Front Page Titles (by Subject) INTRODUCTION * - Emile, or Education
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INTRODUCTION * - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, or Education 
Emile, or Education. Translated by Barbara Foxley, M.A. (London & Toronto: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1921; New York: E.P. Dutton, 1921).
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Emile is a philosophical romance with three chief characters—Emile, Sophy, and Jean Jacques himself who moves to and fro, realising and explaining his character in every page. It is written with the enthusiasm and the conviction of the man who has tried every axiom it contains upon the strings of his own heart; and its purpose is to arouse and defend the susceptibility of the child who could grow into such a man by all the forces of education.
Rousseau was fifty when he wrote the book, and it followed closely on his Social Contract and New Heloïsa, that is to say, he was able to envisage his childhood, boyhood, and youth across the corrective experience of the years that for most men kill out the early illusions and only spare the ideals that can stand the wear and tear of reality. In his Confessions he reveals enough of his overwrought sensibility, his tears, his passions très-ardentes, his effervescences de sang, to let us enlarge the picture he gives in Emile. We see him there an abnormally sensitive creature, a child that is both more and less of a child than the average. But this very excess has its advantage. The emotions, the love of beauty and desire for happiness, the sense of pain and fear, the vanity, the self-consciousness, being all carried to their extreme, are more certain of being brought to the sharper test. The risks they incur, the faculties they accompany and serve to hide, the pliant yet steadfast supports they need in the growth to maturity, are only to be understood and pointed out by one who, like the little Genevan boy, has felt their effect for good and evil in his own person.
Rousseau’s method in dealing with these things is, it has been pointed out by his critics, by no means scientific. He arrives at the truth about them by rebelling violently against the untrue as he conceives it, or against whatever has been painful to himself in his own experience. And he took, as we remember, his childish ailments of the spiritual kind very badly; he had fevers where other youngsters have only stomachaches, and his nervous economy was abnormal. “Let us transform our sensations into ideas,” he said more than once in his writings; and his ideas, even when he does get at them, are rather emotions of attraction and repulsion than ideas in the strictly philosophical sense.
We seem to hear him murmur to himself at every stage of his reminiscent and anticipatory thesis: “Me voilà redresseur des torts.” He found the wrongs that the child suffered under the artificial eighteenth-century civilisation, as he saw it in France, a menace to the whole welfare of humanity. The emotion of revolt was strong in him from the first day he was able to feel the bonds, and nature had gifted him with an extraordinary power of conveying his emotion to others.
The most important of his teachings about education, says Lord Morley, sprang from his contempt of its dependence upon mere spoken injunctions and prohibitions, and his recognition of “the deeper language of example and the more living instruction of visible circumstance.” Many of the great changes that have since his day taken place in the theory and the art of education all over Europe, we may agree, are to be “traced to the spread of this wise principle and its adoption in various forms.” If the same writer unduly discounts Rousseau’s sense of justice, seeing that one of the noblest pages in Emile is virtually a tribute to that quality, he makes rich amends in other ways. His recognition of the work as “one of the seminal books” of the world’s literature has almost become proverbial in Rousseau criticism. And as for its effect in the sphere of French ideas—to state it fully, says Lord Morley, “to strike the account truly, would be to write the history of the first French Revolution.” Elsewhere in Europe the influence was almost as strong. Lavater was fired by him in Germany; Pestalozzi borrowed freely from Emile; and Jean Paul in Levana names the book as his impulsive source.
To-day its accent, its particular mode of edification, may seem at first a little out of fashion, and its contradictions and occasional failure in logic may spoil a few of its pages. Rousseau is affected in spite of himself by the male prejudice of his time and country, and the education of women as it is displayed to us in behalf of Sophy at the end of the book is a poor enough complement to that of Emile, the patternman. But those who turn to it remembering the circumstances in which it was written will conceive Emile and Sophy, the Savoyard Vicar and its author, as humanly conditioned by their own day, and will not fail to realise again the power of the emotion it aroused. No one who reads it but will quarrel with some of its pages; no one who does so, having at heart the real education that is not in books or in rules, but in the actual commission of life itself, will fail to understand why Emile was called the child’s charter, and to draw wisdom from it.
