Top positive review
Hardback [Penguin Classic; Tim Parks 2009-blue/gold version]
4 December 2017
Many translations actually aren’t, they are interpretations according to the views of the author and many are thus almost novels. This is a very good translation of archaic Italian [a language most Italians can’t even read –much like Chaucer is to English]. Originally written as ‘On Principalities’, this was intended as a gift that was meant to ingratiate Niccolo with the dominate family [whoever they ended up being, for its recipient was not the original it was intended for].
The first 38 pages are a useful authors introduction, but it is the 16 pages of the Translators note that are of most benefit. Both explain how Machiavelli has been much maligned and misinterpreted in the past –I agree. Most conceptions of Machiavelli stem from ‘anti-Catholic’ sentiment as in Gentillet’ ‘Discours contre Machiavel’ and the numerous renaissance plays that were becoming popular entertainment. The translator tries to get an understanding of the period and attempts to translate words according to their ‘olde worlde’ meaning; rather than their modern usage.
Machiavelli’ uses large amounts of punctuation and a fractured writing style that modern writers often cannot or do not understand. It’s a style that I was brought up with and doesn’t cause me much of a problem. This version uses a more flowing style that is easy to read whilst still maintaining the message that Niccolo was trying to convey and also picks up on the ribald ’language’ of the day.
Essentially this is a modern easy read that maintains, IMHO, one of the best attempted translations or modern renderings of a much misunderstood work.