9780812224337: Paperback
Release Date: 12th July 2019

Dimensions: 155 x 235

Number of Pages: 368

Series Haney Foundation Series

University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.


Political, Historical, and Literary Writings

Edited by
Mark Jurdjevic
Edited by and Translated by
Meredith K. Ray

Throughout his life, Niccolò Machiavelli's overriding central concerns were the present and future strength and independence of Florence. Presenting a wide sample of the many genres in which he wrote, this volume highlights and explores this underappreciated aspect of Machiavelli's intellectual preoccupations.

Paperback / £28.99

Throughout his life, Niccolò Machiavelli was deeply invested in Florentine culture and politics. More than any other priority, his overriding central concerns, informed by his understanding of his city's history, were the present and future strength and independence of Florence. This volume highlights and explores this underappreciated aspect of Machiavelli's intellectual preoccupations.

Transcending a narrow emphasis on his two most famous works of political thought, The Prince and the Discourses on Livy, Mark Jurdjevic and Meredith K. Ray instead present a wide sample of the many genres in which he wrote—not only political theory but also letters, poetry, plays, comedy, and, most substantially, history. Throughout his writing, the city of Florence was at the same time his principal subject and his principal context. Florentine culture and history structured his mental landscape, determined his idiom, underpinned his politics, and endowed everything he wrote with urgency and purpose.

The Florentine particulars in Machiavelli's writing reveal aspects of his psyche, politics, and life that are little known outside of specialist circles—particularly his optimism and idealism, his warmth and humor, his capacity for affection and loyalty, and his stubborn, enduring republicanism. Machiavelli: Political, Historical, and Literary Writings has been carefully curated to reveal those crucial but lesser known aspects of Machiavelli's thought and to show how his major arguments evolved within a dynamic Florentine setting.

Note on Translation and Selection of Texts

Introduction. Machiavelli in the Florentine Renaissance
Chapter 1. Early Letters, Poems, and Military Writings (1498-1513)
Chapter 2. Excerpts from The Prince (1513-15)
Chapter 3. Excerpts from Discourses on Livy (1512-17)
Chapter 4. The Mandrake (1518)
Chapter 5. Articles for a Pleasure Company (post-1504)
Chapter 6. Belfagor (1524)
Chapter 7. Excerpts from The Art of War (1519-20)
Chapter 8. Allocution to a Magistrate (1519-20)
Chapter 9. Discourse on Florentine Affairs After the Death of Lorenzo (1520-1521)
Chapter 10. Midcareer Letters (1517-24)
Chapter 11. Duties of an Ambassador (1522)
Chapter 12. Excerpts from the Florentine Histories (1525)
Chapter 13. Late Letters (1525-27)



Note on Translation and Selection of Texts

The selection of texts presented in this translation is intended to guide the reader through the arc of Machiavelli's political and literary life: from his early years as a civil servant for the Republic of Florence to his fall from favor upon the return of the Medici to Florence in 1512, and his subsequent efforts to return to participation in the political life of his beloved city. These phases in Machiavelli's career are signaled, in broad strokes, by the inclusion of selections from his personal correspondence at three distinct moments: his early letters (1498-1513); his midcareer letters (1517-24); and his late letters (1525-27). These clusters of letters serve to orient the reader to important events and relationships in Machiavelli's life, setting the stage for the translations of his political and literary works that follow between them.

By 1513 Machiavelli, who had experienced torture and exile from his beloved city, was at work—from his farm outside Florence—on ThePrince, a treatise he hoped would restore him to favor with the Medici, as well as on the Discourses on Livy; by 1520, having found success with literary compositions such as The Mandrake, he was tasked with writing the history of his native city. This work, the Florentine Histories, translated less frequently than The Prince, was Machiavelli's final major undertaking and is a centerpiece here: the reader is offered, through the inclusion of a substantial selection of chapters, the opportunity to observe not only how Machiavelli's political thought and theory of history come together as he attempts to make sense of Florence's past and future, but also how he continues to navigate the delicate and frustrating nuances of his uncertain position with respect to the Medici, whose own history is integral to that of the city.

The excerpts offered in this translation, moreover, have been chosen to reflect some of Machiavelli's most famous and enduring ideas: for example, the concepts of virtù—a combination of political and military skill—and fortuna, represented as a furious river apt to overrun cities unprepared for flood, or personified as a woman who must be violently subdued; the importance of appearances—a prince must appear to be good, but to succeed, he must know how to do evil; the cyclical nature of history. The variety of texts, which include letters, political treatises, literary comedy, and history—some well-known, others familiar primarily to specialists—is intended to offer a broad picture of Machiavelli's range as a writer. He is analytical, complex, and precise in works such as The Prince and Florentine Histories; adept at manipulating literary tropes and transposing political observations onto mercantile society in The Mandrake; by turns incisive, witty, reflective, and warm in his familiar correspondence.

The translation strives in its style to convey the meaning and spirit of Machiavelli's works to the modern reader while remaining as close as possible to Machiavelli's own vocabulary and prose. In a very few cases where no single English term can convey the necessary nuance of a concept (for example, Machiavelli's wholly original use of the term virtù; or terms for certain ranks or political offices) the Italian has been retained, but in general, I have endeavored to find appropriate and evocative equivalents in English. Key terms central to Machiavelli's political philosophy are identified and discussed in the glossary.

Overall, then, this translation retains as much as possible of the original grammatical structures, sentence breaks, and rhythm of Machiavelli's style. My intention has been to provide a fluid, accurate, and accessible translation without sacrificing Machiavelli's distinctive idiom.

Translations are based on Niccolò Machiavelli, Opere, 3 volumes, edited by Corrado Vivanti (Turin: Gallimard, 1997-2005) with reference to the Edizione Nazionale delle opere di Niccolò Machiavelli (Rome: Salerno, 2001-). A full list of editions and translations consulted is included in the bibliography.

Mark Jurdjevic is Professor of History at York University and coeditor, with Natasha Piano and John P. McCormick, of Florentine Political Writings from Petrarch to Machiavelli, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. Meredith K. Ray is Professor of Italian at the University of Delaware.

"Including letters, dramatic works, and other texts that do not often come first to readers' minds when thinking of Machiavelli, Mark Jurdjevic and Meredith K. Ray have provided a selection of his work that paints a new and interesting portrait of the political theorist. Arranged chronologically, these lesser-known texts frame excerpts from The Prince, Discourses on Livy, and The Art of War, resulting in a finely grained intellectual autobiography. The volume is perfect for the classroom and for readers interested in gaining a fuller understanding of Machiavelli's thought."— Christopher S. Celenza, Georgetown University