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A Waistcoat soaked in Tears

Douglas Johnson, 27 June 1991

The Noble Savage: Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1754-1762 
by Maurice Cranston.
Allen Lane, 399 pp., £20, February 1991, 0 7139 9051 1
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Writings of Rousseau. Vol I: Rousseau: Judge of Jean-Jacques. Dialogues. 
translated by Judith Bush, edited and translated by Christopher Kelly and Roger Masters.
University Press of New England, 277 pp., $40, March 1990, 0 87451 495 9
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... About Rousseau, as about Romanticism, it is tempting to use the word ‘disorderly’. Maurice Cranston showed us in the first volume of this, the most masterly of biographies how he had spent his early life as a wanderer and adventurer, he had been an itinerant tutor, a humble music-copier, an ambitious composer; the lover of a Swiss countess and the secretary to a diplomat; he had become a fashionable writer with an obsession about preserving his independence; he was an uneasy Catholic who needed a religion and who thought that he had found it in Protestantism; he was someone who discovered that his waistcoat was soaked in tears but who had not been aware that he had been weeping ...

The Crime of Monsieur Renou

Alan Ryan, 2 October 1997

The Solitary Self: Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Exile and Adversity 
by Maurice Cranston.
Allen Lane, 247 pp., £25, March 1997, 0 7139 9166 6
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... As political theorist, Maurice Cranston had little to add to the conventional wisdom, but he possessed an astonishing, if strangely low-key, talent as a biographer. His biography of Locke, published in 1956, showed that the fustian, commonsensical, cautious and pragmatic Locke that every undergraduate knew from philosophy and political theory tutorials had in fact been a stranger, wilder and more dangerous figure than they suspected ...

Missed Opportunities

Judith Shklar, 4 August 1983

Will and Circumstance: Montesquieu, Rousseau and the French Revolution 
by Norman Hampson.
Duckworth, 282 pp., £19.50, June 1983, 0 7156 1697 8
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Jean-Jacques: The Early Life and Work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1754 
by Maurice Cranston.
Allen Lane, 382 pp., £14.95, April 1983, 0 7139 0608 1
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... as Rousseau’s was, he will attract biographers. With the publication of the first volume of Maurice Cranston’s Jean-Jacques, there are now two and a half biographies available in English. Each one follows the Confessions step by step, adding some information here, correcting an error there and commenting on Rousseau’s ideas as these ...

Kafka at Las Vegas

Alan Bennett, 23 July 1987

... one of those imaginary encounters (Freud and Kafka is an obvious one) that used to be devised by Maurice Cranston in the days of the BBC Third Programme. But if Wittgenstein had never heard of Kafka, Kafka would certainly have heard of Wittgenstein. It was a noted name in Bohemia, where the family owned many steelworks. A steelworks is a dangerous place ...

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