75. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Text

Arion Press has opted for a straightforward typographic presentation of Franklin’s text, without illustrations, introduction, or notes. It is our intention to present Franklin in his own words, letting the text stand on its own. The Arion Press edition benefits from the many decades of scholarly work on the transcription of Franklin’s manuscript, in the possession of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, California.

In editing the text of the Autobiography, we have regularized spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Our goal is readability; we avoid obsolete eighteenth-century usages that are distracting to readers today. This approach sets the Arion Press edition outside a trend in textual scholarship of recent decades, to mimic the forms of  handwriting in print, retaining not only its spelling and punctuation, but the profusion of capitals, abbreviations, contractions, and ampersands.

A printer himself, Franklin would have expected what he wrote for convenience by hand to be formalized and regularized by printers. For those curious to see his text in his eighteenth-century style, numerous inexpensive paperback editions of the Autobiography are available.


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