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Franklin Benjamin : Autobiography & Other Writings (Sc) (Signet classics) Paperback – 26 Sep 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Australia; Reissue edition (26 Sept. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451524977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451524973
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 1.5 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,499,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Reasonably priced, comprehensive edition with good selection of other writings."--Virginia Caris, George Washington University"I really like this edition because of the variety of Franklin's writings represented here. The affordability of this text is greatly appreciated by the students as well."--Lynn Searfoss, Purdue University --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Benjamin Franklin's writings represent a long career of literary, scientific and political efforts over a lifetime which extended nearly the entire eighteenth century. Franklin's achivements range from inventing the lightning rod to publishing Poor Richard's Almanack to signing the Declaration of Independence. In his own lifetime he knew prominence not only in America but in Britain and France as well. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Franklin composed his autobiography at three different times in his life. Read the first page
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS on 15 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is the story of one man's efforts to integrate certain principles and habits - integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty - into his life and to embed them deep within his nature. Franklin was a scientist, philosopher, statesman, inventor, educator, diplomat, politician, humorist and man of letters who led a very full life. He was also a moralist and humanitarian who was happy to be considered unconventional by doing things the way he thought they should be done. His was a life well lived and a model from which we can learn much. In the introduction we are told: "Himself a master of the motives of human conduct, Franklin did not set out to reveal himself in his autobiography. Rather, he intended to tell us (insofar as we, the nation, are the 'posterity' to whom he addressed himself) how life was to be lived, good done, and happiness achieved - how the ball was to be danced."
Franklin did not have an easy life as the tenth son of a candle maker whose education ended at the age of ten. But by hard work and careful planning he was able to retire from business at the age of forty-two and devote his time to science and politics. He was sent to England in 1764 to petition the King to end the proprietary government of the colony. Soon after the Revolution began he was sent to France to negotiate an alliance with Louis XVI. He was a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. It is difficult to image anyone not coming away richer from reading this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 25 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a kind of time machine that puts you straight into the Eighteenth Century. Benjamin Franklin comes over as a fearless and open character, although he is at pains to present himself as a solid and successful businessman in the printing industry. He is very much a man of his time. He concerns himself with God and self-improvement, then after he marries he says how glad he is that he did not catch VD from 'certain low women' beforehand. This, certainly consciously, echoes St Paul's advice on why people should marry.

Within the text are probably whole layers of meaning and allusions to contemporary events and news culture that are lost on twenty-first century readers. He is certainly working within religious and classical traditions of what an autobiography should be: a conversation with God, carried on in public? or moral examples and advice to the young.

Sometimes he is having a laugh at the autobiographical and literary form itself. For example, it is a commmonplace of Eighteenth Century Literature that you-the writer-had no intention of publishing your book until you were prevailed upon by your friends or the public. Franklin opens the second section of his autobiography with a letter purportedly from a Quaker who says that a life of Franklin would be worth even more than 'all Plutarch's Lives put together.'This must have raised a laugh in his local club, his 'junto' as he calls it.

