The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
I took some of the Papers, and making short Hints of the Sentiment in each Sentence, laid them by a few Days, and then without looking at the Book, tried to complete the Papers again, by expressing each hinted Sentiment at length and as fully as it had been express'd before, in any suitable Words that should come to hand. (1.18)
This reveals how Franklin thinks about reading and writing. He continually tries to internalize the material he comes across, taking it in so completely that he can regurgitate it in a new way, as "fully" and "suitably" as possible. He wants to be as articulate as the writers he admires.
It prov'd to be my old favorite Author Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress in Dutch […] Honest John was the first that I know of who mix'd Narration and Dialogue, a Method of Writing very engaging to the Reader, who in the most interesting Parts finds himself as it were brought into the Company, and present at the Discourse. (1.28)
Franklin doesn't just say what his favorite book is, he explains in a smart, literary way just why Bunyan's book works so well. What's more, he shows himself to be kind of ahead of his time by engaging in a sort of "rise of the novel" critique. This tells us what Franklin really values in his reading material, and also suggests what kinds of books might be found in his library. Something for us to consider, perhaps, is whether Franklin achieves in the Autobiography this balance between description and discussion that he so admires in Pilgrim's Progress.
For The Incidents of the Voyage, I refer you to my Journal, where you will find them all minutely related. Perhaps the most important Part of that Journal is the Plan to be found in it which I formed at Sea for regulating my future Conduct in Life. (1.79)
It's always interesting when a writer refers to other stuff he's written. Here, though, Franklin's drawing our attention not to another published work of his, but to a private piece. This reinforces a sense of shared intimacy; he's allowing us to look in on a genre that's typically private.