Historians of political thought have argued that the real Machiavelli is the republican thinker and theorist of civic virtù. Machiavellian Rhetoric argues in contrast that Renaissance readers were right to see Machiavelli as a Machiavel, a figure of force and fraud, rhetorical cunning and deception. Taking the rhetorical Machiavel as a point of departure, Victoria Kahn argues that this figure is not simply the result of a naïve misreading of Machiavelli but is attuned to the rhetorical dimension of his political theory in a way that later thematic readings of Machiavelli are not. Her aim is to provide a revised history of Renaissance Machiavellism, particularly in England: one that sees the Machiavel and the republican as equally valid--and related--readings of Machiavelli's work.
In this revised history, Machiavelli offers a rhetoric for dealing with the realm of de facto political power, rather than a political theory with a coherent thematic content; and Renaissance Machiavellism includes a variety of rhetorically sophisticated appreciations and appropriations of Machiavelli's own rhetorical approach to politics. Part I offers readings of The Prince, The Discourses, and Counter-Reformation responses to Machiavelli. Part II discusses the reception of Machiavelli in sixteenth-and seventeenth-century England. Part III focuses on Milton, especially Areopagitica, Comus, and Paradise Lost.
Princeton University Press; July 1994
- ISBN 9781400821280
- Read online, or download in secure PDF format
- Title: Machiavellian Rhetoric
- Author: Victoria Kahn
Imprint: Princeton University Press
In The Press
"Victoria Kahn's book will be the definitive study of Machiavellism in the Renaissance for our generation of scholarship."—Leonard Tennenhouse, Brown University
About The Author
Victoria Kahn is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. She is the author of Rhetoric, Prudence, and Skepticism in the Renaissance (Cornell) and co-editor, with Albert Ascoli, of Machiavelli and the Discourse of Literature (Cornell).