Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Admitted into the company and present at the conversation

I love Benjamin Franklin. Who else would start a paragraph describing how he rescued a man from drowning in a storm and end with a description of literary style?

"In crossing the bay we met with a squall that tore our rotten sails to pieces, preventing our getting into the Kill, and drove us upon Long Island. In our way a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell overboard; when he was sinking I reached through the water to his shock pate and drew him up, so that we got him in again. His ducking sobered him a little and he went to sleep, taking first out of his pocket a book, which he desired I would dry for him. It proved to be my old favorite author, Bunyan's `'Pilgrim's Progress,' in Dutch, finely printed on good paper, copper cuts, a dress better than I had ever seen it wear in its own language. I have since found that it has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other book, except perhaps the Bible. Honest John was the first that I know of who mixed narration and dialogue: a method of writing very engaging to the reader, who in the most interesting parts finds himself, as it were, admitted into the company and present at the conversation. Defoe has imitated him successfully in his 'Robinson Crusoe,' in his 'Moll Flanders,' and other pieces; and Richardson has done the same in his 'Pamela,' etc."

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