The Prince (Italian: Il Principe) is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus (About Principalities). But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. This was done with the permission of the Medici pope Clement VII, but "long before then, in fact since the first appearance of the Prince in manuscript, controversy had swirled about his writings".
Although it was written as if it were a traditional work in the Mirror of Princes style, it is generally agreed that it was especially innovative. This is only partly because it was written in the Vernacular (Italian) rather than Latin, a practice which had become increasingly popular since the publication of Dante's Divine Comedy and other works of Renaissance literature.
The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning how to consider politics and ethics.
Jonathan Swift almost defines satire in this biting and brutal pamphlet in which he suggests that poor (Catholic) Irish families should fatten up their children and sell them to the rich (Protestant) land owners, thus solving the twin problems of starving children and poverty in one blow. When the “Proposal” was published in 1729, Swift was quickly attacked, and even accused of barbarity – the exact state the “Proposal” was written to expose.
Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne is one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, known for popularising the essay as a literary genre and is popularly thought of as the father of Modern Skepticism. He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography—and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as "Attempts") contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written.
Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne is one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, known for popularising the essay as a literary genre. He is also known as the father of Modern Skepticism. His pieces became famous for his apparent effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography. His main work, Essais (translated literally as "Attempts" but traditionally as "Essays"), contains some of the still most widely influential essays ever written. This is the second volume of that important work. (Summary adapted from the Wikipedia by Leni)
The Apology of Socrates is Plato's version of the speech given by Socrates as he unsuccessfully defended himself in 399 BC against the charges of "corrupting the young, and by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel" (24b). "Apology" here has its earlier meaning (now usually expressed by the word "apologia") of speaking in defense of a cause or of one's beliefs or actions.
The book chronicles and vilifies its targets in three parts: "National Delusions", "Peculiar Follies", and "Philosophical Delusions".
The subjects of Mackay's debunking include alchemy, beards (influence of politics and religion on), witch-hunts, crusades and duels. Present day writers on economics, such as Andrew Tobias, laud the three chapters on economic bubbles. (summary from wikipedia)
Du Bois, W.E.B.
The Souls of Black Folk is a well-known work of African-American literature by activist W.E.B. Du Bois. The book, published in 1903, contains several essays on race, some of which had been previously published in Atlantic Monthly magazine. Du Bois drew from his own experiences to develop this groundbreaking work on being African-American in American society. Outside of its notable place in African-American history, The Souls of Black Folk also holds an important place in social science as one of the first works to deal with sociology.
The Federalist Papers (correctly known as The Federalist) are a series of 85 articles advocating the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven of the essays were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October 1787 and August 1788 . A compilation of these and eight others, called The Federalist, was published in 1788 by J. and A. M’Lean. The Federalist Papers serve as a primary source for interpretation of the Constitution, as they outline the philosophy and motivation of the proposed system of government.The authors of the Federalist Papers wanted to both influence the vote in favor of ratification and shape future interpretations of the Constitution. According to historian Richard Morris, they are an "incomparable exposition of the Constitution, a classic in political science unsurpassed in both breadth and depth by the product of any later American writer."
Voltaire was an atheist. Diderot was Enlightened. But trite titles seldom encompass completely the beliefs of any individual. And this one fact is certainly true when dealing with Sir Francis Bacon.The youngest son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Francis was born in Strand, London, on Jan. 22, 1561. He went to Trinity College at Cambridge. He was elected to Parliament; he was Queen’s Counsel; he even became Attorney General before finally gaining the position of Lord Chancellor.But as do the careers of so many politicians, in 1621 his political career ended in disgrace.And yet, for all of this, both Diderot and Voltaire considered him “the father of modern science.” Others consider him only the father of the “scientific method.” (That process of collecting and organizing data.) Bacon’s “The Essays,” to which we now turn our attention, are–if they are nothing else–a delightful collection in decided disarray. That is, they seem to take no true progression. But an essay is not meant to be a treatise. And for all that, these essays are still a pleasure to read.Encompassing a broad field of interest, their largesse denotes the broad learning of this brilliant philosopher. It is therefore our sincere hope that the reader will, themselves, encompass these Essays. More importantly, we hope you enjoy them. (Summary by Carl Vonnoh, III)
This short work of Wilde's was written during his two year incarceration for "gross indecency". This work is a letter which sorts out his life, and his love toward Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde wrote this as a farewell letter to Douglas. (summary by Aaron Elliott)
This is a letter written from prison in 1897 by Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, in which he recounts how he came to be in prison and charts his spiritual development.
