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Rousseau's Elysium. Ermenonville Revisited

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) is generally seen as one of the most important figures whose ideas had a great influence on the French Revolution (1789). Many immediately associate him with the concept of "the noble savage." However, just as with his political and philosophical writings, his love for botany and scenery would change the landscape of continental Europe, if not the world. This book presents a unique view of the young Rousseau's awakening love for plants, and his sometimes euphoric appreciation of the scenery during his endless walks. The author unfolds the development of Rousseau's concept of nature, which makes it possible to pinpoint the exact and pivotal moment of change in his thinking about the natural environment. This culminated in a vision that converged with the the Marquis de Girardin's ideas about landscaping. The reader follows the Marquis during the development of the first English Garden in France, where Rousseau probably spent the happiest weeks of his life. While the park represents Rousseau's dream come true, it was destined to become the place of both his death and his tomb. In text and photographs this book captures the character of the park, built around the concepts of two men of fundamentally different character. It is the park's intricate mixture of bliss and gloominess that put a spell on the reader and every visitor.
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About the Author

Gerard J. van den Broek is an anthropologist/semiotician. He is currently working as Head Knowledge & Strategy of the Home Office. His principle research interests include the semiotics of classification systems, material culture as an entrance to man's cognition, hunting and fishing ritual and mythology, and the anthropology of Rousseau and the philosophy of Enlightenment.

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