Written during the most eventful years of Benjamin Franklin's life (1771-90), the Autobiography is one of the most influential memoirs in history. This newly edited Norton Critical Edition includes an introduction that explains the history of the Autobiography within the larger history of the life-writing genre as well as within the history of celebrity. The text is accompanied by new and expanded explanatory annotations and by a map, an illustration, and six facsimiles. "Contexts" presents a broader view of Franklin's life with a journal entry from a 1726 voyage, correspondence, a Poor Richard piece on ambition and fame, Franklin's views on self-improvement, and his last will (and codicil). "Criticism" draws on a wealth of material that reflects both the wide range of Franklin's achievements and the global impact of his life and memoirs. New international voices in "Contemporary Opinions" include Immanuel Kant, Honore Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau, Jose Antonio de Alzate y Ramirez, and Jose Francisco Correia da Serra. "Nineteenth-Century Opinions" includes Humphry Davy on Franklin's discovery of electricity as well as Empress Shoken of Japan's Franklin-inspired poem. Finally, "Modern Opinions" reprints important pieces: I. B. Cohen on Franklin and the Autobiography's importance to science; Michael Warner's theoretical interpretation of the practices of writing and printing and what they tell us about Franklin; and Peter Stallybrass's insightful and engaging history-of-the-book perspective on Franklin's writing generally and the Autobiography specifically. A Chronology of Franklin's life, a Selected Bibliography, and an Index are also included.
Introduction Acknowledgments Notes on the Text Maps: Franklin's Boston, Philadelphia, and London THE TEXT OF THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY The Autobiography "A Quire Book of Letters" The Outline of the Autobiography A Guide to People Mentioned in the Autobiography CONTEXTS Journal of a Voyage, 1726 Excerpts from Franklin's Letters Mentioning the Autobiography "Authentic Memoir of Dr. Franklyn" EXCERPTS FROM FRANKLIN'S WRITINGS ON AMBITION AND FAME, WEALTH, AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT AMBITION AND FAME From Poor Richard Improved, 1750 From Poor Richard Improved, Jan. 1758 To Sarah (Franklin) Bache, June 3, 1779 From Benjamin Vaughn, May 1785 From Jane Mecom, July 21, 1786 WEALTH To Cadwallader Colden, Sept. 29, 1748 To William Strahan, June 2, 1750 To Jane Mecom, Dec. 30, 1770 To Thomas Cushing, June 10, 1771 Benjamin Vaughn to Lord Shelburne, Nov. 24, 1782 To Robert Morris, Dec. 25, 1783 To Benjamin Vaughn, July 26, 1784 Last Will and Testament, 1788, and Codicil, 1789 SELF-IMPROVEMENT Franklin's Epitaph, 1728 Franklin's Junto Query on Human Perfection, 1732 [Poor Richard on Self-Improvement, 1749] Rules for Making Oneself a Disagreeable Companion, 1749 To Lord Kames, May 3, 1760 To Abiah Franklin, Apr. 12, 1750 To Joseph Priestley, Sept. 19, 1772 CRITICISM CONTEMPORARY OPINIONS Immanuel Kant ? [The Modern Prometheus] David Hume ? To Franklin, May 10, 1762 Franklin in the Cockpit ? The Pennsylvania Gazette Report, 1774 Benjamin Vaughn's Account, 1779 Edmund Burke ? To Count Patrick D'Arcy, Oct. 5, 1775 From the New-Jersey Gazette, Dec. 31, 1777 Peter Oliver ?From Origins & Progress of the American Rebellion Richard Price ? To Franklin, May 1790 Honore Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau ? Eulogy for Franklin before the National Assembly of France, 1790 Jose Antonio de Alzate y Ramirez ? A Brief Eulogy for Benjamin Franklin, 1790 Jose Francisco Correia da Serra ? Eulogy for Franklin to the Royal Academy of Sciences, Lisbon, 1791 John Adams ? On Franklin, May 15, 1811 NINETEENTH-CENTURY OPINIONS Francis, Lord Jeffrey ?From the Edinburgh Review, 1806 Charles Brockden Brown ?From Literary Magazine, 1806 John Keats ? To George and Georgiana Keats, Oct. 14-31, 1818 Humphry Davy ? Historical Sketch of Electrical Discovery Edgar Allan Poe ? The Business Man Leigh Hunt ?From Hunt's Autobiography Herman Melville ?From Israel Potter Mark Twain ? The Late Benjamin Franklin Empress Sh?ken of Japan ? [A Franklinian Poem], c. 1890 Frederick Jackson Turner ?FromThe Dial, May 1887 William Dean Howells ? From Editor's Study, Apr. 1888 From Editor's Study, July 1888 From Editor's Study, Jan. 1890 From Editor's Easy Chair, Oct. 1905 RECENT OPINIONS Max Weber ?From The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism D. H. Lawrence ? Benjamin Franklin W. Somerset Maugham ? [The Classic Books of America] I. B. Cohen ? Franklin and Science David Levin ? The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: The Puritan Experimenter in Life and Art Michael Warner ? Franklin: The Representational Politics of the Man of Letters Peter Stallybrass ? Benjamin Franklin: Printed Collections and Erasable Writing Benjamin Franklin: A Chronology Selected Bibliography Index