However, within the same pages, Franklin describes, clearly with pride, how he swims from Chelsea to Blackfriars in London-which is quite a physical feat, it being two or three miles. He is also at some pains to place much of his financial success on hard work, simplicity and the avoidance of alcohol.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dejamanjeau on 15 April 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The first part of the book is heavy fog index. The publisher should have put in chapters and natural breaks. It makes the reading laborious. The eighteenth century spelling makes one read far more slowly.Altogether an informative book makes one wish to learn more of the period. But beware of the aforementioned.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 26 reviews
123 of 128 people found the following review helpful
Franklin's informal account of his remarkable life 10 July 2002
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In many ways, this is, to someone coming to it for the first time, a very surprising book. For one thing, it is amazingly incomplete. Franklin is, of course, one of the most famous Americans who ever lived, and his accomplishments in a wide array of endeavors are a part of American lore and popular history. A great deal of this lore and many of his accomplishments are missing from this account of his life. He never finished the autobiography, earlier in his life because he was too busy with what he terms public "employments," and later in life because the opium he was taking for kidney stones left him unable to concentrate sufficiently. Had Franklin been able to write about every period of his life and all of his achievements, his AUTOBIOGRAPHY would have been one of the most remarkable documents every produced. It is amazingly compelling in its incomplete state.
As a serious reader, I was delighted in the way that Franklin is obsessed with the reading habits of other people. Over and over in the course of his memoir, he remarks that such and such a person was fond of reading, or owned a large number of books, or was a poet or author. Clearly, it is one of the qualities he most admires in others, and one of the qualities in a person that makes him want to know a person. He finds other readers to be kindred souls.
If one is familiar with the Pragmatists, one finds many pragmatist tendencies in Franklin's thought. He is concerned less with ideals than with ideas that work and are functional. For instance, at one point he implies that while his own beliefs lean more towards the deistical, he sees formal religion as playing an important role in life and society, and he goes out of his way to never criticize the faith of another person. His pragmatism comes out also in list of the virtues, which is one of the more famous and striking parts of his book. As is well known, he compiled a list of 13 virtues, which he felt summed up all the virtues taught by all philosophers and religions. But they are practical, not abstract virtues. He states that he wanted to articulate virtues that possessed simple and not complex ideas. Why? The simpler the idea, the easier to apply. And in formulating his list of virtues, he is more concerned with the manner in which these virtues can be actualized in one's life. Franklin has utterly no interest in abstract morality.
One of Franklin's virtues is humility, and his humility comes out in the form of his book. His narrative is exceedingly informal, not merely in the first part, which was ostensibly addressed to his son, but in the later sections (the autobiography was composed upon four separate occasions). The informal nature of the book displays Franklin's intended humility, and for Franklin, seeming to be so is nearly as important as actually being so. For part of the function of the virtues in an individual is not merely to make that particular person virtuous, but to function as an example to others. This notion of his being an example to other people is one of the major themes in his book. His life, he believes, is an exemplary one. And he believes that by sharing the details of his own life, he can serves as a template for other lives.
One striking aspect of his book is what one could almost call Secular Puritanism. Although Franklin was hardly a prude, he was nonetheless very much a child of the Puritans. This is not displayed merely in his promotion of the virtues, but in his abstaining from excessiveness in eating, drinking, conversation, or whatever. Franklin is intensely concerned with self-governance.
I think anyone not having read this before will be surprised at how readable and enjoyable this is. I think also one can only regret that Franklin was not able to write about the entirety of his life. He was a remarkable man with a remarkable story to tell.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Franklin in his own words. What more could you want? 16 Jan. 2001
By Michael L. Morrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I find the Autobiography a fascinating look into the everyday life of our country's Colonial age! Franklin's narration is clean and descriptive and totally engrossing! The story of his early life and how he came to be a businessman and statesman is well worth 5 stars but also included in this gem is "The Selected Writings" which includes "The Way to Wealth" as well as five more sections (Essays to Do Good, Franklin the Scientist, Franklin and the Revolution, The Family Man, and Something of His Religion) all include various letters and essays and are an entertaining look into Franklin and his view of the world! For an American History buff this is a must book for the collection and for Children... this book is a fantastic way to introduce any Child to History and the REAL Life of one of our beloved Signers of the Declaration of Independence!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
You will be richer from reading this book 16 Jan. 2004
By DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is the story of one man's efforts to integrate certain principles and habits - integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty - into his life and to embed them deep within his nature. Franklin was a scientist, philosopher, statesman, inventor, educator, diplomat, politician, humorist and man of letters who led a very full life. He was also a moralist and humanitarian who was happy to be considered unconventional by doing things the way he thought they should be done. His was a life well lived and a model from which we can learn much. In the introduction we are told: "Himself a master of the motives of human conduct, Franklin did not set out to reveal himself in his autobiography. Rather, he intended to tell us (insofar as we, the nation, are the 'posterity' to whom he addressed himself) how life was to be lived, good done, and happiness achieved - how the ball was to be danced."
Franklin did not have an easy life as the tenth son of a candle maker whose education ended at the age of ten. But by hard work and careful planning he was able to retire from business at the age of forty-two and devote his time to science and politics. He was sent to England in 1764 to petition the King to end the proprietary government of the colony. Soon after the Revolution began he was sent to France to negotiate an alliance with Louis XVI. He was a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. It is difficult to image anyone not coming away richer from reading this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The soul of the American pragmatic spirit 31 Oct. 2005
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For many this is this Letter of advice from Franklin to his son is the perfect embodiment of wisdom of American business success. For D.H.Lawrence however it showed the 'shop-keeping ' lack of soul, of Franklin and he mocked him in his 'Classic Studies on American Literature'.

In this work Franklin creates and promotes the legend of himself. He is a great inventor, a fabulous pragmatist. He also tells the story of his own rise , and shows how hard work and going through times of difficulty with determination and strength are important.

The work contains much of the kind of pithy wisdom Franklin made himself known with in America through 'Poor Richard's Almanac'

It is not a full biography, and it of course omits many other sides of the mind and character of this complex genius.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Muddled, but Interesting 16 Nov. 2010
By Clint - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and Other Writings has a multitude of interesting and historic events that are described by Bejamin Franklin himself. Although the information is great, the order in which it is written is somewhat confusing. This is mostly due to the fact that the autobiography wasn't written in one definite period of time, but throughout the years of Franklin's adult life. Another occurence in the book is the absence of any information on perhaps what was Franklin's most spectacular achievement: his role in the Declaration of Independence the the Revolutionary War era. In spite of these things, I still think that this book deserves four stars because of the simple historic significance and insight of a great American founding father.
The book covers much of Franklin's life as a child and as an adult. He describes many events in his life such as his short time as a military colonel and his work in discovering the origin of electricity and dabbling in politics. In the "other writings" portion of the book, there are several letters that Franklin had written himself to various colleagues and friends. After reading this book, I assure you that you will have a different and more in depth view on this iconic American figure.
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