Redeeming The Prince: The Meaning of Machiavelli's Masterpiece

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. 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.

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

About 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).

Table of Contents

List of Figures ix
Preface xi
Introduction 1
Chapter One The Prince as a Redeemer 23
Chapter Two A Realist with Imagination 66
Chapter Three A Great Oration 92
Chapter Four A Prophet of Emancipation 113
Notes 149
Index 181

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From the Publisher

"In this absolutely important book, Maurizio Viroli addresses the main points of controversy over Machiavelli's Prince and provides a new, global interpretation of this masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance. A work of serious, original scholarship, Viroli's book also gives a clear, simple, and coherent explanation of Machiavelli's work for general readers."—Jean-Jacques Marchand, professor emeritus, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

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