Abstract: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the enemy of books and civilized learning, might seem poles apart from Quintilian, who was so popular in France in the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, although there are only small traces of direct contact between the author of Émile and the Institutio, comparison between the two works is illuminating. Both are large-scale educational treatises embodying a vision of humanity. The important common ground between them concerns the importance of early childhood, a certain moral idealism, and the prfrence for a manly form of speech. Significant divergences begin to appear in relation to three major areas of concern: citizenship and the public life, the relation of words to things, and the question of acting, imagination, and fiction.

Je ne me lasse point de le redire: mettez toutes les leçons des jeunes gens en actions plustôt qu'en discours; qu'ils n'apprennent rien dans les livres de ce que l'expérience peut leur enseigner. Quel extravagant projet de les exercer à parler sans sujet de rien dire, de croire leur faire sentir sur les bancs d'un collège l'énergie du langage des passions, et toute la force de l'art de persuader sans intérêt de rien persuader à personne! Tous les préceptes de la rhétorique ne semblent qu'un pur verbiage à quiconque n'en sent pas l'usage pour son profit. Qu'importe à un Ecolier comment s'y prit Annibal pour déterminer ses soldats à passer les Alpes?

(I never tire of repeating it: put ail your tessons for young people into actions, not speeches; let them learn nothing from books which they could learn from experience. What an insane idea to exercise them in speaking when they have nothing to speak about, to believe one can make them feel on their school benches the language of the passions and ail the force of the art of persuasion, when they have no interest in persuading anybody! All the precepts of rhetoric are pure verbiage to anyone who cannot see what use they are to him. What does it matter to a schoolboy how Hannibal set about persuading his soldiers to cross the Alps?)

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