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Re-Appraising Benjamin Franklin, a Bicentennial Perspective.

Leo Lemay of the University of Delaware has put all Franklinists in his debt by organizing the three-day conference in Philadelphia and Delaware in 1990 -- the 200th anniversary of Franklin's death -- that led to the writing of this book. He describes the result as 'the most ambitious single collection of essays on Franklin ever assembled'. It includes 24 essays from today's experts, four of whom came from foreign countries. The range is awesome, reflecting Franklin's own versatility. Owen Aldridge rebuts Franklin's allelged Putianism. Claude Lopez asks: Was he too French?

Several literary historians discuss Franklin's social, religious and literary traits. He is seen not just as journalist but as publisher and bookseller, as deviser of practical projects from fire-protection and fire insurance, the cleaning and lighting of streets, and as inventor. But he was more than all of these. Robert D. Arner of the University of Cincinnati evaluates his campaign against drinking and drunkenness; Ronald A. Bosco of the University of New York at Albany assesses Franklin's role as crime reporter; the French literary scholar Daniel Royot of the University of Lyon sees him as the Founding Father of American humour. Ellen Cohn of Yale discusses the songs he most enjoyed and has a singing voice with which to illustrate the range; and David Yerkes of Columbia University probes his addiction to new coinages of words. This is a fascinating and diverse collection: the Father of all Yankees would have enjoyed this tribute to his genius.
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Author:Wright, Esmond
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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