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Niccolo Machiavelli: An Intellectual Biographyby Corrado Vivanti
Synopses & Reviews
This is a colorful, comprehensive, and authoritative introduction to the life and work of the author of The Prince--Florentine statesman, writer, and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527). Corrado Vivanti, who was one of the world's leading Machiavelli scholars, provides an unparalleled intellectual biography that demonstrates the close connections between Machiavelli's thought and his changing fortunes during the tumultuous Florentine republic and his subsequent exile. Vivanti's concise account covers not only Machiavelli's most famous works--The Prince, The Discourses, The Florentine Histories, and The Art of War--but also his letters, poetry, and comic dramas. While setting Machiavelli's life against a dramatic backdrop of war, crisis, and diplomatic intrigue, the book also paints a vivid human portrait of the man.
Vivanti's narrative breaks Machiavelli's life into three parts: his career in a variety of government and diplomatic posts in the Florentine republic between 1494 and 1512, when the Medici returned from exile, seized power, and removed Machiavelli from office; the pivotal first part of his subsequent exile, when he formulated his most influential ideas and wrote The Prince; and the final decade of his life, when, having returned to Florence, he wrote The Art of War, The Florentine Histories, the satirical play The Mandrake, and other works. Along the way, the biography presents unmatched accounts of many intensely debated topics, including the precise nature of Machiavelli's cultural and intellectual background, his republicanism, his political and personal relationship to the Medici, and his ideas about religion.
"I cannot imagine a work on Machiavelli that would benefit readers more than this extremely valuable book. Vivanti, who was one of the most eminent Machiavelli scholars, provides a fine introduction to Machiavelli's life and thought, writing with a clarity and precision that only a lifetime of study made possible. But this is far more than an introduction. Its treatment of Machiavelli's republicanism is probably the finest that exists, and its discussion of many other important topics--from Machiavelli's relationship to the Medici to his cultural background and his ideas on religion--are equally persuasive."--Maurizio Viroli, author of Niccolò's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli
"This is a very readable and reliable guide to Machiavelli's life and thought from a distinguished editor of the Florentine's works. Providing far more comprehensive coverage than any other short guide, This book presents an informative account of all of Machiavelli's writings, and handles them with winning suppleness and authority. Vivanti reveals the intimate connections between Machiavelli's thought and the vicissitudes of his career within a colorful and turbulent political world characterized by incessant war, duplicitous statecraft, and delicate diplomacy."--Peter Stacey, University of California, Los Angeles
About the Author
Corrado Vivanti (1928-2012) was an emeritus professor of history, having taught at the universities of Rome, Turin, and Perugia. He was the editor of the standard edition of the complete works of Machiavelli.
Table of Contents
Part I. The Florentine Secretary 1
Part II. Exile in His Homeland 69
Part III. "Niccolò Machiavelli, Historian, comic writer, and tragic writer" 127
Appendix: Notes on the Use of the Word Stato in Machiavelli 193
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