Reading Machiavelli

Here is an another example of the boring way in which Machiavelli’s words are misinterpreted (either on purpose! or through ignorance?) link to article recommending 6 wrong conclusions from Machiavelli that President Bush might have liked to hear in 2001.

Machiavelli is probably the most demonstratively misquoted and misrepresented writer, probably due to his writing about the fundamentals of politics.

Actually that might not be fair, he did say lots of things in ‘The Prince’ that are open to interpretation. Due to writing from a morally neutral position (or amoral?), people are able to read his words in anyway they like. The prince deals with the attainment and maintenance of power, a good price is one who is adept at this, and focuses on the needs of the country, rather than his own needs.

Other books by Machiavelli outline his view on how a state should be organised, and his views are often at odds with a casual reading of the Prince.

If you enjoy reading books, and are curious about what Machiavelli really meant you can read his own words (translated into English), I (as a metallurgist) recommend this collection: Portable Machiavelli.

Project Gutenberg Free Texts;
The New Machiavelli by H. G. Wells.
Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius by Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

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One Response

  1. Good commentary. I’ve only read the Prince, really really liked it though. Maybe that’s because I could read my own opinions into the text?

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