- Series: Penguin Classics
- Paperback: 106 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (February 4, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140449159
- ISBN-13: 978-0140449150
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,608 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Prince (Penguin Classics) Reissue Edition
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“[Machiavelli] can still engage our attention with remarkable immediacy, and this cannot be explained solely by the appeal of his ironic observations on human behaviour. Perhaps the most important thing is the way he can compel us to reflect on our own priorities and the reasoning behind them; it is this intrusion into our own defenses that makes reading him an intriguing experience. As a scientific exponent of the political art Machiavelli may have had few followers; it is as a provocative rhetorician that he has had his real impact on history.” –from the Introduction by Dominic Baker-Smith
About the Author
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a Florentine statesman who was later forced out of public life. He then devoted himself to studying and writing political philosophy, history, fiction, and drama.
George Bull is an author and journalist who has translated six volumes for the Penguin Classics: Benvenuto Cellini’s Autobiography, The Book of the Courtier by Castiglione, Vasari’s Lives of the Artists (two volumes), The Prince by Machiavelli and Pietro Aretino’s Selected Letters. He is also Consultant Editor to the Penguin Business Series. After reading history at Brasenose College, Oxford, George Bull worked for the Financial Times, McGraw-Hill World News, and for the Director magazine, of which he was Editor-in-Chief until 1984. His other books include Vatican Politics; Bid for Power (with Anthony Vice), a history of take-over bids; Renaissance Italy, a book for children; Venice: The Most Triumphant City; and Inside the Vatican.
Anthony Grafton teaches European intellectual history at Princeton University.
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"The Prince" was essentially the first work of political realism in Western thought -- the first work of Western political philosophy that concerned itself not with the ideal government (as Plato had done in his _Republic_) but with the practical realities of getting and holding power. To describe the impact and influence of that willingness, that first notion that conventional morality might not be the best guide to success, would be as impossible a task as trying to summarize the influence of Galileo. Napoleon is rumored to have written extensive annotations to this book; Stalin allegedly kept a copy on his nightstand. Half of Shakespeare's villains (Iago, Richard III, etc.) derive their character in whole or part from this text.
Most of this book is extraordinarily controversial, even today, yet still fundamentally difficult to argue against; there's a reason the Catholic Church kept it on the _Index Librorum Prohibitorum_ for centuries. If you're looking for food for thought, it's here.
This particular kindle edition is fairly good; the text is cleanly presented with few typographical or scanning errors, and the translator has clearly made a significant effort to present the text as accurately as possible in a modern translation, with several footnotes detailing possible alternate translations of particular words, etc. In addition to the text of _The Prince_, this edition also includes two shorter historical works by Machiavelli, "Descriptions of the Methods Adopted by the Duke Valentino When Murdering Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, the Signor Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina Orsini," and "The Life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca." ("Duke Valentino" is an alternate name for Cesare Borgia). Both additional texts are, in essence, case studies of how contemporary historical figures achieved success by acting according to the precepts which Machiavelli outlines in the main body of the text, and as such are very useful and interesting companion reads.
As a final note, if anyone has recommendations for histories of Italy in this time period, please link me to them in a comment -- after reading this, I want to read more about the era. Thanks!
During the mid-Renaissance, Italy - as such - didn't exist. Rather, you had areas that varied considerably in their republican values. Venice and Florence enjoyed a higher standard of living, and even flourished under relatively enlightened governments; other, poorer areas like Mantua, still operated on the medieval model - though there was a wide disparity between rich and poor in either case. The Papal States exercised its own power, and its own source of wealth.
"The Prince" refers to the peninsula's main political division, the principality. Niccolo Machiavelli lived in a time when the political and economic divisions made for some harmony, but also violence and despotism. The prince had to understand how to manage the violence and work within the constraints of the Borgia's throttle-hold on power.
This version has an enjoyable forward, and is translated ably. However, the first five chapters are omitted. This Kindle edition is only a reader's sample; you'll have to purchase the full edition or find a cheaper alternative.
To be able to read and understand this book correctly, you must be prepared to spend some time understanding the politics and conflicts of the time. That being said, it's the only way to do it and be able to grasp more than surface conclusions. Being able to read and understand the work changed my understanding of not just politics, but also my interactions with different groups both socially and in my work life.