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Citizen of Geneva

The hometown tribute to Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Dec 24, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 15 • By PAULA DEITZ
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In another film, “Out of Reach” by Mirjam Landolt, a man simply rows to the middle of a lake and lies in his boat drifting, a reminder of the time in the “Fifth Walk,” during Rousseau’s idyll on the Ile de St. Pierre in the Lac de Bienne, when he drifted so far out in his boat in reverie that he had “to row with all his strength to get back before nightfall.” So much did Rousseau love this island, with “its greenery, flowers and birds” and its “romantic shores bordering a vast stretch of clear and crystalline water,” that in later years he would transport himself there “every day on the wings of my imagination.”

Having absorbed the essence of Rousseau over several days—through art, music, and film—I yearned for an amble in the countryside to experience the panorama firsthand. And for this, no better village nearby can be found than Jussy, surmounted as it is by the Château du Crest, a romantic pile with Savoyard turrets and sloping vineyards that catch the warm light of the setting sun with the summit of Mont Blanc clearly delineated in the distance. 

It is not easy to leave behind the scenic effects that give rise daily to the dramatic landscape views around Geneva. But then, as I headed the next day for an early train to the airport, I realized, too, how one comes to love a city whose railroad station is filled with the aroma of fresh-baked bread at six in the morning.

Paula Deitz is editor of the Hudson Review.

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