Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conversations at the Register

I sold a woman Machiavelli's Art of War today. Though a maths teacher, she had recently taken a seminar recently on Machiavelli and developed a fascination. I confessed that I had never read the Prince, and she said that she hadn't read it until very recently either.

"Isn't it modeled on Cesar Borgia?" I asked, remembering also that the familiar picture of Jesus was based on Cesare Borgia's handsome, degenerate face (learned from Gregory Maguire's Mirror Mirror).

She said that it was, and brightened a little. In a flurry of educating she told me the Prince was a treatise sent to Lorenzo de Medici as a job application, that she found Machiavelli realistic rather than cynical. "When he says 'armored'" she said enthusiastically, "he means prepared..." She compared 21st century North America to 15th century Italy, suggested that Obama had certainly read the Prince, and that it is as timely a read now as it was in it's original context. She passionately convinced me and thus the Prince is moving up my reading list several notches.

The same woman later returned for a brief but happy discussion of marvelous comics: Tintin and Asterix and Obelix.

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