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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Analysis

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Genre

Autobiography

Franklin's book defines itself as an autobiography in its title and we're sticking to that. Traditionally, an autobiography can be basically defined as "a connected narrative in which an individual tells his or her life story" (source). Well, the Autobiography is a (mostly) "connected narrative," and Franklin is using it to tell his "life story." He's not messing with his audience or changing up the genre – his book's not radical in that way at all. Instead, he's helping to set the standard of what an autobiography is, can, or should be, rather than subverting that standard.

But reading this Autobiography is kind of like only getting disc 1 of a band's two-volume Greatest Hits. We hear about some super-interesting stuff, like what role Franklin plays in the French and Indian War, how he helps to start all these lasting institutions, and the contributions he makes to society. His book ends, though, before he even gets to what happened in the American Revolution. That's like if Justin Timberlake's Greatest Hits didn't include anything after N*Sync: the American Revolution is Franklin's "SexyBack."

(We just can't stop talking about how Franklin makes use of this genre. Intrigued? For more, check out our sections on "What's up with the Title?" and "What's up with the Ending?")

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