Edison (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
Ronald Clark’s excellent biography, Einstein: The Life and Times, has raised expectations far beyond the level that has been attained in Clark’s study of Edison: The Man Who Made the Future. The latter, generously sprinkled with quotations, is a narrative account of Edison’s life with little attempt at sophisticated or critical analysis of the biographical activities and events and with only brief efforts at comprehending the real man as distinguished from the legend. Clark has constantly before himself the subtitle of his book, “The Man Who Made the Future,” and takes pains, often unconvincingly, to demonstrate the validity of this interpretation.
Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, on February 11, 1847, to Samuel and Nancy Edison. Early in life, he exhibited considerable interest and skill in reading such works as R. G. Parker’s Natural and Experimental Philosophy, the writings of Thomas Paine, and Newton’s Principia, which convinced him that “I am not a mathematician.” Indeed, Edison proved to have much more interest in practical experiments than in theories. Clark contends that even as a boy, Edison manifested three characteristics that were to remain with him all of his life: “They were quickness at turning chance circumstance to his own benefit, a refusal to be deterred, and a relentlessness—some would say ruthlessness—in exacting as much payment for a job as traffic would...
(The entire section is 2388 words.)
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