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Politics can be Hell

Jeremy Waldron, 22 August 1996

Machiavelli’s Virtue 
by Harvey Mansfield.
Chicago, 371 pp., £23.95, April 1996, 0 226 50368 2
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... active exercise of republican virtue. One of the curious features of this debate is that Niccolò Machiavelli is almost always enlisted as a player on the civic republican side. Curious – because if the term ‘Machiavellian’ means anything to the popular mind, it means cynical, amoral and manipulative politics: scheming, lying, breaking faith, whatever ...

Machiavelli’s Bite

Stuart Hampshire, 1 October 1981

Machiavelli 
by Quentin Skinner.
Oxford, 102 pp., £4.50, May 1981, 0 19 287517 5
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The Prince and Other Political Writings 
by Niccolo Machiavelli, translated by Bruce Penman.
Dent, 354 pp., £3.50, June 1981, 0 460 11280 5
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... powers of compression and command of the evidence provide as good an introduction to Machiavelli’s thought as could be asked for. As in his Foundations of Modern Political Thought, he is determined to place Machiavelli’s theorising in its historical context among the not unrelated thoughts of ...

‘The Battle of Anghiari’

Charles Nicholl, 26 April 2012

... to his David. Among those involved in the commission was the civil servant and author Niccolò Machiavelli. After a year working on ideas – a cornucopia of sketches survives – and then on a full-size cartoon, Leonardo began painting in the Sala in early 1505, working on a custom-built scaffold on wheels. Among his assistants was the eccentric Tommaso ...

It’s the Poor …

Malcolm Bull, 26 January 1995

The Ruin of Kasch 
by Roberto Calasso, translated by William Weaver and Stephen Sartarelli.
Carcanet, 385 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 85635 713 8
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... is Croce’s, for Croce famously called Marx ‘the most notable successor of the Italian Niccolò Machiavelli; a Machiavelli of the proletariat’. By framing the absent Marx with echoes of the Red Terrors, however, Calasso challenges the very point that Croce was seeking to make: namely that Marx, like ...

Free from Humbug

Erin Maglaque: The Murdrous Machiavel, 16 July 2020

MachiavelliHis Life and Times 
by Alexander Lee.
Picador, 762 pp., £30, March, 978 1 4472 7499 5
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... Surely it is a great wonder’, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote to his friend Francesco Vettori in 1514, ‘to contemplate how blind human beings are in matters that involve their own sins.’ But it isn’t really very strange. Few of us have the strength to face our flaws. Machiavelli knew that he was the real wonder: a connoisseur of depravity; an atheist who passionately hated the clergy, who thought the institution of the Catholic Church should be dismantled and replaced with the bloodstained altars of pagan Rome ...

What do we mean by it?

J.G.A. Pocock, 7 January 1993

The Cambridge History of Political Thought: 1450-1700 
edited by J.H. Burns and Mark Goldie.
Cambridge, 798 pp., £60, August 1991, 0 521 24716 0
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... debated. Nor could it have done so without losing its chronological and thematic unity. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529) were almost exact contemporaries; the great importations which rendered Neo-Confucianism triumphant and at the same time problematic in Yi Korea and Tokugawa Japan were going on between the dates ...

The Audience Throws Vegetables

Colin Burrow: Salman Rushdie, 8 May 2008

The Enchantress of Florence 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2008, 978 0 224 06163 6
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... his body tattooed with tulips, and becomes a fearsome warrior) and Niccolò ‘il Machia’, or Machiavelli. Along the way there are fearsome janissaries, Swiss giants called Otho, Botho, Clotho and D’Artagnan, more giants, mandrakes, and a dash of Florentine politics. In the central story the three friends are beguiled by the dark-eyed and entrancingly ...

The Dwarves and the Onion Domes

Ferdinand Mount: Those Pushy Habsburgs, 24 September 2020

The Habsburgs: The Rise and Fall of a World Power 
by Martyn Rady.
Allen Lane, 397 pp., £30, May, 978 0 241 33262 7
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... brilliant personal account of negotiating at Bolzano on behalf of the Dieci in Florence, Niccolò Machiavelli explains to his somewhat naive boss, Francesco Vettori, that though Maximilian has plenty of good soldiers it is not clear that he will be able to keep them in the field, being so short of cash. Florence could drive a hard bargain, offering so many ...

Born to Network

Anthony Grafton, 22 August 1996

The Fortunes of ‘The Courtier’: The European Reception of Castiglione’s ‘Cortegiano’ 
by Peter Burke.
Polity, 209 pp., £39.50, October 1995, 0 7456 1150 8
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... contemplating the nudes that fascinated tourists and connoisseurs for centuries, students shrug. Machiavelli and Guicciardini prove equally unexciting to young men and women who were born in the shadow of Watergate and are bored every night by the eleven o’clock news of Whitewater. They find nothing surprising in the assertion that great rulers cannot keep ...

A Most Delicate Invention

Tim Parks: ‘Money and Beauty’, 22 September 2011

... deeds of Cosimo [de’ Medici] that make us suspect him,’ Niccolò da Uzzano says in Machiavelli’s version of events, ‘are these: he helps everyone with his money, and not only private individuals, but the state, and not only Florentines, but the condottieri; he favours this or that citizen who has need of the magistrates; by the good will ...

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