[* ]Principal Works: Article in the Mercure in answer to one entitled Si le monde que nous habitons est une sphère ou une sphéroïde, 1738; Le Verger de Mme. de Warens, 1739; Sur la musique moderne, 1743; Si le rétablissement des Sciences et des Arts a contribué à épurer les Mœurs, prize essay, 1750, translated by R. Wynne, 1752, by anonymous author, 1760, by H. Smithers, 1818; Devin du Village (opera), 1753, translated by C. Burney, 1766; Narcisse, ou Amant de lui-même, 1753; Lettre sur la musique Française, 1753; Sur l’origîne de l’inegalité parmi les hommes, 1755; Discours sur deux principes avancés par Rameau, 1755; Sur l’économie politique, 1758; Letter to d’Alembert on his article Genève in the Encyclopédie, 1758, translated 1759; Lettres à Voltaire, 1759; Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, first published under the title of Lettres de deux amants, habitants d’une petite ville au pied des Alpes, etc., 1761; Contrat Social, or Principes du droit politique, 1762; Emile, ou De l’Education, 1762; Lettre à Christophe de Beaumont, Archevêque de Paris, 1763; Allée de Silvie (poem), 1763; Lettres écrites de la Montagne, 1764; De l’imitation théâtrale, 1764; Dictionnaire de musique, 1767, translated by W. Waring, 1779; Lettres sur son exil du Canton de Berne, 1770.
Posthumous Works: Emile et Sophie, 1780; Les consolations des misères de ma vie, 1781; Considérations sur le gouvernement de Pologne, 1782; Les Confessions, and Rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire, 4 vols., 1782-9; Nouveau Dédale, 1801; La Botanique de J. J. Rousseau, 1805; translated, with additional letters, by T. Martyn, 1785, 7th edition, 1807; Testament de J. J. Rousseau, 1820.
Translations: Héloïse (Eloisa), 1761, with a sequel found after the author’s death, 1784, 1795, 1810; Emile, by Nugent, 1763; anonymous translator the same year; abridged and annotated by W. H. Payne, 1893; Emile et Sophie, by Nugent, 1765 (?), by the translator of Eloisa, 1767; Contrat Social, 1764, 1791, in vol. iii. of Political Classics, 1795, 1840 (?), by R. M. Harrington, with Introduction by E. L. Walter, 1893; by H. J. Tozer, 1895, 1902, 1905; Confessions, 2 vols., 1783; 1796-90, 1861, 1891 (Masterpieces of Foreign Authors), abridged from 1896 edition, with preface by G. J. Holyoake, 1857; complete translation (privately printed), 2 vols., 1896; with Introduction by Hesketh Milis (Sisley Books), 1907; the second part, with a new collection of letters, 3 vols., 1791.
Works: 1764 (6 vols.); 1769 (11 vols.); 1774 (London, 9 vols.); 1782, etc. (17 vols.); 1790 (33 vols.); 1790 (30 vols., or 35); 1788-93 (39 vols.); 1793-1800 (Didot, 18 vols.), and later editions from this same firm; Musset-Pathay, 1823-6.
Miscellaneous Works: 5 vols., 1767.
Posthumous Works: 1782, 1783; Oeuvres inédites (Musset-Pathay), 1825, 1833; Fragments inédits, etc., by A. de Bougy, 1853; Oeuvres et Correspondance inédites (Streckeisen-Moultou), 1861; Fragments inédits; Recherches biographiques et littéraires, A. Jansen, 1882.
Works translated from the French, 10 vols., 1773-74.
Letters: Sur differents Sujets, 5 vols., 1749-50; Lettres nouvelles sur le motif de sa retraite à la Campagne, adressées à M. de Malesherbes, 1780; Nouvelles lettres, 1789; Lettres au citoyen Lenieps, etc., 1793 (?); Correspondance originale et inédite avec Mme. Latour de Tranqueville et M. du Peyrou, 2 vols., 1803; Lettres inédites à Mme. d’Epinay (see Memoirs of Mm. d’Epinay), 1818; Lettres de Voltaire et de Rousseau à C. J. Panckoucke, 1828; Lettres inédites à M. M. Rey, 1858; Lettres à Mme. Dupin (in Le Portefeuille de Mme. Dupin), 1884; Lettres inédites (correspondence with Mme. Roy de Latour), published by H. de Rothschild, with preface by L. Claretie, 1892; Lettres (between Rousseau and “Henriette”), published by H. Buffenoir, 1902; Correspondance avec Léonard Usteri, 1910.
Translations: Original letters to M. de Malesherbes, d’Alembert, Mme. la M. de Luxembourg, etc., 1799, 1820; Eighteen letters to Mme. d’Houdetot, October 1757-March 1758, 1905.
Life, etc.: J. H. Fuessli, Remarks on the Writings and Conduct of Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1767; Stael-Holsteim (Baroness de Rocca), Letters on the Work and Character of Jean Jacques Rousseau (translation), 1789, 1814; J. Morley, Rousseau, 1873, 1886; H. G. Graham, Rousseau (Foreign Classics for English Readers), 1882; T. Davidson, Rousseau and Education according to Nature (Great Educators), vol. ix., 1898; J. Texte, Jean Jacques Rousseau and the Cosmopolitan Spirit in Literature, etc. (translation), 1899; H. H. Hudson, Rousseau and Naturalism in Life and Thought (World’s Epoch Makers), 1903; F. Macdonald, Jean Jacques Rousseau, a new criticism, 1906; J. C. Collins, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau in England, 1908.