I sette libri dell'arte della guerra di Nicolo Machiavelli cittadino, et secretario fiorentino
by Machiavelli, Niccolò
NP [London]: NP [John Wolfe], 1587. Novamente corretti & con summa diligenza ristampati. Softcover. f to vg. 12mo (6 1/2 x 4 1/4"). , 140,  leaves (Signatures: A-S8 T6). No colophon, as issued. Original decorative soft vellum. Decorative initials and tailpieces.This illicit early edition of Macchiavelli's "Art of War" was published in London by John Wolfe* (STC 17163 L: 54.a.17.). It is divided into a preface (proemio) and seven books (chapters), which take the form of a series of dialogues that take place in the Orti Oricellari, the gardens built in a classical style by Bernardo Rucellai in the 1490s for Florentine aristocrats and humanists to engage in discussion, between Cosimo Rucellai and "Lord Fabrizio Colonna" (many feel Colonna is a veiled disguise for Machiavelli himself, but this view has been challenged by scholars such as Mansfield), with other patrizi and captains of the recent Florentine republic: Zanobi Buondelmonti, Battista della Palla and Luigi Alamanni. After repeated uses of the first person singular to introduce the dialogue, Machiavelli retreats from the work, serving as neither narrator nor interlocutor. Fabrizio is enamored with the Roman Legions of the early to mid Roman Republic and strongly advocates adapting them to the contemporary situation of Renaissance Florence. Fabrizio dominates the discussions with his knowledge, wisdom and insights. The other characters, for the most part, simply yield to his superior knowledge and merely bring up topics, ask him questions or for clarification. These dialogues, then, often become monologues with Fabrizio detailing how an army should be raised, trained, organized, deployed and employed. Machiavelli's Art of War echoes many themes, issues, ideas and proposals from his earlier, more widely read works, "The Prince" and "The Discourses." To the contemporary reader, Machiavelli's dialogue may seem impractical and to under-rate the effectiveness of both firearms and cavalry. However, his theories were not merely based on a thorough study and analysis of classical and contemporary military practices. Machiavelli had served for fourteen years as secretary to the Chancery of Florence and "personally observed and reported back to his government on the size, composition, weaponry, morale, and logistical capabilities of the most effective militaries of his day." Machiavelli wrote that war must be expressly defined. He developed the philosophy of "limited warfare" - that is, when diplomacy fails, war is an extension of politics. The "Art of War" also emphasizes the necessity of a state militia and promotes the concept of armed citizenry. He believed that all society, religion, science, and art rested on the security provided by the military. (For more information, see: Christopher Lynch, "Introduction," in "The Art of War" trans. Christopher Lynch (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), xiv)The book is dedicated to Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi, patrizio fiorentino in a preface which ostentatiously pronounces Machiavelli's authorship. As reflected in the stunning title page, the typography in this book is both strikingly elegant and modern.*This work is complete with its folding plate, and errata leaf at rear.Binding age-toned and partly darkened. Sporadic minor to moderate foxing throughout. Lower margin of folding plate age-toned and slightly creased. Text in Italian. Binding in overall fair, interior in very good condition. * John Wolfe (1548?-1601) was an English bookseller and printer. His considerable ambition (he allegedly compared his attempts to reform the English printing trade to Martin Luther's efforts at reforming Christianity) and his disdain for the printing patent system of Elizabethan England drew the ire of his competitors and authorities in his early career. After being jailed twice and having his printing material seized, Wolfe transformed himself into an ardent defender of printing privileges. The remarkable quality of the books published with the support of learned Italian exiles seems to be as consequential as their impact on contemporary culture. The typographical quality of Wolfe's books was not merely comparable to European standards. As Mark Bland remarked, 'the typography of Wolfe's books must have suggested that the neo-classical elegance and decorum of the better Continental printers was also possible in London' (Mark Bland: "The Appearance of the Text in Early Modern England" (1998), page 103). Recent research has also shown that Wolfe could compete with continental publishers and booksellers as his books were regularly bought and sold at the frankfurt Book Fair (Harry R. Hoppe: John Wolfe, Printer and Publisher, 1579-1601," in "The Library," 4th series, Vol. 14, No. 3 (1933), page 241-289). By 1593, he was appointed Printer to the City of London. (For more information, see the "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography").
(Inventory #: 43864)
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