Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography / Edition 1

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Overview

Franklin’s Autobiography is the only enduring best-seller written in America before the nineteenth century, as well as the most popular autobiography ever written.
As such it deserves to be offered to twentieth-century readers in the most accurate form possible, and so it is, in this Norton Critical Edition, the first text to be edited directly from the manuscripts, rather than perpetuating the errors of previous editions.
The text is fully annotated, and the reading is assisted by helpful footnotes, biographical sketches, and two maps.
In "Backgrounds", the editors collect Franklin’s most important reflections on the Autobiography’s purpose, some anecdotes, and a number of Franklin’s statements on wealth, the art of virtue, and perfection. Materials in "Criticism" range from contemporary opinions—which reveal that readers were divided then as they are now about the art of the Autobiography—to essays written in the twentieth century.
Nineteenth-century opinions include those of John Keats, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, and William Dean Howells, among others.
The twentieth-century materials include D. H. Lawrence’s celebrated essay, an excerpt from Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and the perspectives of such recent critics as Charles L. Sanford, Robert Freeman Sayre, John William Ward, and David Devin.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393952940
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1986
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Franklin was a writer, inventor, political theorist, diplomat, and Founding Father of the United States. He wrote under the pen name of Poor Richard from 1732 to 1757.

J.A. Leo Lemay is H. F. du Pont Winterthur Professor of English at the University of Delaware. His publications include Men of Letters in Colonial Maryland, A Calendar of American Poetry in the Colonial Newspapers and Magazines, and The Frontiersman from Lout to Hero. He has just completed New England’s Annoyances: America’s First Folk Song and is writing a book on the creation of American humor, 1607–1800.

P.M. Zall, Professor of English and American Studies, California State University, Los Angeles, has edited Nathaniel Ward’s Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America, Comical Spirit of Seventy-Six: The Humor of Francis Hopkinson, Ben Franklin Laughing: Anecdotes from Original Sources by and about Ben Franklin, and most recently, Abe Lincoln Laughing. He is compiling a bibliography of English and American jestbooks.

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