The synonym for political cynicism, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote much more than The Prince,
for which he is (in)famous. It leads off this anthology, which both spans his range of compositions--from state papers to histories to personal letters--and imparts a greater complexity to his insights on politics and human nature than his reputation would imply. To be sure, translator-editor Constantine includes Machiavelli's cold-eyed advice on how to plot a conspiracy, but that rumination on assassination is embedded in The Discourses
(on ancient Roman historian Livy), which otherwise shows Machiavelli as antityranny and favorable toward liberty and republicanism. Machiavelli was more than a theorist, however. Constantine's healthy representation of Machiavelli's reports as, in effect, the foreign minister of Florence in the early 1500s--until thrown out of office and tortured by the Medici in 1513--illustrates Renaissance Italy's dangerous political environment, on which Machiavelli drew for his insights on political conduct. Since The Prince
is a collection standard, you can get more bang for the buck with this fluently translated anthology. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was born in Florence. He served the Florentine republic as secretary and second chancellor, but was expelled from public life when the Medici family returned to power in 1512. His most famous work, The Prince
, was a written attempt to reingratiate himself with the Medicis and return to politics.
Peter Constantine is the recipient of a PEN Translation Prize and a National Translation Award. His Modern Library translations include Voltaire’s Canidide, Tolstoy’s The Cossacks
, and Gogol’s Taras Bulba
. He lives in New York City.