to succeed, i.e., in being clear, convincing, and immediately useful to others? In order to accept this, one must accept that Machiavelli, as Mansfield would haveit, was never really interested in those around him, and that, even before putting pen to paper, he had given up on the princes of Italy, in the sure knowledge, so to speak, that Hobbes would pick upwhere he had left off. This of course begs the question as to whether it is feasible to ignore the historical context and diachronic
sequence of Machiavelli's works. Whatever about La Mandragolaor Florentine Histories, can The Prince really be said to be the work of an author who is indifferent to whether or not his contemporaries will pay heed
to what he says? But however much one may wishto argue with Mansfield, there is never any doubt about his mastery of Machiavelli. The excellent translation of the Discorsi is further proof of that. Naturally, since translations are made for thebenefit of those who do not understand the original, they will tend to arouse the suspicions of those who do, as there is something much more final about them, stating as they seem to not only that"his is what X says," but also that "this is what X means." The translators
however have managed to avoid this pitfall
by providing a very "transparent" translation, which, while sounding English,is yet close to the original, and also gives the reader the keys to unlock it. Besides notes which explain any ambiguities in the text, it is accompanied by an extensive glossary, which allows one togo behind the English and check what particular word Machiavelli uses at any particular time, and how often that word recurs in the text. There is also an index of proper names and an introduction,...