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The Essential Writings of Machiavelli

The Essential Writings of Machiavelli

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Written by Niccolo MachiavelliAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Niccolo Machiavelli
Translated by Peter ConstantineAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Peter Constantine
Introduction by Albert Russell AscoliAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Albert Russell Ascoli

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 544 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library
  • On Sale: April 3, 2007
  • Price: $17.95
  • ISBN: 978-0-8129-7423-2 (0-8129-7423-9)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

Finalist for the 2008 Pen Translation Award

“Essential is right. This compact and brilliantly edited volume enfolds not just The Prince, but also a splendidly translated assortment of political works, essays, and treatises, as well as a fine selection of literary gems and letters. Of particular value is the careful footnoting and cross-referencing, and the translated references from Greek and Latin, which Constantine places as footnotes on the page (bravo: you don’t have to look in the back). Precise attention is paid to the nuances of key words as they change over time: no one is more skilled or knowledgeable than he is, or more able to capture the humor as well as the seriousness of Machiavelli, in all his states.”
—Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French at the Graduate School of the City University of New York

In The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, Peter Constantine has assembled a comprehensive collection that shows the true depth and breadth of a great Renaissance thinker. Refreshingly accessible, these superb new translations are faithful to Machiavelli’s original, beautifully crafted writings.

The volume features essays that appear in English for the first time, such as “A Caution to the Medici” and “The Persecution of Africa.” Also included are complete versions of the political treatise, The Prince, the comic satire The Mandrake, The Life of Castruccio Castracani, and the classic story “Belfagor”, along with selections from The Discourses, The Art of War, and Florentine Histories. Augmented with useful features–vital and concise annotations and cross-references–this unique compendium is certain to become the standard one-volume reference to this influential, versatile, and ever timely writer.

Praise for The Essential Writings of Machiavelli:

“This judicious selection of Machiavelli’s most revealing works by one of the foremost literary translators of our time, Peter Constantine, elegantly captures in English the pith of Machiavelli’s brilliant Italian prose. Students of political thought and Italian letters will find this the best selection available of the great Florentine’s writings.” —Edward Muir, Clarence L. Ver Steeg Professor in the Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University

“If one were to assign a single edition of Machiavelli's works, this most certainly would be it.  No other collection presents as many sides of the great Florentine:  Machiavelli the political advisor, philosopher, historian, playwright, and—through a generous sampling of his correspondences—the man.  Remaining ever faithful to Machiavelli's serious, dangerous and often hilarious intentions, Constantine successfully conveys the brisk gallop of Machiavellian prose.  A boon to the student, instructor, and curious layperson, this should be THE point of introduction to Machiavelli in the English language.” —John P. McCormick, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

The Essential Writings of Machiavelli is a long-overdue contribution to English-language editions of the Italian Renaissance's most elusive yet profound thinker. Constantine's selections and lucid translations demonstrate Machiavelli's thematic and stylistic range as a writer, revealing his surprisingly inexpedient loyalty to friends and allies, his explosively satirical sense of humor, his stubborn idealism, and his evident affection for his family and for Florence—in short, his humanity….And Ascoli's introduction reminds us with clarity and concision—and a little trepidation—how reflecting on Machiavelli's world and the political problems it posed compels us to confront the dilemmas, contradictions, and violence of our own ideologically turbulent world." —Mark Jurdjevic, Assistant Professor of History, University of Ottawa

“Machiavelli's stress on political necessity rather than moral perfection helped inspire the Renaissance, by renewing links with Thucydides and other classical thinkers. This new collection provides deeper insight into Machiavelli's personality as a writer, thus broadening our understanding of him.” —Robert D. Kaplan, author of "Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos" 

“Machiavelli, famous for The Prince, was a multifaceted author, a protean thing. Just when we think we understand him, we read further and discover that he was far more coy and complicated than we at first believed. He fits into no single category. The major contribution of this collection of Machiavelli’s works—of his political theory, his essays, his theater, his satires, and his letters—is to make it possible, finally, for readers to round out their understanding of one of the most important (and least understood) thinkers of all time. Peter Constantine’s selection is not only intelligent, his translations are astonishingly good. Thoughtfully introduced by Albert Russell Ascoli, Constantine’s edition belongs in everyone’s library. Perhaps now more than ever we have much to learn from this Renaissance thinker, present at the birth of the modern world.” —John Jeffries Martin, Professor and Chair, Department of History, Trinity University