The Reveries of the Solitary Walker [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 34 (1):159-162 (1980)
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Abstract

Upon first reading this work, and without knowing its author, one may doubt its philosophical significance. Whereas philosophy implies wakefulness, the Reveries denotes dreams, "a shapeless diary" of the movements of the author’s soul. Often perceived as the product of Rousseau’s disturbed last years, seldom has it been used for interpreting his better known writings. It may therefore seem not surprising that two centuries should have passed before a scholarly English translation of high quality would appear, one that is indeed prepared by a translator thoroughly grounded both in the tradition of Western philosophy and in the thought of Rousseau. Yet appearances notwithstanding, Charles Butterworth appends to his excellent translation an elaborate interpretative essay to justify the view that Rousseau’s last writing represents an ordered view that is not only philosophically interesting, but also reveals the basis of his paradoxical thought.

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