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Paperback The Autobiography and Other Writings Book

ISBN: 0142437603

ISBN13: 9780142437605

The Autobiography and Other Writings

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Book Overview

Benjamin Franklin's writings represent a long career of literary, scientific and political efforts over a lifetime which extended nearly the entire eighteenth century. This volume includes Franklin's reflections on such diverse questions as philosophy and religion, social status, electricity, American national characteristics, war, and the status of women. Nearly sixty years separate the earliest writings from the latest, an interval during which...

Customer Reviews

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Franklin's informal account of his remarkable life

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 o

You will be richer from reading this book

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.

Franklin's informal account of his remarkable life

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

Franklin in his own words. What more could you want?

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!
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