Essentially Poor Richard’s Almanack embodies all the themes of the Autobiography in a witty and accessible format. Franklin’s literary influence on Poor Richard’s Almanack comes in a variety of forms: Proverbs, epigrams, rhymes, and aphorisms abound in each edition, usually interspersed among the calendars, weather forecasts, and astronomical charts. Each edition opens with a letter from the almanac’s alleged author, one Richard Saunders (another Franklin pseudonym). He was “excessive poor” but fascinated with the heavens. Influenced by his wife, who could not bear “to sit spinning in her Shift of Tow,” he was compelled to publish his observations. Thus, Franklin presents to his readership “middling people” who had to work long and hard to save and prosper—one of their own, a man of humble means in search of moral perfection and its resultant prosperity.
Few of Franklin’s sayings in Poor Richard’s Almanack were original. He borrowed many of them from larger poetic works written within the preceding five or ten years; the poetic satirists Alexander Pope, John Dryden, and Jonathan Swift are heavily borrowed from but revised by Franklin to fit the needs and tastes of his readership. Many of these sayings have become oft-repeated foundations of American cultural heritage: “A true friend is the best possession”; “Don’t misinform your Doctor nor your Lawyer”; “Don’t throw stones at your...
(The entire section is 522 words.)