Friday, September 2, 2016

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (Friday Classics)

Reviewed by Ambrea

Written in the 16th century by Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (or Il Principe) is a political treatise on the responsibilities of the aristocracy and the rights of principalities.  Although published after his death in 1527, The Prince made waves for its use of common language (using Italian, rather than the traditional Latin expected of literature) and its unexpected commentary on modern philosophy and politics.

The Prince is intriguing and innovative for its time.  I can appreciate it more now that I’ve had the opportunity to read a little more about its history, as well as its initial and continued impact.  It’s a book that defied convention (almost always a good thing) and, more importantly, defined an entire genre on political tracts and political philosophy.

However, despite its impact and originality, I cannot say I liked reading The Prince.  I know part of that is because I purchased a translation that was less than spectacular.  While I was reading, I noticed mistakes.  Not just a few, but several.  Some were simple typos, but a few were glaring grammar mistakes and bad linguistic choices that just left me feeling a little cheated.  Honestly, it’s almost like the original Italian text was just fed through Google and published, transcription mistakes and all.

And I found it excruciatingly boring.  It took me weeks to finish reading The Prince and, at 114 pages, it probably shouldn’t have taken me more than a couple of days.  I just couldn’t keep my attention focused on the book.  After only a few pages, I was bored by the archaic language and transcription mistakes, and I simply couldn’t stand reading it after I realized I couldn’t consider the text reliable.

I only finished reading Machiavelli’s work because I needed to finish a book on politics for my Read Harder Challenge.  And, truthfully, I wouldn’t subject anyone to my copy of The Prince.  I would only read it again if necessary, and I would be very reluctant to loan it out to anyone else.  It’s a book I would only read again if I had someone to explain or discuss with me the text, so I could better understand it.  Otherwise, it’s on my discard pile for life.

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