Jean-Jacques Rousseau was the first, and the most eloquent and versatile, of that extraordinary line of radical modern thinkers who aimed their disenchantment at the very roots of the human social order and thereby forever reshaped the way we deal with one another. Of Rousseau’s many contributions to the tradition he inaugurated, the one for which he is most revered and that makes these pages glow with conviction is his passionate indignation about anything that trammels individual freedom.
This revised edition of G. D. H. Cole’s celebrated translation includes an appendix of sections from the first manuscript draft of The Social Contract and the passage in Rousseau’s novel Émile in which he summarizes its argument, along with Cole’s original preface, which has itself become a classic.
Translated by G. D. H. Cole
Revised and augmented by J. H. Brumfitt and John C. Hall
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“The Social Contract has beguiled generations of readers since its first publication in 1762 . . . In any competition for the best-known line in political literature The Social Contract’s ‘man is born free but is everywhere in chains’ holds a commanding lead.” —from the Introduction by Alan Ryan