to making him happy". Concepts that resonates well today.
Rousseau travelled extensively throughout his life --including Paris, Venice, Geneva, Bienne, Basel and even London. He wrote about politics, philosophy, education, botany, musical treatises and composed operas. His ideas were considered instrumental in the cause of the French Revolution. He died in 1778 (two month after Voltaire!) and was interred 16 years later at the Pantheon in Paris as a National hero. In his Confessions (considered to be the first major modern autobiographical work), Jean Jacques Rousseau narrates the events of his life and how his experiences shaped his philosophy. Happy Birthday Monsieur Rousseau!!