The Influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile on Thomas Day: Background information when reading How to Create the Perfect Wife

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How to Create the Perfect Wife

Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate

by Wendy Moore

How to Create the Perfect Wife
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  • Published:
    Apr 2013, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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Beyond the Book:
The Influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile on Thomas Day

Jean-Jacques RousseauWendy Moore illustrates the various cultural influences that led to Thomas Day's peculiar experiment. Among these are the Pygmalion myth (later popularized in George Bernard Shaw's play by that name, as well as the musical, My Fair Lady, based on Shaw's play) and, perhaps most influentially, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's book, Emile, or On Education. First published in 1762, the educational treatise uses novelistic conventions (such as character and plot) to illustrate Rousseau's theories on the best way for the individual to retain innate goodness while still participating as a functioning member of society. It's divided into five parts, beginning with very young childhood and eventually exploring the ideal route for the individual to choose a trade, become a productive member of society, and choose a spouse - sort of a roadmap for how to balance the state of nature with the demands of society.

Frontispiece to Rousseau's <i>Émile</i> by de Launay for the 1782 edition

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