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June 1, 2012
9781421405230
English
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85522
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v2.1 Reference
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June 1, 2012
9781421406138
9781421405230
English
232
85522
8
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$58.00 USD, £43.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Unfinished Life of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin wrote his posthumously published memoir—a model of the genre—in several pieces and in different temporal and physical places. Douglas Anderson’s study of this work reveals the famed inventor as a literary adept whose approach to autobiographical narrative was as innovative and radical as the inventions and political thought for which he is renowned.

Franklin never completed his autobiography, choosing instead to immerse his reader in the formal and textual atmosphere of a deliberately "unfinished" life. Taking this decision on Franklin’s part as a starting point, Anderson treats the memoir as a subtle and rewarding reading lesson, independent of the famous life that it dramatizes but closely linked to the work of predecessors and successors like John Bunyan and Alexis de Tocqueville, whose books help illuminate Franklin’s complex imagination. Anderson shows that Franklin’s incomplete story exploits the disorderly and disruptive state of a lived life, as opposed to striving for the meticulous finish of standard memoirs, biographies, and histories.

In presenting Franklin’s autobiography as an exemplary formal experiment in an era that its author once called the Age of Experiments, The Unfinished Life of Benjamin Franklin veers away from the familiar practices of traditional biographers, viewing history through the lens of literary imagination rather than the other way around. Anderson’s carefully considered work makes a persuasive case for revisiting this celebrated book with a keener appreciation for the subtlety and beauty of Franklin’s performance.

About the Author

Douglas Anderson is the Sterling-Goodman Professor of English at the University of Georgia and the author of several books, including The Radical Enlightenments of Benjamin Franklin, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Reviews

"A nuanced discussion of Franklin's life and thought."

- Reference and Research Book News

"This book deserves a special place on any library's shelf... Franklin was a master at segmenting and redistributing his experience in different formats, Anderson points out, and Franklin's autobiography is very much a part of that digressive practice... This study provides an illuminating insight into autobiography in general and the ways publishers and editors partly determine a book's structure and fate."

- Choice

Endorsements

"An interesting and thoughtful meditation on Franklin's autobiography. This is a new kind of approach—or, new for this generation—that orients readers toward the text in ways that are illuminating and productive."

- Carla Mulford, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Franklin

9781421405230 : the-unfinished-life-of-benjamin-franklin-anderson
Hardback
232 Pages
$58.00 USD
9781421406138 : the-unfinished-life-of-benjamin-franklin-anderson
Electronic book text
232 Pages
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William Bradford's Books

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Jan 2003 - Johns Hopkins University Press
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The Radical Enlightenments of Benjamin Franklin

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Dec 2000 - Johns Hopkins University Press
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