Redeeming

Redeeming "The Prince": The Meaning of Machiavelli's Masterpiece

by Maurizio Viroli
     
 

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In Redeeming "The Prince," one of the world's leading Machiavelli scholars puts forth a startling new interpretation of arguably the most influential but widely misunderstood book in the Western political tradition. Overturning popular misconceptions and challenging scholarly consensus, Maurizio Viroli also provides a fresh introduction to the work.

Overview

In Redeeming "The Prince," one of the world's leading Machiavelli scholars puts forth a startling new interpretation of arguably the most influential but widely misunderstood book in the Western political tradition. Overturning popular misconceptions and challenging scholarly consensus, Maurizio Viroli also provides a fresh introduction to the work. Seen from this original perspective, five centuries after its composition, The Prince offers new insights into the nature and possibilities of political liberation.

Rather than a bible of unscrupulous politics, The Prince, Viroli argues, is actually about political redemption--a book motivated by Machiavelli's patriotic desire to see a new founding for Italy. Written in the form of an oration, following the rules of classical rhetoric, the book condenses its main message in the final section, "Exhortation to liberate Italy from the Barbarians." There Machiavelli creates the myth of a redeemer, an ideal ruler who ushers in an era of peace, freedom, and unity. Contrary to scholars who maintain that the exhortation was added later, Viroli proves that Machiavelli composed it along with the rest of the text, completing the whole by December 1513 or early 1514.

Only if we read The Prince as a theory of political redemption, Viroli contends, can we at last understand, and properly evaluate, the book's most controversial pages on political morality, as well as put to rest the cliché of Machiavelli as a "Machiavellian."

Bold, clear, and provocative, Redeeming "The Prince" should permanently change how Machiavelli and his masterpiece are understood.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/23/2013
Machiavelli’s The Prince has served as political propaganda for centuries, with little agreement on the Renaissance-era politician’s actual intent. Viroli (Niccolo’s Smile) argues that it is actually a 500-year-old plea for a moral and “astute” leader who can reverse course from the Medicis’ cruel and corrupt control of Italy’s city-states. Using previous scholarship to create a dialogue with opposing viewpoints, Viroli stresses that The Prince is neither satirical nor morally bankrupt but instead serves as a genuine call for a redeemer, supplementing his assertions with Machiavelli’s body of work—especially “The Exhortation to Liberate Italy”—and personal correspondence. Surprisingly, Viroli doesn’t address Machiavelli’s bitterness at losing his own powerful position because of the Medicis and relies heavily on Machiavelli’s sense of honesty, even though he was known to embellish his arguments and mythologize his subjects. As it presents limited historical context in favor of passionate philosophical discussion, Viroli’s examination of the “realist with imagination” looking for a political savior, is most suited for those familiar with Italy’s tumultuous political history. Illus. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Maurizio Viroli wants us to grasp that The Prince was not the cynically devious tract it seems, but rather a patriotic appeal for a redeemer politician to arise and save Italy from foreign invaders and its own shortsighted rulers."—Michael Ignatieff, The Atlantic

"[Viroli] makes a strong argument for rethinking widely held assumptions about The Prince."—Theodore Kinni, Strategy + Business

"Whether or not they agree with Viroli, all students of Machiavelli owe him gratitude for calling our attention to an alternative way of conceiving The Prince."—Cary J. Nederman, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"[B]ecause of its subject and its rich scholarly argumentation, Redeeming The Prince proves exciting. Connoisseur of literature and tradition surrounding Machiavelli, Maurizio Viroli manages to deliver a clear and accessible can be a good introduction to Machiavelli text."—Quentin Verreycken, liens socio

"As Machiavelli did, Viroli writes in a brisk, forceful style that reveals both a depth of thought and a vibrant passion for his subject."Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400848423
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
10/27/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Maurizio Viroli is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University and professor of political communication at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano. His many books include Niccolò’s Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli (Hill & Wang), Machiavelli’s God (Princeton), and The Liberty of Servants: Berlusconi’s Italy (Princeton).

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