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View full screen - View 1 of Lot 37. Machiavelli, Niccolo | "This book carryes its poyson and malice in it".

From the Library of Clayre and Jay Michael Haft

Machiavelli, Niccolo | "This book carryes its poyson and malice in it"

Lot Closed

December 16, 07:37 PM GMT


15,000 - 20,000 USD

Lot Details


From the Library of Clayre and Jay Michael Haft

Machiavelli, Niccolo

 Nicholas Machiavel's Prince. Also, The life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca. And the meanes Duke Valentine us'd to put to death Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto of Fermo Paul, and the Duke of Gravina. Translated by Edward Dacres. London: R. Bishop for William Hils and Daniel Pakeman, 1640.

12mo (145 x 83 mm). Title remounted with some loss to lower margin just affecting bottom rule, some rubbing to first leaf of dedication, but generally pleasing internally. Contemporary calf, ruled in blind; joints restored.

First edition of the first English translation of Machiavelli's classic and enduringly relevant treatise on the true nature of power.

Although Il Principe, which was first published in 1532, had been banned in Elizabethan England, the text had been available to English readers in Latin, Italian, French and Spanish editions and, as contemporary references to Machiavelli and his book confirm, had been widely read and discussed. In his dedication to James, Duke of Lenox, Dacres acknowledges that the book's reputation may trouble his readers but argues that we still have much to learn from it: "This book carryes its poyson and malice in it; yet mee thinks the judicious peruser may honestly make use of it in the actions of his life, with advantage."

Dacres' translation is a classic in its own right, holding its own through the intervening centuries owing to its rigorous fidelity to the letter of the text, and resisting the temptation (unlike later translators) of "improving " Machiavelli's style by introducing rhetorical embellishments to the text.

"The Prince is far more than a book of directions to any one of the many Italian princelings. Machiavelli had profited by his journeys to France and Germany to make the most able analyses (in his reports to his government) of a national government, and he now wrote for the guidance of the ruler by whom alone Italy, desperately divided, could be restored to political health … Many of the remedies he proposed for the rescue of Italy were eventually applied. His concept of the qualities demanded from a ruler and the absolute need of a national militia came to fruition in the monarchies of the seventeenth century and their national armies" (PMM).


STC 17168; See PMM 63