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Rousseau documents make Unesco list

Documents connected to the 18th century writer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau have been added to the Unesco Memory of the World register.

The Rousseau collections held in Geneva and Neuchâtel are the first Swiss items to be included in the list.

The two collections include the most important manuscripts of his work, letters, writings about Rousseau, pirated editions of his work, pictures, and his death mask.

Rousseau (1712-1778), was born in Geneva and died outside Paris. He lived in a number of different places during his life, including Neuchâtel, partly as a consequence of his revolutionary ideas about both society and religion.

His best known works include On the Social Contract, which greatly influenced later political thought; Emile, or On Education; and his novel, Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloise, which contributed to the development of romanticism in literature.

A poll conducted by a Swiss Sunday newspaper in 2009 placed him 13th in a list of the most significant Swiss of all time.

The Unesco Memory of the World programme was established in 1992, initially in response to an awareness that many important documents were in a poor state of preservation and difficult to access.

There are currently 238 items on the register.


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