Jean-Jacques Rousseau draws inspiration from Montreux
Geneva-born writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau knew the Lake Geneva Region well. A passage of his novel “Julie or the New Heloise” is set in the Montreux region, thus contributing to its romantic reputation.
Writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Geneva 1712 – Ermenonville 1778) published the epistolary novel “Julie or the New Heloise” in 1761. The title of this novel was initially “Letters by two lovers living in a small villa at the foot of the Alps”. The action of the novel is set in the Montreux region. Chillon, Clarens and Lake Geneva are also mentioned.
“Julie or the New Heloise” describes the thwarted love of Julie, of noble birth and her private tutor, St-Preux, of modest origin. The novel describes the lovers’ exalted feelings and is a precursor of Romanticism. With more than 70 editions before 1800, it was one of the greatest successes of its time!
Rousseau expressed his political and educational ideas in his writings and also prepared the set of values forming the basis of Romanticism.
Cultivated tourists visit Montreux in search of the places where Julie and St-Preux met. Among them was Lord Byron, whose visit of Chillon Castle in 1816 inspired him to write the romantic novel “The Prisoner of Chillon”.