Machiavelli, 1550 edition

Wednesday 3rd October 2012, 12.25pm (day 405)

Machiavelli, 3/10/12

Could have posted more pictures of glorious autumn colours here in Trondheim but I did that yesterday, and this book has personal significance.

I got to know the work of Machiavelli when I studied for my PhD in Politics back in the latter years of the 1990s. As part of my work here I was taken (with several others) round the special collections of the Gunnerus Library at NTNU and here am being shown an edition of Machiavelli’s complete works from 1550 (hence the M D L at the bottom of the page), published while he was still alive and in extraordinarily good condition. The book may well become largely obsolete as an active information medium over the next 20 years but the tactile and visual appeal of them, particularly old ones, will never go away.

Incidentally only those who haven’t actually read him think that M. was a fascist. Actually he was the man who reintroduced Greek ideas of democracy into the Middle Ages and basically founded the whole political wing of the Enlightenment. He said quite clearly that a populace would always, collectively, take better decisions than a prince or tyrant acting alone and driven only by their own mind. He’s right. Someone tell David Cameron (see the comment made exactly one year ago today, which I feel as strongly now as I did then).

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