This month, I’m reading a collection of explicitly political works. Hopefully each of them will touch on different political treatises, so if you don’t like one of them, click around and you’ll find something more up your alley.
Author: Niccolo Macchiavelli (translator: W.K. Marriott)
Project Gutenberg Link
The edition on Project Gutenberg is a much older translation than the one shown to the right or the one presented on Goodreads as the primary source of reviews for Macchiavelli’s most well-known work. If you read it, you may get a different experience than me due to which version you select.
3/5 Discoball Snowcones
Review: As Reading Material
I read an English translation made in the 1800’s, which left the book in a strange realm where I couldn’t be sure how many of the odd bits were due to the original language or the translation. Sentences were long, rambling, and often difficult to parse. Even though the book was very short (more a pamphlet or booklet), it took a while to read because of the density and strange structure.
Overall, I did not find it entertaining in the least. There were short discourses on different historical events, but many were so briefly visited that it would require one sitting by a computer and looking up Italian politics of the era in order to truly understand it.
Review: As a Political Treatise
A modern reader probably looks at this and thinks “No way. This is garbage.” But that’s because we love our freedom (FREEDOM!) and don’t want it taken away. Macchiavelli acknowledges the importance of a semblance of freedom, however, which was interesting.
I personally hope that the day of monarchy is past. I personally hope that the elements of leadership described in The Prince never come to pass – because daaaang, they’re evil. The book prescribes cruelty as a method of combating disorder, of violence to end disunity. Macchiavelli’s research into successful leaders of the past was, as far as I can tell, pretty well done for a man of his time, but it cannot hold smoke in today’s world. It should be read more as an interesting look into human nature than a political premise, or as a lens with which to examine dictators.
And not examine them in a good light.
Review: Cultural Importance
The Prince is probably essential reading for those studying history, politics, or (in my case) world-building in fiction. The importance of The Prince on social sciences and history can’t really be overstated, and its influence on writings and politics since its creation is probably immeasurable. Though Macchiavelli’s broken Italy has long ago been unified, and though democratic institutions have grown more powerful since the age of enlightenment, despots still arise, and human nature has not changed.
We’re finally done with politics month! And WHEW – after Atlas Shrugged, I needed those last two to go quick. See you next month with a new set of books!