Espace Rousseau Neuchâtel

The Neuchâtel Public Library and University Library (La Bibliothèque publique et universitaire de Neuchâtel) in the former Latin College (Collège latin) presents a world-famous exhibition dedicated to the writer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778).  

The former Latin College (Collège latin) in Neuchâtel. Photo: TES

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment and is still an “influencer” in literature, politics, and social issues with a varied but coherent number of works.

Three texts were bestsellers and a combination of literature and philosophy: La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761], Les Confessions (1765) and Les Rêveries du promeneur solitaire (1776).

In the Enlightenment, he advocated the reform of the political and social structures, education, morality, law, and religion.  His Sur les sciences et les arts (1750) and Discours sur l´origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes (1755)  made him famous.

The following works, however, were considered too controversial, such as Emile ou de l’éducation (1762) and Du Contrat social (1762). He was forced into exile in Neuchâtel, a Prussian principality (1707-1857).

Music has always played a significant role in Rousseau’s life and work. He proposed a new musical notation system (in 1742), wrote more than 400 articles on music for the ‘Encyclopédie’ of Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and Jean le Rond d’Alembert (1717-1783), composed operas, and was an active music copyist.

He developed a passion for botany during his stay (1762-1765) in Neuchâtel and the Island St. Peter in the Lake of Biel (Bielersee/lac de Bienne). He wrote several books about this topic and created a new system of describing plants, the pasigraphy of flora.

J.J. Rousseau, La botanique, printed in 1805, illustrated by P.J. Redouté.

Combining new technologies, archives and first editions of several of his writings, the Espace Rousseau Neuchâtel presents a journey through his life. It offers a better understanding of Rousseau’s relationship with his contemporaries and the influence of his work.

(See for further information also: Môtiers (the village of his stay in 1762): Musée Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Geneva (his place of birth), Maison Rousseau et littérature; the Island St. Peter (in September 1765 he fled to this island), Couvet (he became a citizen of the village on 1 January 1765) and in NeuchâteI (Musée d’arts et d’histoire and L’Association Jean-Jacques Rousseau).

Source: Espace Rousseau Neuchâtel