The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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Errata Symbol Icon
Errata is the word Franklin uses in Part One to describe some of the major mistakes he made early on in life. It is a term derived from the printing trade. Errata are mistakes in a proof or edition that a printer or editor can correct in a second proof or edition of a piece of writing. Franklin sees his major mistakes—leaving his brother, James Franklin’s, service before his apprenticeship was over; breaking his first engagement to his future wife, Ms. Read—as correctable. He goes on to describe how he made up for and attempted to correct these initial errors. Errata are therefore a symbol not just of our fallibility but of what Franklin sees as our innate capacity to improve as people morally, economically, and creatively. They symbolize both an aspiration for and the impossibility of human perfection.

Errata Quotes in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin quotes below all refer to the symbol of Errata. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Industriousness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Random House edition of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin published in 1950.
Part 1 Quotes

That felicity, when I reflected on it, has induced me sometimes to say, that were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults of the first. So I might, besides correcting the faults, change some sinister accidents and events of it for others more favorable.

Related Characters: Benjamin Franklin (speaker)
Related Symbols: Errata
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, beginning the second paragraph of the book, Benjamin Franklin says he would be content with reliving his life over again--though he would enjoy having the ability to edit or delete certain faults, errors, and accidents of his history.

Here, Franklin reveals a deep satisfaction with his own life, as well as an affirmation of life against death. He acknowledges his desire to revise and correct certain mistakes and events, but more powerfully claims that he would willingly choose to live his life over again despite these. In a way, Franklin's desire to revise his life (like a printer revises a second printing after checking for errata) doesn't seem to be motivated by wanting more pleasure for his life, but rather to correct the faults and errors he has committed so as to become more virtuous and industrious.

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Errata Symbol Timeline in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The timeline below shows where the symbol Errata appears in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Industriousness Theme Icon
Vanity and Humility Theme Icon
Error and Correction Theme Icon
Self-Improvement and Self-Education Theme Icon
Public Projects, Communality, and Civic Duty Theme Icon
...live his whole life over again only asking that he might correct a few errors ("errata") he made the first time around. (full context)
Vanity and Humility Theme Icon
Error and Correction Theme Icon
Franklin calls dipping into Vernon’s money one of the first great errata of his life and adds that Josiah was right that he was too young to... (full context)
Industriousness Theme Icon
Vanity and Humility Theme Icon
Error and Correction Theme Icon
Self-Improvement and Self-Education Theme Icon
...Ralph. Franklin forgot his engagement to Ms. Read, which he calls another of the great errata of his life. He was unable to save enough money for passage back to Philadelphia... (full context)
Industriousness Theme Icon
Vanity and Humility Theme Icon
Error and Correction Theme Icon
Self-Improvement and Self-Education Theme Icon
Public Projects, Communality, and Civic Duty Theme Icon
...the ideas Franklin expressed in his pamphlet. Franklin considers printing the pamphlet another of his errata. (full context)
Vanity and Humility Theme Icon
Error and Correction Theme Icon
...look in on Mrs. T— and Franklin grew fond of her and made advances (another erratum). She refused him, told Ralph, and it was the end of Franklin and Ralph’s friendship.... (full context)
Industriousness Theme Icon
Vanity and Humility Theme Icon
Error and Correction Theme Icon
Self-Improvement and Self-Education Theme Icon
...for a little time, then paid the balance with interest, feeling at last that this erratum had been corrected. Mr. Meredith, Hugh Meredith’s father, however, who was to have paid in... (full context)
Vanity and Humility Theme Icon
Error and Correction Theme Icon
...He says she was a great wife and helper. He corrected another of his great errata. (full context)
Part 3
Vanity and Humility Theme Icon
Error and Correction Theme Icon
...James did die and Franklin adopted the boy, thus, he says, making amends for the erratum of leaving his brother’s employ. (full context)