Benjamin Franklin: Autobiography

(1257 words)
  • Alberto Lena (University of Exeter)

Franklin's Autobiography is one of the capital texts of eighteenth century literature. It served to formulate the notion of the American Dream by portraying the United States as a land of opportunity for anyone who wanted to start a new life and break with the past. The work also inspired self-made men such as Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Mellon.

The first appearance of Franklin's Autobiography was in a French translation of 1791, drawn from a manuscript written by Franklin in the 1770s which had been copied by Philadelphia law clerks. This version, translated into English in 1793, lacked Franklin's final revision, and thus offered a rather incomplete and distorted image of him; an impression that would remain …

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Lena, Alberto. "Autobiography". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 December 2002
[, accessed 02 July 2015.]