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Franklin Autobiography and Crevecoeur Letters from an Americ

            Franklin Autobiography and Crevecoeur Letters from an American Farmer, self-conscious reshapings, respectively, of inherited conventions of autobiography and the philosophical letter, are characteristic American "fictions" which anticipate the works of nineteenthcentury novelists. Both works address large conceptions of democratic life through narrative strategies predicated on the writers' attempts,-the first resulting in successful parable and the second in failed "myth," to invest personally vouched-for recitals of experience with larger sanctions of discovered representative truth. Each writer consistently associates the claims of his discrete individuality with those of a representative cultural identity, and in order to emphasize the sense of common possibility implied by such an association, each chooses to address his audience through a rhetoric of elaborately contrived simplicity.1 .
             As David Levin observes, the movement from private to public standards of identity is the overriding structural feature of Franklin Autobiography.2 What gives this synthesis of democratic identities a cumulative validity and coherence is the attitude of self-conscious discovery with which it is attended from the outset. Franklin begins the Autobiography with the putative question, "Who is Ben Franklin?" and then describes the process whereby the constituents of experience from which he fashions a highly particularized sense of personal identity become precisely those which justify his assumption of his final role in the narrative, that of representative American. .
             Indeed, by introducing at the end of Part One certain letters that he has received in response to this "private" section of the Autobiography, Franklin seems to suggest that he himself has been led to discover a corresponding "public" dimension of his Personality largely on the basis of appeals from friends.

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