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Benjamin Franklin: Writings (Library of America)

Benjamin Franklin: Writings (Library of America) by Benjamin Franklin, J.A. Leo Lemay (Editor)

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Summary

Product Description

"Writing has been of Great Use to me in the Course of my Life," Benjamin Franklin said in his famous Autobiography. With characteristically calculated understatement, he attributed his enormous and varied successes to "my having learnt a little to scribble."

This collection of Franklin's works begins with letters sent from London (1757-1775) describing the events and diplomacy preceding the Revolutionary War. The volume also contains political satires, bagatelles, pamphlets, and letters written in Paris (1776-1785), where he represented the revolutionary United States at the court of Louis XVI, as well as his speeches given in the Constitutional Convention and other works written in Philadelphia (1785-1790), including his last published article, a searing satire against slavery.

Also included are the delightfully shrewd prefaces to Poor Richard's Almanack (1733-1758) and their worldly, pungent maxims that have entered our American culture. Finally, the classic Autobiography, Franklin's last word on his greatest literary creation-his own invented personality-is presented here in a new edition, completely faithful to Franklin's manuscript.

A companion volume includes the complete "Silence Dogood" series, "Busy-Body" essays, and a generous selection of his early writings, including letters to the press, satires, and pamphlets.

Product Description

Statesman, scientist, philosopher, printer, and civic leader, Benjamin Franklin was also the most powerful writer of his time. From his first appearance in print, in the guise of the eccentric, opinionated, voluble "Silence Dogood" (1722), to his last published article, a searing satire against slavery (1790), he covered every aspect of "the question of America" with radiant clarity, wit, and penetration.

This collection begins with items written by Franklin during his early years in Boston and London (1722- 1726), including the complete "Silence Dogood" essay series. The volume also includes the famous "Busy-Body" essays (1728-1729); many of the news articles and essays he penned after he purchased the failing Pennsylvania Gazette (which eventually became the most widely read newspaper in the colonies); and various political satires, pamphlets, and personal correspondence written while he lived in Philadelphia from 1726 to 1757. The book concludes with material he published while a diplomat in London from 1757 to 1775 (including letters to the press, satires, and pamphlets).

Controversial in his own time, and the subject of vigorous debate ever since-to Matthew Arnold he exemplified "victorious good sense," while to D. H. Lawrence he was "the first dummy American"-Franklin emerges in this collection as a figure of extraordinary complexity for readers to discover, consider, and appreciate anew.

A companion volume includes Poor Richard's Almanack, Franklin's classic Autobiography, and his later writings.

Reviews

John Updike

The reader seems to see many Franklins, one emerging from another like those brightly painted Russian dolls which, ever smaller, disclose yet one more.

5 out of 5 stars The earlier writings of one of our nation's most important founders, November 24, 2005

By Craig Matteson (Ann Arbor, MI) (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    

The wonderful Library of America (I hope all of you support it as well as buy their fabulous volumes) decided to split the 1,600 plus pages of their volume of the writings of Benjamin Franklin into two volumes. This first volume contains the earlier materials. It includes the famous Silence Dogood articles, the "Busy Body" essays, articles from his influential paper "The Pennsylvania Gazette", as well as other pamphlets, and miscellaneous writings. It concludes with some of the material he wrote while in London as a diplomat. My fear is that the second volume will be more popular because the material is more familiar. However, Franlin's earlier writings are quite important and should be read and valued just as highly.

Benjamin Franklin is one of the great icons of the American Founding. He is truly one of the essential men who built our nation and deserves every praise we can heap on him. When we see images of the founders, they are all shown as old men, not how old they were in 1776. Franklin was really a generation older than most of the firebrands who led the Revolution. He was seventy when he signed the Declaration of Independence (John Adams was 41, George Washington 44, and Thomas Jefferson 33 on July 4, 1776) and eighty-one when he signed our Constitution as a member of the delegation from Pennsylvania. He was an amazing man. He was a successful printer, inventor, philanthropist, revolutionary, diplomat, and all around student of the world.

This book is interesting to dip into and read just those portions that interest you, as well as reading its more than 800 pages front to back. It has great notes on the text that provide contextual and translation help as well as sources, a most interesting chronology of Franklin's long and productive life, and an index.

This certainly is a must have for your shelf on the history of America's Founding.

5 out of 5 stars The second volume of essential writings by one of our essential revolutionaries, November 25, 2005

By Craig Matteson (Ann Arbor, MI) (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    

This fine volume from the wonderful Library of America, is a collection of the great Benjamin Franklin's later writings. It is the second volume of what used to be a single huge book from the LOA. This volume begins with Franklin's letters from his time as a diplomat in London, and then his pamphlets, political satires, and other writings when he represented our Revolutionary Government from 1776-1785 from Paris at the doomed court of Louis VI. His writings from the Constitutional Convention and writings from Philadelphia after his return to the United States are also included. Probably the most popular items included will be the Preface and Maxims of the Poor Richard's Almanac and the FOUR parts of his autobiography. Franklin is simply an amazing man.

Benjamin Franklin is one of the great icons of the American Founding. He is truly one of the essential men who built our nation and deserves every praise we can heap on him. When we see images of the founders, they are all shown as old men, not how old they were in 1776. Franklin was really a generation older than most of the firebrands who led the Revolution. He was seventy when he signed the Declaration of Independence (John Adams was 41, George Washington 44, and Thomas Jefferson 33 on July 4, 1776) and eighty-one when he signed our Constitution as a member of the delegation from Pennsylvania. He was an amazing man. He was a successful printer, inventor, philanthropist, revolutionary, diplomat, and all around student of the world.

This book is interesting to dip into and read just those portions that interest you, as well as reading its more than 800 pages front to back. It has great notes on the text that provide contextual and translation help as well as sources, a most interesting chronology of Franklin's long and productive life, and an index.

This certainly is a must have for your shelf on the history of America's Founding.

4 out of 5 stars Writings of Franklin, April 28, 2009

By Fennel AURORA "the auroran sunset" (Paris, France) (REAL NAME)    

Franklin was a facinating guy and incredible problem-solver. His poor beginning made him somewhat overly facinated with "nobles" and "royalty" - strange from someone whose innovations and writings helped make the first modern representative democracy possible. The autobiography at the end, and his science experiments are probably the most interesting parts. He tends to ramble a bit; he never seemed to follow through with any project, due to his interest in just about anything - this makes the reading part fascinating and part frustrating.


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