As a Man Thinketh is a literary essay of James Allen, published in 1902. The title is influenced by a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs.
"What Is Man?", published by Mark Twain in 1906, is a dialogue between a young man and an older man jaded to the world. It involves ideas of destiny and free will, as well as of psychological egoism. The Old Man asserted that the human being is merely a machine, and nothing more. The Young Man objects, and asks him to go into particulars and furnish his reasons for his position. This collection of short stories covers a wide range of Twain's interests: the serious, the political and the ironically humorous. (Summary by Wikipedia and John Greenman)
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Essays: First Series is a series of 12 essays written by Ralph Waldo Emerson concerning transcendentalism, including Self-Reliance. It was published in 1841. (Summary by Wikipedia)
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Faith Hope and Charity ...... In the Language of Emerson these translate as: Self - Reliance, Love, and Friendship. (summary by Robert Scott)
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
“We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul”.
Collection of 32 essays by American authors ranging from Benjamin Frannklin to Emerson to Whitman to Henry James to Theodore Roosevelt. On subjects from the gout to insects with a 24 hour life span to old bachelors to leaves of grass to the odes of Horace. It seems to be an attempt to show off the Americans as writers. (Summary by JCarson)
Wells, H. G.
Miniature wargaming got its start with the publication in 1913 of this thoroughly entertaining little account of how H.G. Wells, with certain of his friends, took their childhood toys and turned play into acceptable middle-aged sport by subjecting the exercise to the civilizing influence of actual rules.
While wargaming progressed far past these beginnings, Wells observes how "little wars" with even his elementary rules can suggest the wholesale crudity of the real thing.
"You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realise just what a blundering thing Great War must be. Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but--the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realisation conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do."
Wells leaves almost hanging the tantalizing concept that we might someday simulate war, as an instrument of international decision-making, rather than practice actual combat.
But most of this book is just the fun of evicting the boys from the playroom and spending happy days there, away from the "skirt-swishers", developing the framework under which two gentlemen might meet and accumulate boastable victories!
Thoreau, Henry David
This was originally a lecture given by Thoreau in 1851 at the Concord lyceum titled "The Wild" . He revised it before his death and it was included as part of the June 1862 edition of Atlantic Monthly. This essay appears, on the surface, to be simply expounding the qualities of Nature and man's place therein. Through this medium he not only touches those subjects, but with the implications of such a respect for nature, or lack thereof. (Summary by Chris Masterson)
A prose tract or polemic by John Milton, published November 23, 1644, at the height of the English Civil War... Milton, though a supporter of the Parliament, argued forcefully against the Licensing Order of 1643, noting that such censorship had never been a part of classical Greek and Roman society. The tract is full of biblical and classical references which Milton uses to strengthen his argument. The issue was personal for Milton as he had suffered censorship himself in his efforts to publish several tracts defending divorce (a radical stance at the time and one which met with no favor from the censors)... Areopagitica is among history's most influential and impassioned philosophical defences of the principle of a right to free speech. (Summary by Wikipedia)
Chesterton, G. K.
“None of us think enough of these things on which the eye rests. But don't let us let the eye rest. Why should the eye be so lazy? Let us exercise the eye until it learns to see startling facts that run across the landscape as plain as a painted fence. Let us be ocular athletes. Let us learn to write essays on a stray cat or a coloured cloud. I have attempted some such thing in what follows; but anyone else may do it better, if anyone else will only try. ” (Gilbert Keith Chesterton)
Dumas's 'Celebrated Crimes' was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language--has minced no words--to describe the violent scenes of a violent time.
In some instances facts appear distorted out of their true perspective, and in others the author makes unwarranted charges. The careful, mature reader, for whom the books are intended, will recognize, and allow for, this fact. (from publisher's note)
The first volume comprises the annals of the Borgias and the Cenci. The name of the noted and notorious Florentine family has become a synonym for intrigue and violence, and yet the Borgias have not been without stanch defenders in history.
Another famous Italian story is that of the Cenci. The beautiful Beatrice Cenci--celebrated in the painting of Guido, the sixteenth century romance of Guerrazi, and the poetic tragedy of Shelley, not to
mention numerous succeeding works inspired by her hapless fate—will always remain a shadowy figure and one of infinite pathos. (from Introduction)
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.