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The Prince
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
I don't have too much to say about this new translation of a classic work, as I haven't been exhaustive in my investigation of other translations. However, I believe that Parks executes his mission well. From the outset (as he states in the introduction), he understands that classic translations themselves can become articles of history that are admired for their singular beauty apart from the message of the text (e.g. Hobbes translation of The Prince, or the KJV of the Bible). However, to allow these translations to stand alone would do disservice to the original text, as languages are elastic, forever changing over time. Thus, we have to forever reexamine the original transcripts of venerable documents, and express them in the language of our times. We do this so that the author's message can be effectively communicated to new generations of readers and thinkers. Parks even mentions - without a hint of presumption or arrogance - that one day his translation will at best be an example of the literary style of our time.

I believe that Parks has achieved his goal in producing an easy-to-understand English rendition of the controversial Italian political masterpiece by Machiavelli. I salute not only his effort, but his execution, and am glad that I decided to drop the extra nine dollars or whatever on this edition. Oh - and I had read the intro and translator's note before I decided to do purchase this. I strongly urge anyone serious about which translation to pick to read the introductory material.

-zg
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I've read various translations of `The Prince' over the past 40 years, and was introduced to this one as part of a book club read. I was interested to see how I'd find this translation relative to others and I was particularly interested in reading Tim Parks's long, context-setting introduction.
Why do we continue to read `The Prince'? What lessons can we learn from a political treatise written by a retired diplomat in the 16th century? Do we read it because of the insight it may provide into the minds of our own rulers? I suspect that few of us read it as a primer for our own attempts to seize power. And if we read it for insight, then it is an egalitarian text rather than an elitist one.

I enjoyed the introduction, and believe that it would be helpful to a first time reader of `The Prince', especially to a reader unfamiliar with the political landscape of Italy in the 16th century. Machiavelli's portrayal of the world as it was makes far more sense with some knowledge of the historical and political context.
The first part of the book discusses different kinds of state, how to deal with trouble in each of them and how to conquer each type successfully. In conquering a republic: `your only options are to reduce the place to rubble or go and live there yourself'.

My favourite parts, though, are where Machiavelli tells us what attributes an effective ruler should have: `It's seeming to be virtuous that helps; as, for example, seeming to be compassionate, loyal, humane, honest and religious.' Appearances are clearly important.

While I enjoyed the translation, I found a couple of modern linguistic references jarring. Not, I hasten to add, because I think that they are wrong simply that I'm more used to an older style of expression from works of this period. On the other hand, much of what Machiavelli wrote in the 16th century could equally have been written this century or even last week.
If you haven't yet read `The Prince' I can recommend this translation. If you have previously read `The Prince', this translation is worth reading because of both the introduction and because one of Tim Parks's objectives was to convey a sense and feel of the original text as it would have been understood at the time.

`A leader doesn't have to possess all the virtuous qualities I've mentioned, but it's absolutely imperative that he seem to possess them.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Prince is considered to be a foundation of modern political science. Well, when you read this translation, it actually feels too modern. Yes, it's easy to understand but there is something freaky when a half thousand years old The Prince sounds very much like a few days old The Economist.

However, if you read the introduction, the translator explains the goals he had in mind, what he was trying to achieve and after that it starts making sense. First, you get a very good overview of the situation in Italy around the time when the book was written. Second the translator explains, that he is trying to make that book sound to us how it was understood by the people 500 years ago. They were reading their regular language and in a same way the old forms should not be distracting the modern reader from the essence. In a similar way, the book has built an image over the centuries and the stronger was reputation the more distorted the translations were becoming. So the translator was trying to uncover the sense and feel of the original text without any later prejudgments.

Knowing that, reading the translation becomes less peculiar and more interesting.

Leaving the translation aside, what can I say about the text? Well, this is true classics. It's amazing how many thoughts, conclusions and advices are packed into a bit over a hundred pages and how important they are even now. It's about the size of a single issue of The Economist, but it can change the way you'll read news for the rest of your life.

Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I do not speak Italian, so, when I say that Tim Parks' translation of The Prince is great, I mean in comparison with others. (I had read Robert M. Adams' translation in the Norton Critical Edition not long before I read Parks' translation, and I tried Parks' translation because I like Parks' novels.) Parks' translation of The Prince is great in its clarity; it is written in plain, modern English. The historical material in The Prince, which can seem dense in other translations, flows right along in Parks'. His 24-page introduction and his 14-page "translator's note" are also superb. The latter explains his philosophy of translation and compares passages in his translation with those of others'. The translator's note left me assured, even though I do not read Italian, that I could trust Parks' accuracy; I believe that nothing was lost in accuracy, and much was gained in readability, by his use of plain, modern English. Parks provides very few footnotes, but I didn't miss them, because I was caught up in the text. The book also contains a glossary of proper names, with long paragraphs devoted to some of the names, but I didn't make much use of it, for the same reason that I didn't miss the scarcity of footnotes.
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on June 24, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A simple, short and easy to read classic text of politics that everybody should consider not just on reading, but on having it next to one.
Written hundreds of years ago, but absolutely applicable on our daily activities.
This kindle edition is one of the best pieces I have found.
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on June 4, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
When someone says "That was so Machiavellian" you must read this book to understand how right or wrong they are in that statement.
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on June 1, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a stunning edition of the classic text. The translator's long introducion in itself is worth the price for its reconstruction of the historical context as well as for the explanation for his choices at key points in the translation of the original text into English.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a great modern translation. This translation works on many levels, first it is very modern and very smooth; secondly, it is simple clean and elegant. Wow it's true it isn't pithy or remarkably poetic still it remains a very clean healthy and tasteful translation that is easy for a new reader of Machiavelli to access.

Highly recommended!
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on January 5, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Liked and read it to understand the word Machiavelism which is bandied about in conversation and when reading newspapers etc.
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
ok, so you'd probably like hearin' how good it's, this new translation, and i'd say it's ok if you think translatin' is just 'bout pretending you're somethin' you're not. i've gotta tell you that it's not put in idiomatic written english because the translator won't miss usin' a contraction, if'n he can. he'd use more but there's a limit to everything doncha know? he's got a very long introduction about how he'd think real hard 'bout translatin', and how he'd want us to feel like it's just like people today talk, not just what they'd mean but how they'd say it ... 'cept i don't know why he'd think people don't use simple plain speakin' when they're writin', which's what a book is.

here's the thing. if you listen to politicians on TV today you'll notice they're often droppin' "g's" and talkin' in contractions, i guess 'cuz it sounds more like average people talkin', all casual and sloppy. but nobody *writes* that way, y'know what i mean? but parks he doesn't care. and ya hafta wonder why a translator who goes 'round givin' lectures 'bout translatin' and how good he's at it, doesn't write simple syntax 'stead of writin' a very long and self congratulatory translator's preface to explain why he's writin' like he's pretendin' to know how people 500 years ago were talkin' instead of writin'. well, takes all types, y'know?

me, i downloaded this self congratulatory exercise in miscreant translatin' on my ipad and paid for it too, and i quickly deleted it. it turned out t'be way too much of mr. i'm so talented tim parks, which leaves less room for poor old outdated needs dressing up to be contemporary machiavelli. and that's toooooo bad, doncha agree? (note: in fact, parks does not drop the gerund "g", but that's only a failure of nerve.)
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